Luca Iaconi-Stewart is building a paper airplane unlike anything you've ever seen before — and it's taking him years to get it just right. He's building a 1:60 scale model of a Boeing 777, one so detailed even the tiny chairs and bathrooms look real. There are even miniature meal carts. He starts by printing out object designs and then slicing them down with an X-Acto knife, before gluing it all together. Iaconi-Stewart's building material of choice is the manila file folder, something he first started using in a high school architecture class. "Even back then I found it a really versatile material; it's flexible enough to shape and mold, but it can be incredibly strong if you engineer it properly," he tells The Verge. "I never really tried anything else."
Despite all the time and effort put into the model so far, there's still a long way to go — and Iaconi-Stewart's next task might just be the most difficult yet. "I've just started the preliminary design phase of the wings," he says, "and I can say that they will be, without a doubt, the single most complex part of the entire project." If you're as interested in the small details as he is, Iaconi-Stewart also has a YouTube channel where he shows off everything from a time-lapse of a month-long painting process, to demoing how the tiny doors actually open and close.
"I definitely go through phases where I have very little motivation," he says of the project, "but when I manage to build something exactly as I intended and envisioned, it's a pretty thrilling feeling."
Images courtesy Luca Iaconi-Stewart
- An early version of the nose, which was eventually smoothed over
- An updated, more detailed version of the nose
- The building blocks for first class
- Rows upon rows of economy-class seats
- Installing the seats
- The smallest meal carts you're likely to find
- The interior of the cabin before being furnished
- A sparsely furnished economy class
- A rare glimpse inside the cockpit
- Wheels for the landing gear
- A completed engine alongside an in-progress skeleton
- The fuselage actually opens up so you can get a good look at the interior