LONDONDERRY, NH — It’s a holiday exhibit designed to make your imagination take flight. And it’s now been extended to Sunday, Jan. 30.
It’s the ‘Festival of Planes,’ a display of more than 1,500 vintage aviation toys and model aircraft at the Aviation Museum of New Hampshire.
Due to sustained popularity, the museum will keep the exhibit open all the way through the end of January.
“The holiday season is past, but the ‘Festival of Planes’ has proven popular enough for us to keep it in place until Sunday, Jan. 30,” said Jeff Rapsis, the Aviation Museum’s executive director.
The Aviation Museum is open to the public on Fridays and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m.
The walk-through exhibit features aviation-themed toys, models, puzzles, and promotional items from the past 100 years. Themes range from the Wright Brothers to sci-fi favorites as Star Trek, Star Wars, and more.
Also on display are vintage toy aircraft piloted by celebrities including Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse, Elmo, and Barbie.
“You’ll find everyone from Charles Lindbergh to Buzz Lightyear in our display,” Rapsis said.
New this season for kids (and the young at heart) is the Aviation Museum’s “Find Santa” interactive challenge.
Young visitors are tasked with navigating the maze-like toy exhibit to locate Santa, who was last seen flying the red biplane he favors when not piloting a reindeer-powered sleigh full of presents.
Those who successfully find Santa are rewarded with a special Aviation Museum stamp and other prizes.
The Holiday Festival of Planes, a combination of several collections as well as items from the Aviation Museum’s own archive, uses toys and model aircraft to trace the history of flight.
The festival is also intended to reconnect visitors to the aviation toys of their childhood.
“For so many kids, their first close encounter with the magic of flight was that model plane under the Christmas tree,” Rapsis said. “There’s a good chance they’ll find it again in our exhibit.”
The exhibit also includes a demonstration of working toys that children are encouraged to play with.
Other new additions to the annual holiday exhibit is a holiday tree decorated entirely with vintage air sickness bags.
The Aviation Museum follows all recommended COVID-19 public health protocols. Facial coverings are required for visitors inside the building.
The ‘Festival of Planes’ exhibit is supported by the Top Fun Aviation Museum of Fitchburg, Mass.; Manchester-Boston Regional Airport; Aubin Hardware of Goffstown; and the Cogswell Benevolent Trust.
The main source of toys and models on display is the collection of the Top Fun Aviation Toy Museum, which totals more than 3,000 items and was recently acquired by Aviation Museum of N.H.
Other sources include a fleet of hand-made model aircraft built by Howard Becker of Goffstown, N.H. and recently donated to the Aviation Museum; and a collection of pristine Pacific Aircraft collectible models donated in 2019 by Mauro Scali of Londonderry, N.H.
The ‘Festival of Planes’ exhibit of aviation toys and model aircraft is included with museum admission of $10 per person; $5 children under 13, seniors 65+, veterans/active military. Members and children age 5 and under, free.
The Aviation Museum of N.H. is located at 27 Navigator Road, Londonderry, N.H. 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.
Toys or models in the ‘Festival of Planes’ are not for sale, but the Aviation Museum gift shop offers a range of aviation-themed gifts, toys, and mementos.
All proceeds support the Aviation Museum of N.H., a non-profit 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization dedicated to celebrating New Hampshire’s role in aviation history and inspiring tomorrow’s pioneers, innovators and aerospace professionals.