Flying High

A childhood passion for aviation inspired Bill Hanes when he returned to carving after a 20-year hiatus

By Kathleen Ryan

As a young boy, Bill Hanes built plastic model planes and hung them from his bedroom ceiling. Decades later, he combined that childhood fascination with his love of woodworking to create realistic wooden aircraft replicas. “I’d been involved with soccer in my spare time for 20 years when I got the urge to give it up and start carving again,” Bill recalled. “Creating aircraft replicas just seemed like the natural place to start. I was hooked after the very first one!”

The Texas woodworker has carved more than 2,000 aircraft. He achieves authenticity down to the tiniest detail through hours of research. Once he selects a model, Bill makes three-view drawings on the computer to use as patterns. The aircraft range from tiny to huge, with the majority sporting a 12″ to 18″ wingspan. Rather than paint the planes, Bill selects wood in a variety of natural colors. “I use butternut for carving the fuselage and wings, aspen for canopies and the white in the invasion stripes, Peruvian walnut for black, yellowheart for propeller tips, and green poplar for olive.” He carves the display stands from mahogany.

According to Bill, the hardest aspect is parting with his planes. “As I carve each one I fall in love with it, whether it is a B-36, P-51 Mustang, Junkers Ju-87, or Japanese Mitsubishi A6M5 Reisen (Zero). But I console myself in knowing that I can always make more!”

Contact Bill at bythewoods1@yahoo.com.

Bill Hanes crafted this Mustang P-51D carving from a variety of hardwoods.

Bill Hanes also crafted this Huey UH-1P Bell Helicopter from a variety of hardwoods.

Learn to make your own vehicles in the book Amazing Vehicles You Can Make available from www.foxchapelpublishing.com for $15.95 plus S&H.

CLICK HERE to see more great projects from Woodcarving Illustrated Spring 2017 (Issue 78), including patterns for the original Meisel Hardware Specialties project. CLICK HERE to purchase the issue.

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