Metal into Air Craft

Plane being installed

Rivers Metal Products is used to receiving unique requests. In fact, the company enjoys them. So when Lincoln artist Shannon Hansen came to Rivers Metal Products with a maquette of a large-scale paper airplane, Todd Rivers first words were “interesting.”

The project arose from the city’s efforts to enhance key entry points into Lincoln, which utilized only local talent to create its permanent installation. The sculpture titled Pitch, Roll & Yaw, is 14,000 pounds, 23-feet tall, with a 20-foot wingspan.

The Duncan Family Trust, created by the Karen and Robert Duncan family, funded -- and inspired -- the idea for the sculpture. A marble paper airplane from Italy in their own collection gave them the idea said Robert Duncan, former chairman of Duncan Aviation. The Duncans and their curator approached Hansen and knew of Rivers Metal Products reputation for fabrication with other artists.

“The Rivers Metal Products crew were instrumental in taking the maquette and helping to figure out the size, scale and design,” said Hansen.

It was design and fabrication on the fly throughout the 18-month project, said Hansen. Based on a 3D CAD Rivers Metal Products created of the plane’s interior structure, they suggested a change to the base to have more welding area. A metal plate was fabricated to hide fasteners and blend into the design. A skeleton wrapped in 12-gauge metal reduced weight yet retained the structure’s strength.

“Rivers Metal Products has done enough crazy projects to engineer it right,” said Hansen.

In 2015, the massive metal paper airplane was installed near the entrance to the Lincoln Airport. Hansen is pleased with the final results, which he calls a great public art project, “It’s a fun piece that can be recognized immediately.”

Connie Duncan, a trustee for the Duncan Family Trust, said they love the paper airplane, “It’s whimsical, and it represents our family so well. It makes an indelible impression on that Lincoln corridor.”

Celebrating 50 years as a metal fabricator, Rivers Metal Products is a recognized leader in the design and fabrication of custom metal products across the nation and the world. As an industry pioneer and innovator, Rivers Metal Products provides customized, knowledgeable metal solutions. Adaptability and expertise mean Rivers Metal Products is well positioned to handle the needs of diverse customers across many industries. For more information, visit

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