Art from the ground up

Lawrence artist Stan Herd putting together artistic send-off for GlobalFlyer's world trip

When pilot Steve Fossett takes off from Salina for his around-the-world flight attempt, he’ll have some extra scenery to look at provided by a Lawrence artist.

Stan Herd is in Salina this week preparing a crop artwork in connection with Fossett’s GlobalFlyer project, which aims to be history’s first solo, nonstop around-the-world flight.

The project could be one of the highest-profile works Herd has completed, as hundreds of media outlets around the world are expected to cover the GlobalFlyer attempt.

“I’ve never really done this before, but this is placing my art in the center of a news story,” Herd said. “It’s obvious I’m wanting people to see my talents, but I also think the celebration of around-the-world flight merits a celebration.”

The subject of Herd’s art is a sketch of a glider by Leonardo da Vinci, who was an early visionary of manned flight. He drew flying machines more than 400 years before manned flight was realized.

The bat-like image will spread over a 1 1/2-acre site about a half-mile north of the Salina Regional Airport, where the GlobalFlyer will take off. The work will contain the words “da Vinci 1500” and “Global Flyer 2005.”

“I liked the look of the sketch,” Herd said. “It’s probably one of the first technically drawn images of the idea of man being able to fly. This is an appropriate way to honor the GlobalFlyer flight, and at the same time Kansas aviation history. We’re the perfect state for this all to happen.”

Herd is hoping the image — a combination of untouched dirt, tilled soil and peat moss — will create a buzz among the nearly 300 media representatives signed up to cover the GlobalFlyer launch and landing.

No date has been set for the launch, which already has been delayed several times because of conditions in the jet stream. It is being sponsored by Virgin Atlantic and its founder, Richard Branson.

Artist Stan Herd measures where to dig his next line as he works on reproducing Leonardo da Vinci's glider sketch on a wheat field just north of the Salina Regional Airport, where GlobalFlyer will launch on an attempted nonstop, around-the-world flight. Herd is pictured on Feb. 10

Herd’s project is being funded by Lawrence resident Jim Schwartzburg, who founded PackerWare Corp. and is a friend of Herd’s. Herd said the entire work costs less than $5,000.

Schwartzburg said he was hoping for a north wind on the day of takeoff, since airplanes almost always take off into the wind. He hopes the GlobalFlyer will fly directly over the earthwork to get photographs.

“The winds have to be in the right direction,” he said. “If we get the right pictures and the plane takes off where his art is, it should get some attention. We know the flight will get a lot of media coverage.”

Herd looks at a grid he is working off to reproduce Leonardo da Vinci's glider. His earthwork will likely be seen around the world with media coverage of GlobalFlyer.

The project is helping increase the buzz in Salina surrounding the GlobalFlyer attempt, said Steve Burr, the real estate agent who helped Herd lease farm land for the project.

“Stan is one of those people who sees things differently than a lot of people do,” said Burr, brother of Lawrence attorney Lance Burr. “I think his concept is good. Da Vinci was probably one of the first ones to think of the concept of human flight.”

Herd said he thought that next to his Absolut Vodka earthwork — which was placed in magazine ads several years ago — the Salina piece had the potential of generating the most attention.

“A lot of people around the world will be paying attention to this thing,” Herd said. “The world’s news media will be here, and they’ll get a chance to see work from a Kansas artist. Salina’s got the most beautiful wheat fields in the country.”