Let It Fly! Model Airplanes by Peter Gutierrez

November 3 - December 8, 2013

Ever since his mother took him to an airshow and let him take a ride in a B-24, at age 9, Peter Gutierrez has been fascinated by airplanes. He started making drawings of aircraft, and then his grandfather, a civil engineer who spent a career working on cars, trains and other machines, encouraged him to work on model aircraft and gave him books on how to fold paper into airplanes. Before long, he ran out of room to display all the models he’s made from kits or from balsa wood or paper.

Part of his growing collection of invented aircraft were displayed in an Upper Gallery exhibit titled, “Let it Fly: Model Airplanes by Peter Gutierrez,” which opened Sunday, Nov. 3, 2013 with a free reception from 2 – 5 p.m. Peter returned to the Museum to give a demonstration of his aircraft-making skills on Sunday, Nov. 17, during the city’s regular Third Sunday Gallery Walk.

Peter has read nearly every book he could find on the history of flight, from Leonardo Da Vinci to the Wright brothers to the airplane manufacturers Boeing and Lockheed, and can identify most fighter planes and other planes, even the Russian models. He’s also a big fan of World War II movies, including Memphis Belle and Saving Private Ryan. For inspiration, he transcribes quotes that he finds in his reading about inventors and scientists and posts them on his walls. A recent one, very appropriately, was Carl Sagan’s “Somewhere, something is waiting to be known.”

Peter has channeled his passion for making airplanes into his science club, which met on Mondays at his old elementary school, as well as the robotics club. With other members of the club, he would make bomber-style planes out of paper, and devise wind-tunnel tests for them using a fan and string. Through persistent experimentation, he learned which designs would sustain flight the longest – he estimates that about 90% of his designs will fly. He credits his grandfather’s advice, “Just stick with it!” for the persistence to keep trying new models and figuring out how to make his robotic Lego sets work.

Now entering the 9th grade at Hoboken High School, Peter has set his sights on studying aerospace engineering in college, eventually working at an aircraft manufacturer like Boeing or Lockheed and then hopes to start his own aeronautics company someday. He’s also an invaluable assistant in the Museum’s summer camp and family day programs..

This exhibition was made possible by a Block Grant from the State/County Partnership program for the Arts administered by the Hudson County Division of Cultural and Heritage Affairs/Tourism Development, Thomas A. DeGise, County Executive, and the Board of Chosen Freeholders.