Air Traffic

This airship is far from aero-plain!

Ah, the open skies. Once mankind's greatest unconquered adventure, now just the place you go when you're on your way to Disneyland inside a giant hunk of metal. But still, there's so much magic about being up in the air, looking down in awe on the miniature mountains and rivers below you, wondering how Earth can be so big, and yet so tiny.

But if it's so wonderful to be on the inside of an aeroplane looking out, why can't it be just as wonderful from the outside looking in? Look, I'll say what we're all thinking: planes are just a bit boring. They're just big long grey tubes. Where's the colour? The innovation? The excitement?

Our fantastical builders in the world of Minecraft have the right idea: fish-shaped pirate ships in the sky, hot air balloons, and now – courtesy of Mr Novoa – we have big-bellied steampunk airships, too! None of this dull grey in these builds, oh no: Mr Novoa's striking aircraft combines a lovely rusted orange, made using terracotta, with vivid, neon green accents made of lime glass and concrete.

Look closely and you'll see the kind of detail we don't see in aeroplanes, too – probably because of boring reasons like "safety" and "aerodynamics". Mr Novoa's ship has no time for these things, and so you'll perhaps notice that there's a traffic light on its side, and some large windmill-things sticking out the back. These are actually propellers which keep the ship in place while it's flying, like a helicopter! No word on what the traffic light does, though.

Mr Novoa spends most of his time building "animals, people and fantastic beings," which you can check out in this incredible album. Organic builds can be difficult, because they're not very symmetrical, like buildings are, and often require a lot more study of colour and shape. For Mr Novoa, the non-organic airship build was a challenge, because of his experience with building creatures. "I decided on airships because I wanted to try different things," he says, "and because I love the designs of the machinery."

He began his build by searching for inspiration, eventually finding an image of a steampunk airship with a traffic light sticking out of it. Mr Novoa then began to create the ship by hand, using the image as a guide. He began in June 2018 and finished it in March 2019 – a total of nine months. "I was very busy with other projects," he admits, "as well as studies and personal things that made it take me a long time to complete the project."

He says there were many challenging details in the build that contributed to it taking so long, too, from the propellers to the turbines, but most of all, the main engine, which is actually the bit he started on first.

Although the airship is a beautiful creation, it doesn't seem like Mr Novoa is totally won over to the non-organic side of Minecraft builds. "I like to make giant animals or fantastic beings," he says. "I love the combination of the idea of fantastic beings with nature."

Two of his three favourite builds are more in the natural style: one is a creature that's part wolf, part tree, and another is a glistening white structure that he calls "Dream of Paradise". The third favourite, of course, is the airship, but after finishing this one, Mr Novoa intends to take a break from mechanical and technical builds. His next planned project? A citadel!

It may be a few years before we can look up at the real-world clouds and see aircraft like Mr Novoa's steampunk creation, Whether that's because the ones we have work perfectly fine, or because Mr Novoa's creation isn't exactly up to safety specifications, we'll never know. For now, at least, we can dream in blocks.

Renders by Blovien, and Maavi

Kate Gray