Playing with G-forces like a musician on the fiddle, the Patriots Jet Team soars through the sky in spinning dives and tight crossovers few can match. These aviation experts form the biggest volunteer jet team in the Western Hemisphere run by a crack team of civilian pilots and Veterans from both the Navy and Air Force.

When the team approached us to help create a unique challenge coin to reflect them, we were honored to be working with such a high-flying crew. Not to mention, pleased to be tagging along for a ride on one of the team’s signature jets.

All About the Patriots Jet Team

While gravity-defying stunts take the spotlight whenever the team takes flight, it’s not the jets and their flyboys alone who keep the show flying. Michael “Smurf” Temby, a nine-year veteran of the team, knows it takes more than pilots to do what they do.

“It’s not just six pilots,” Says Temby. “It takes a large contingent to of ground crew, support crew, musicians, photographers, technicians and more to keep us in the air.”

It takes a combined effort to do what the team does and every member of the team, including Temby, is an expert at what they do whether that’s maintenance on the jets from the team’s California hanger or piloting the jets themselves.

“I’m honored to be part of this operation. We’re all about making a difference.”

Each pilot on the Patriots Jet Team is a tested professional volunteering their time to fly the team’s six to 12 air shows each year. Since 2002, the jet team’s flown over 1500 airshows at events like the Travis AFB Air Show and Fleet Week in San Francisco, California with more than 105,000 hours of flight time.

However, the team isn’t just about throwing a great air show. The Patriots Jet Team brings their expertise to students through the Patriots Jet Team Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to inspiring the nation’s youth to apply themselves to STEM, aviation and space. Through the foundation, the team mentors young students in STEM, aviation, space travel, and more to inspire future generations of aviation experts. With almost two decades of volunteering together as a team, the jet team’s challenge coins represent a rare bond that Temby is proud to share with the members of the team.

Designing the Patriots Jet Team Challenge Coin

Apart from just making an eye-catching coin, we wanted this challenge coin to catch the awe and amazement of the crowds when the jet team takes flight and reflect the patriotic spirit of its members. Most importantly, the coin design needed to connect personally to the efforts of the team as a whole.

Temby, our main point of contact through the project, was invaluable throughout coin design. Sharing several dynamic photos taken the air shows and as the narrator, his knowledge of the team’s aerobatics and personality was an invaluable wellspring of inspiration. With Temby’s help, we set out to create 500 custom challenge coins for the Patriots Jet Team that could each member of the team could relate and feel a personal connection with.

Plating and the Coin’s Front Face

As a team coin, meant to honor the jet team as a unit, it was logical for us to plate the coin in matte gold for a classic antique look. While the high polish shown in the proof lends a brighter look, the darkened gold metal of antique plating brings out the details in the coin’s 3D image. Not to mention, its a classic metal choice for award coins meant to honor the outstanding efforts of the jet team.

For Temby, the front face of the coin might just be his favorite face of the coin as it features the awe-struck face of his granddaughter watching the team’s jets soaring in full formation over the team hanger. He gave us photos of the team in flight, his daughter, and the team’s hanger, which we then we adapted into a challenge coin design with a 3D mold.

Getting the images from a photograph molded in 3D is usually the best way to capture details like the texture of the hanger in the background or the joyful expression of Temby’s granddaughter. With the right Pantone colors, the coin has a splash of patriotic fervor on the smoke clouds behind the jets, recreating the colors of the smoke clouds from the photograph and giving the coin an extra visual pop.

The Reverse Face

Spinning the coin around, the coin’s reverse face features a dynamic shot of two pilots in their jets zooming past each other in a daring aerobatic maneuver Temby calls an “opposing hit.”

“Those planes are flying past each other at 700 miles per hour. With a closure between them that looks inches apart.”

Catching the team’s jet right in the middle of an opposing hit isn’t just a cool image to use, it says a lot about the Patriots Jet Team’s expertise while giving you a dynamic central shot of the team’s jets. Continuing to run with the patriotic theme, a flapping American flag waves in the background while the jets themselves are colored in black to create visual contrast against the bright backdrop.

In contrast with the front face of the coin, the reverse is stamped entirely in 2D to create a very stylized look to the main image and give us more room to play with the colors on both the jet and the flag backdrop. The end result leads to a much more colorful take on this side of the coin, especially compared to the more subdued design of the foundation side of the coin. If the foundation side of the coin takes pride in the team’s public works and community support, this side of the coin promotes their personal expertise and confidence as members of the Patriot’s Jet Team.

More Than Just an Air Show

One of the biggest things that struck us about the Patriots Jet Team is the inspiration they bring to the communities they visit, not only as an amazing air show but also in their role as instructors and youth members. The jet team unveiled these coins to every member after a recent show at Travis Air Force Base. Each member, Temby included, received five coins each. One for themselves and four more to coin out to people they feel deserve them the most.

“I don’t leave home without it,” Temby says. “Not even when I’m out on the water.”

Overall, we’re proud of the design and happy to hear that the team’s response to the coin design was completely positive and prouder still to find our logo flying alongside the team’s jets at their show in Travis Air Force Base where the team honored our efforts by adding our name to one of their six jets. Teaming up with the biggest volunteer-run jet team in the Western Hemisphere is by far one of the most interesting projects AllAboutChallengeCoins has done as we close the first quarter of 2019.

Interested in starting your own project with us? Shoot us a message! With a dedicated team of expert artists, AllAboutChallengeCoins will turn your ideas into stunning coin designs.