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Photo Of The Week For October 30, 2020—Mystery Rock Crushes Small Homebuilt Airplane (Psst… We Know What Happened)

It seems impossible that there’s a good explanation for this photograph. But there is. Kind of, at least. And we know what it is.

Encore Tranquillite

Our Plane & Pilot Photo of the Week is no great work of art. Not one person is in the photo. There’s a plane in it, sure, but the star is a 10-ton (our best guess) rock. There’s no sentimental tug on the heartstrings, no joy at slipping the surly bounds. In fact, in this plane anyways, flight is out of the question. The photo comes from a good source, and it’s clear what it shows. A little homebuilt crushed by a giant boulder. How did they get there, both the plane and the rock? We presumed the plane had just flown in but was in an unlucky spot.

Then we asked how in the world the rock could’ve gotten there, and we’re coming up with nothing. It couldn’t have rolled, because that would have left a mark, a sign of the rock having trampled the grass on its path. And it couldn’t have bounced, because we’re not seeing the kind of damage to the plane a forward bouncing rock would make. This looks as though it dropped directly down from the sky. We’ve heard of golf-ball sized hail, but this is ridiculous.

The real story is far less fantastic, and it made us a little mad, too, but it’s also pretty cool. The whole thing is a work of art (okay, you be the judge of that). According to an article in the publication of the National Gallery of Canada, the piece, is called Encore Tranquillité, French for “Calm Once More.” The artist is Jimmie Durham, a highly respected American artist of Cherokee descent, who has for years been smashing things, including a Ford Fiesta, with giant “boulders.” The other pertinent fact here is that the boulder is made of fiberglass. Shhh…don’t tell!

Durham, who’s from Arkansas but lives in Berlin these days, bought the plane in Germany and smashed it at an airfield in Russia. For the record, Durham was a bit ambivalent. He thought the plane was cool, telling the author of the National Gallery that he admired the plane, which he referred to as an “artisanal work.” (Attn, EAA. Maybe this is a good angle for the millenials?)


The sculpture (again, your call, though it’s growing on us) is on display at Canada’s National Gallery in Ottawa. 


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