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Book Name: Sixteen Flying Machines, inspired by Leonardo da Vinci

Date Reviewed:
14 June 2007

Author: Unknown

Year of original book/Year of my copy - 1990/1995
Pages - 34 pages
Cover Price - $5.50

Number of Planes - 4 Planes

Names of Planes - No named planes

Level of difficulty - 4 out of 10

This is a good concept, executed very well, but it falls short of expectations. Let's take
my complaints with this one by one.

Sixteen Flying Machines - While there are indeed 16 paper airplanes in the kit, there are
only 4 designs, so you are in fact building  the same planes 4 times.

Inspired by Leonardo da Vinci - I don't recognize any of these planes in da Vinci's
drawings, but perhaps I just haven't seen them there.

Little Text - Very little background is given on Leonardo, and most of that is on the
envelope that holds the sheets of paper. Of the 34 pages in this, 32 pages are the sheets
of paper for the paper airplanes.

That being said, I still like this concept, and this book/let was done very well. The paper
for the paper airplanes is top quality and the design of them really make them look like
they could have been torn out of da Vinci's notebooks. The 4 designs are decent and fly
very well, and the instructions are complete and very well done. There are even directions
on how to make a paper airplane mobile included. I would still purchase this, but I think it
is overpriced for what you get in it.

To improve this, I think that a couple pages on da Vinci's life and times are in order, and
at least 4 more airplane designs. Hopefully, more accurately based on his designs.

Total Score: 4 out of 10.
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Front of Envelope
Back of Envelope
Check out the planes I made using the instructions in the book!
Plane A
No named planes in book!

All the planes were made with
paper included in kit. There
were 4 copies of each plane,
colored on both sides.
Plane B
Mobile Design

This was actually quite nice to
have hanging in The Museum
for a couple days. It took up
too much room for me to
leave up, but with proper
placement could be very
decorative in another room.
Mobie Design

Here is another view of the
mobile, it is kinda difficult to
capture it on a camera!.
Plane D
Plane C
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I have not been able to locate this book for sale in the internet anywhere.
I purchased mine on ebay.

I have written the editors, and asked them if they still sell this.
I will let you know what I find out!

If I can, I will make this either available online for free,
or an inexpensive copy to be purchased.
Updated 8 July 2009

I was recently contacted by the late author's sons, and given permission to make these designs available to all! And to top it
off, they sent me literally hundreds of copies to hand out for free! What a great bunch of guys!

Here is the story behind the planes as told by his son Jason,

" Dennis Hommel designed the Leonardo da Vinci Airplanes in the early 1990's, as the 4th or 5th "skin" or artwork for his
paper airplane packages.  Some of the original designs were solid color planes with unique "space" names.  In the late 70's,
Dennis went commercial, and created a version for Pizza Hut and Mr. Pibb.  In the late 1980's, Dennis created a series of
designs based on the "space" theme as that was popularized from Star Wars, Star Trek, and Battlestar Galactica, however, he
never printed up the designs as his teenage kids thought they were "corney" and that craze was thought to be nearly over.  
Going back to the drawing board, Dennis thought of a more original inspiration, Leonardo da Vinci, and created a fun way to
present the airplanes, as "originally" inspired by Leonardo, with backwards writing that could be read only in a mirror, which
was a part of the wooden retail display case.

While the paper airplanes were always a sort of "side hobby" to his main business of being a graphic designer and advertising
executive, they did manage to be slightly profitable.  The Leonardo designs proved to be the most commercially successful
design, especially with the aid of a national distributor who was able to place them in about 300 toy shops, gift shops,
museums, and hobby stores across the nation.  Dennis did at least two big print runs of the Leonardo designs, costing him
about $65,000 up front on each print run to get the costs low enough, and he managed to nearly double his money each time.  
Of about 10-20 ideas for toys that would sell well in the gift and toy shops, this was the best one.  

Dennis Hommel passed away in 2004, and is survived by his three sons, Ted, Jason and Randy. "
You can view Jason's Site here at Silver Stock Report
Download the PDF here!