Museums are great places to go to when you want to observe and learn about fine arts, history, the sciences, and just about every other topic that can touch the imagination of man. How you display the artifacts, art pieces, and other items must help to make the display appear natural and appealing. (image via

Sometimes the weight of the items limits how they can be displayed. The display of very heavy objects like, say an airplane, may cause museum exhibit planners to opt for placing them on the floor. However, that could cause space issues that could limit the size of the display or offer obstructions for museum visitors who roam the exhibits.

When it comes to space issues, many museum exhibition planners are turning toward methods that include hanging the heavy items from the ceiling. If you are interested in hanging your own historical pieces or just model airplanes, jump to our instruction section here.

Air and Space-saving Style

That is what museums that host air and space memorabilia have turned to. Museums all over the world that feature such items are hanging them from the ceiling. The Smithsonian Institution’s Air and Space Museum is just one example of an establishment that is using this method to showcase airplanes of historic significance. The museum has two locations –- one in Washington, DC and one at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. These planes include:

– The Wright Flyer, the first powered airplane to take to the air at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina on December 17, 1903.
– The American Aerolights Double Eagle, the first ultralight aircraft used by the police.
– The Ford 5-AT Tri-Motor, also known as the “Tin Goose” that was the largest civil aircraft in America when it flew for the first time on August 2, 1926
– The Pitts S-1S Special biplane, known as the ultimate competition aerobatic aircraft in the early 1970s.

Airplanes are not only heavy; they are also large and are made of all sorts of materials that may affect the area of the ceiling that is accommodating the weight.

For example, The Wright Flyer (above) is constructed of a wood airframe covered by fabric muslin and includes an aluminum engine crankcase. It has a 40-foot, 4-inch wingspan; it is 21-feet, 1-inch long; it stands 9-feet, 4-inches tall; and has a gross weight of 750-pounds.

The American Aerolights Double Eagle has a 35-foot wingspan; it is 15-feet long, 10-feet tall, and has a gross weight of 660-pounds.

The Ford 5-AT Tri-Motor (below) includes aluminum, iron, cooper, and metal alloys as well as leather, fabrics, plastics, glass, rubbers, insulation and internal airplane components. Its wingspan is 77-feet, 10-inches; it is 49-feet, 10-inches tall; and has a gross weight of 12,650-pounds.

How Do Museums Hang Airplanes?

The Pitts S-1S Special biplane is made of steel and fabric covering and has an upper wingspan of 17-feet, 4-inches, a length of 15-feet, 6-inches; a height of 5-feet, 6-inches and a gross weight of 1,100-pounds.

How Do Museums Hang Airplanes?

Hanging Model Airplanes

Items necessary for hanging a model airplane include:

✓ Wire Coat Hangar
✓ Pliers capable of cutting wire
✓ Wire
✓ Eyelets or Loopholes

A brief instruction: Insert eyelets onto solid parts of the plane, thread wire through the loops, and attach the wires to the appropriate hook that can be attached to the ceiling.

If you would like to preserve the integrity of your walls and display a more clean, elegant presentation, a rail-system is a wise choice.
Shades Picture Hanging Systems has STAS hanging hardware that can be used to hang airplanes. The system includes ceiling hooks that can be used on suspended ceilings, perlon loop cord or steel loop cable, Smartspring, Zipper hooks or zipper pro security hooks to hang the object from the drop ceiling hook.

Shades STAS Cliprail Max Kit permits an installation that is flush against the ceiling. The kit includes a rail that is 59-1/16-inches long, two 59-inch Cobra Perlon Cords, two Smartspring® picture frame hangs, one combicap, one rail connector and installation hardware. Just add more hooks and wire to accommodate heavier objects.

If you are a member of a family who includes someone who likes to construct model airplanes and display them, then you may want to consider hanging them from the ceiling. The task is not difficult!

Rail-system Method

A hanging system kit offers total ease and preservation of your walls. These all-in-one kits are perfect for hanging airplanes. Shades offers STAS-brand kits that can be used to hang model airplanes. They include:

STAS Dropping Ceiling Hook with Loop Perlon Cord and Zipper Hook.
STAS Drop Ceiling Hook, Loop Perlon Cord, and Zipper Pro Security Hook.

Although a do-it-yourselfer or a staff at a museum can go out and purchase each item needed to hang an airplane or model airplane individually from a hardware store or chain, it may be better to purchase everything you need in one kit or system so there are no questions concerning whether the hardware will accommodate the item you wish to hang. Shades Picture Hanging has the appropriate hanging system or kits that will permit you to hang a real or model airplane.

Traditional Hanging Methods

Items you will need to hang a model airplane from the ceiling include:

✓ A Model Airplane
✓ A Needle
✓ A Candle and Matches
✓ Fishing Line
✓ Glue
✓ Marker
✓ Ceiling Hook

  1. First determine where the model airplane will hang. It can go high enough to avoid hitting heads or in a spot that is out of the way. Recessed ceilings are a great location, but corners are good too.
  2. Light the candle and then heat the needle over the candle until it is red hot. Quickly wipe away any soot from the needle and then insert it straight into the plastic of the model airplane. Place one hole near the cockpit area, one near the tail, and one in the top center of each wing.
  3. Use heavy-test fishing line. Measure the distance you want the plane to hang from the ceiling and add another 12-inches. So if you want your plane to hang 20-inches from the ceiling, measure out 52-inches of fishing line and cut (20 + 20 = 52) and cut two lines.
  4. Push the line through the holes. Push one end of one line into the forward hole in the fuselage and secure in place with a drop of superglue. Push the other end of the same line in the aft hole and secure that with a drop of superglue. This line will align the pitch of the plane’s nose.Take the second line and put one side in each of the holes on the each wing. This line will manage the angle of the wings.
  5. Ceiling hook setup. Attach a ceiling hook to the ceiling where you want to hang the model.Suspend both lines from the model onto the hook. Pull the lines up and down to adjust the alignment of the plane until it is hanging in the desired position.Use the marker to place a mark on each line where it contacts the hook.Remove the lines from the hook and tie them together at the marks.Hang the plane from the knots to test angles before cutting off any excess line and then re-hang over the hook.
  6. Test the hanging position.Use monofilament loops to hang wood or metal models. Loop under the fuselage, around the tail section, near the nose, and the wings and hang from any fastening point.
Juan Gil

The author Juan Gil

Leave a Response