Look upward in Italian architect Luigi Prina’s studio and you will quickly be whisked away into a magical world of flying ships. The collection of hand-constructed mechanisms are suspended from the ceiling in a lively display overhead but they don’t need to be attached with string to actually fly. Prina began building model ships from a very young age. When he was just 16 years old, he won an award for one of his beautiful constructions, and the judges were quite surprised by such a young artist.
Fifty years later, Prina made a bet with Venetian painter and boat builder Eugenio Tomiolo, stating that he could make one of his models fly. When Prina showed up at Tomiolo’s studio and cast his first ship into flight, they were both delighted by the wonder of the machine circling the space overhead.
Now, for the past 20 years of retirement, Prina has constructed more than 200 of these flying ships. The designs are made out of very thin paper and balsa wood and the propeller is powered by an elastic band that carries the extremely light vehicles–weighing no more than 2 ounces–through the air. Prina is passionate about aviation and literature and combines those two interests into telling beautiful stories with his winged bicycles and boats.