'Festival of Planes'

From the sublime to the ridiculous: a hand-painted Pacific Aircraft collector's model of a B-17 stands next to 'Duck on Bike,' both part of the Aviation Museum of New Hampshire's first-ever holiday 'Festival of Toy Planes.' The exhibit now includes a nightly demonstration of working toys Wednesdays though Sundays at 6:30 p.m. The exhibit runs through Sun., January 12 at the Aviation Museum of N.H., 27 Navigator Way, Londonderry. For more info, visit www.aviationmuseumofnh.org or call 603-669-4820.

LONDONDERRY — As toys, they were meant to be played with. And five nights a week at 6:30 p.m., that's exactly what will happen.

Each evening it's open to the public, the Aviation Museum will host a demonstration of working vintage toys as part of its first-ever holiday 'Festival of Toy Planes.'

The program includes working toy coin banks promoting Lindbergh's 1927 solo flight across the Atlantic, a plastic two-player Disney airplane game with Goofy as pilot, and magnetic and friction-powered UFO toys.

The demo also includes toy planes for young children that whir, beep, and prowl the floor like ancestors of today's robot vacuums. Superheroes represented include Wonder Woman, piloting her translucent aircraft while crying out warnings to evil-doers when tapped on her head.

But the audience favorite so far is a metal mechanical wind-up toy, 'Duck on Bike,' still in its original cardboard box. Wound up by a metal key, 'Duck on Bike' pedals a bike in a wide circle while three feathers spin rapidly above the duck's head.

"Maybe it's the simplicity, but something about 'Duck on Bike' captures people's imaginations," said Jeff Rapsis, executive director of the Aviation Museum of New Hampshire, where the exhibit is on display through Sun., January 12.

During the 'Festival of Toy Planes,' the museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 5 to 8 p.m. to give families shopping or viewing holiday lights a chance to stop by and enjoy the exhibit, which features thousands of toy planes and model aircraft from three separate collections.

The exhibit features aviation-themed toys, models, puzzles, and promotional items from throughout the 20th century, from the Wright Brothers to Buzz Lightyear. Also on display are vintage aircraft piloted by celebrities including Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse, Elmo, and Barbie.

The exhibit uses toys and model aircraft to trace aviation history from the beginning of powered flight through to the present day.

"For a century now, children have been finding toy planes and model aircraft among their holiday gifts," Rapsis said. "No matter what decade you grew up in, our 'Festival of Planes' exhibit will help you rediscover the toys that first acquainted you with the magic of flight."

The 'Festival of Planes' exhibit of aviation toys and model aircraft is included with museum admission of $10.00 per person; $5.00 seniors 65+, veterans/active military, students under 13. Members and children under age 5, free.

In addition to the special evening hours for the 'Festival of Planes,' the museum is open Fridays and Saturdays 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. and Sundays 1:00-4:00 p.m.

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.

The Aviation Museum of N.H. is located at 27 Navigator Road, Londonderry. It can be reached via Exit 1 on Interstate 293 in Manchester and heading south on South Willow Street past the Mall of New Hampshire entrance; then follow the brown "Aviation Museum" directional signs.

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