New Indy Airport Unveils Unique 'Wing'

By Tom Hale | September 28, 2010

Using a crane and two aerial work platforms, a crew for Chicago-based Methods & Materials Inc. carefully installed the newest piece of artwork at the New Indianapolis Airport terminal — a 35-foot-tall sculpture, featuring an actual wing from an F-14 Tomcat plane. The artwork, called "Cardinalis," was commissioned by the Indianapolis Airport Authority. It pays homage to Hoosier aviation pioneers Orville and Wilbur Wright and refers to the state bird of Indiana.

Internationally noted sculptor John Van Alstine supervised placement of the sculpture. The installation is the latest in a series of commissioned works designed as part of the New Indianapolis Airport art program. Van Alstine, who recently completed a bronze-and-granite sculpture at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, says Cardinalis, in which the red-painted wing is connected to the earth by a sweeping arch, symbolizes the "bridging" between earth and sky that is the function of airports.

The granite trim for the sculpture was hand-fabricated by the artist. Art Research Enterprises, Lancaster, Pa., fabricated the rest of the metalwork using an actual F-14 wing provided by the U.S. Navy.

Cardinalis was erected in an outdoor garden site at the new terminal — it is raised five feet off the ground on an earth berm. The siting of the sculpture was done in collaboration with Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf, the airport's landscape designer.