Airplane models at the SFO Museum

A new exhibition at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) features model aircraft from the collection of the SFO Museum.

The types of airplane models, as well as the methods and materials used to construct them, have greatly varied over time. Yet model aircraft can be broadly categorized into two major types: ‘flying models, which fly similar to real aircraft and generally use radio controls and engines, and ‘static models’ which are built primarily for display,” the exhibit notes tell us.

The airplane models in this exhibit are from the twentieth century and were commissioned by airlines and aircraft manufacturers. Many of the models on exhibit are intricately detailed cutaway versions specificilly designed to give prospective customers at airports, airline sales offices, and travel agencies a view right into into the airliner’s cabin. 

While there are thirteen airplane models in this exhibit, the SFO Museum’s collection includes nearly two thousand models representing a broad range of aircraft. Four of the models in this exhibition are unique static-display models scratch-built by Edward Chavez, a recognized master in the modeling community. And five of the airliner models are Gary Field (b. 1956) using similar methods to leading airliner model makers of the last century. 

A Cut Above: Airplane Models from the SFO Museum Collection is on view pre-security in the International Departures Hall at San Francisco International Airport through January 26, 2025.

All images courtesy of SFO Museum.

Virgin Australia Picks Up Its 1st Boeing 737-8

Virgin Australia First 737-8 Delivery Event Seattle – Courtesy Boeing

A team from Virgin Australia was in Seattle this week to take delivery of the carrier’s first Boeing 737-8 aircraft.

Picking up a new plane is a big deal anytime. But this is the first of 33 MAX family aircraft the carrier plans to take delivery of over the next five years. The order includes eight 737-8s and twenty-five 737-10s.

This first 737-8 For Virgin Australia is registered as VH-8IA and is named Monkey Mia.

The name is in line with Virgin Australia’s tradition of naming its aircraft after Australian bodies of water. And Monkey Mia is in the Shark Bay region of Western Australia, which became Western Australia’s first World Heritage-listed site in 1991.

The plane is flying from Seattle to Brisbane, Australia with a stopover in Hawaii and leaves Seattle with a fuel load that includes 30 percent Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF).

“These new aircraft will allow us to grow capacity and support more efficient jet services,” said Virgin Australia Chief Operations Officer Stuart Aggs. He noted that these MAX aircraft are a critical part of the airline’s decarbonization plans and “will reduce emissions by at least 15 percent per flight compared to the 737-800 NG fleet, supporting our commitment to targeting net zero emissions by 2050.”

In addition to being fuel efficient, the 737-8 is approximately 40 percent quieter than Virgin Australia’s current 737-800 NG fleet and has the airline’s new generation seats, which include device holders and in-seat power.

On a tour of Boeing’s 737 plant in Renton, WA, the Virgin Australia team was able to see the unique “hay loader” system Boeing uses to deliver new airline seats from the factory floor onto planes.

Why don’t we all own flying cars?

Cars. Airplanes. Both are great ways to get around.

But wouldn’t it be great if the two were put together so the same vehicle could get you where you needed to go no matter what the traffic conditions?

Lots of people have been working on making that dream of flying cars – or roadable aircraft – a reality.

But we’re not there quite yet.

These short videos about Robert Fulton Jr.’s Airphibian – on display at the Smitshsonian National Air & SpaceMuseum; Moulton’s Taylor’s Aerocar – see one at Seattle’s Museum of Flight – and the this-could-be-yours for just $98,000 Jetson One – (a nod to flying car in The Jetsons cartoon show) – prove that it could happen.

Miss flying? Make your own paper airplane

It will be a while until you can visit a United Polaris lounge and order the specialty cocktail that comes with a little cut-out of a paper airplane.

But you can use your at-home time to make your own paper airplanes.

Reno-Tahoe International Airport’s (RNO) Kindness Takes Flight Home Edition has this handy downloadable paper airplane design that includes numbered instructions.

The Fold ‘n Fly site offers a database of paper airplane designs, with instructions and videos, that can be searched by difficulty and type, i.e. acrobatic, time aloft, etc.

My favorite is the one that is designed to fly like a bee.

And, once you’ve made your paper airplane, you might want to download instructions for making a paper airplane launcher, courtesy of Scientific American.

And let’s take a moment to celebrate the fact that since 2017 the paper airplane has been a soaring member of the National Toy Hall of Fame housed at the Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York.

Here’s part of the Strong’s ode to the paper airplane:

… The success of the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk in 1903 fostered renewed hope of powered flight and no doubt contributed to the purported invention, in 1909, of the paper airplane. The principles that make an airplane fly are the same that govern paper versions. Paper’s high strength and density make it similar, scale-wise, to the materials used to construct airplanes...

…Play with paper airplanes is far from formulaic and constrained. Where some toys require financial investment, paper airplanes start with a simple sheet of paper, coupled with dexterity, to produce a toy with infinite aeronautical possibilities.