The Lituanica birds’ effigy is a wooden sculpture representing a flock of birds in flight, illuminated by an orange light.
Lituanica is the name of a famed airplane that was piloted by two Lithuanian-American pilots Steponas Darius and Stasys Girėnas in 1933. The Lituanica birds’ installation pays tribute to these heroic pilots and their historic journey across the Atlantic.
80 years ago, Darius and Girėnas departed from Floyd Bennett Field airport (New York) with the intention of conducting a non-stop flight to Kaunas, Lithuania. Their aircraft was an orange Bellanca CH-300 Pacemaker called - Lituanica (meaning Lithuania in Latin).
The two pilots set out July 15, 1933 on their journey across the Atlantic Ocean, covering a distance of 3,984 miles (6,411 kilometers) without landing, in 37 hours and 11 minutes (107.1 mph). Despite having successfully crossed the Atlantic, the Lituanica crashed due to undetermined circumstances on July 17th, killing both pilots. In terms of comparison, as far as the distance of non-stop flights was concerned, their result ranked second only to that of Russell Boardman and John Polando, and ranked fourth in terms of flight duration at the time (source: Wikipedia). Despite the fact that Darius and Girėnas did not have navigational equipment and flew under unfavorable weather conditions, their flight was one of the most precise in aviation history. It equaled, and in some aspects surpassed, Charles Lindbergh's classic flight of 1927. Oddly enough, Lituanica is also noted for having carried the first transatlantic air mail consignment in history.
Today, Lituanica symbolizes deep cultural ties and a fond connection between the US and Lithuania. This orange colored airplane is a well-known icon and historic symbol of the two pilots’ heroic, but tragic flight.
We believe that these symbolic Lituanica birds will unite all flocks of burners making their way to the desert each year from their nests scattered in different parts of the world, joining these burner-birds empowered by a sense of community and the desire to fly freely.
As a CORE project, we expect this merge of a well-known historical and cultural symbol to bring a deeper significance to our region. The symbolic gesture of honor via performance will be captured when setting the Lituanica birds ablaze. This unique and expressive symbol will inspire all burners flocking to the playa this year.
The dimensions of the sculpture are: 20 feet high (6 meters) and 20 feet wide.