Gray Airplane Historical replica
In 1912, George Gray flew his airplane over Lake Champlain to Burlington, Vermont and made history. It was the first flight into Vermont. In 2019, the Burlington International Airport commissioned us to build a 1/2 scale authentic replica as the centerpiece to their upcoming 100th anniversary.
This project was an excellent example of how we sink our teeth into the subject matter and use any and all materials and techniques to achieve the look we're after.
We installed the completed model, with its 20' wingspan, in November 2019 where it hangs on permanent display.
Client: Burlington International airport
Research and Authenticity
This project required extensive research in order for us to bring authenticity to our reproduction and as much accuracy as possible. We had to know how the original was built, what materials were used and how it worked. This project gave us all a great appreciation for the people who built and flew these early aircraft, their engineering, ingenuity and their courage.
Engineering and Problem Solving
We had our own engineering to do because though our model had to look like the real thing, it needed to hang safely in the airport, where upwards of a million people a year pass underneath. Where the original plane was built to be lightweight, ours was built for safety, but has to LOOK lightweight - we love these kinds of challenges. Our model is built around our steel frames, with wooden ribbing added to give the wings the proper shape, and the exposed steel painted to appear as wood.
Matthew Sylvester expertly paints a faux wood grain over exposed steel framework. Our artists had to apply their skills in many ways on this model. Sometimes it was to make one material look like another- steel for wood, plastic for steel are a couple of examples. Sometimes it was to give a newly fabricated piece a subtle weathering to make it look like it had seen some flight time use.
High Tech Low Tech
We used both high tech and low tech solutions to our challenges on this build. The engine is a good example of that having used 3D modeling, CNC and 3D printed parts along with good old fashioned scratch built model making to achieve a believable result.
All Hands on Deck
A project like this takes over the shop. We worked on and around the large sections of the plane model for months. Extra help was brought in, and we are lucky to have an excellent extended team of freelance artists and makers. The entire team put their heart into this project.