From Lindberg to Luke Skywalker, imagination takes flight in Aviation Museum’s ‘Festival of Planes’ toy exhibit | Holiday

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LONDONDERRY — From Lindbergh to Luke Skywalker, imagination takes flight in the Aviation Museum of New Hampshire’s new holiday exhibit.

The “Festival of Planes,” a display of more than 3,000 vintage aviation toys and model aircraft, will open this weekend at the Aviation Museum of New Hampshire.

“For a century now, children have been finding toy planes and model aircraft among their holiday gifts,” said Jeff Rapsis, executive director of the Aviation Museum. “No matter what decade you grew up in, (this) exhibit will help you rediscover the toys that first acquainted you with the magic of flight.”

The walk-through exhibit features aviation-themed toys, models, puzzles and promotional items from throughout the 20th century, from the Wright Brothers to such sci-fi favorites as “Star Trek” and “Star Wars.”

Vintage aircraft piloted by character celebrities including Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse, Elmo and Barbie also will be at the controls of toys from over the years.

The exhibit, a combination of several collections as well as items from the Aviation Museum’s archives, will use toys and model aircraft to trace aviation history from the beginning of powered flight through to the present day.

The walk-through exhibit is designed to be an immersive experience, complete with Christmas trees, a fire-placed living room and a starry winter sky filled with model planes flying overhead. Whenever possible, toys will be displayed with their original packaging.

Many of the aviation toys and model aircraft are on loan from the Top Fun Aviation Toy Museum. There also is a fleet of hand-made model aircraft built by Howard Becker of Goffstown and recently donated to the Aviation Museum; and a collection of pristine Pacific Aircraft collectible models donated last May by Mauro Scali of Londonderry.

“Our ‘Festival of Planes’ is 100 percent toys, but through it you can trace the whole history of the 20th century, from the custom-made cast iron planes of the Lindbergh era all the way through today’s mass-produced Hello Kitty airplane toys and accessories,” Rapsis said. “Along the way, you can see the presence of the World War II, the dawn of the Jet Age, the Space Race and the mood landings, and so much more.”

None of the items in the exhibition will be for sale, but the Aviation Museum gift shop will offer a wide range of aviation-themed holiday gifts, keepsakes and mementos.

“Festival of Planes,” to open Friday and run through Sunday, Jan. 12, at the museum, 27 Navigator Road, Londonerry, is included in regular admission fees, which are $5 to $10; it’s free for children under 5.

Hours are Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. In addition, the museum will be open from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays during the holiday season for evening viewing of “‘Festival of Planes.”


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