Good Thinking

Flying, flaming horse rides high at Burning Man

Flying, flaming horse rides hi...
Wings of Glory, all lit up
Wings of Glory, all lit up
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Wings of Glory was designed using the Rhino 3D CAD system
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Wings of Glory was designed using the Rhino 3D CAD system
Adrian Landon, with some of the pieces of his sculpture
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Adrian Landon, with some of the pieces of his sculpture
Adrian Landon plans the installation of Wings of Glory
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Adrian Landon plans the installation of Wings of Glory
Nebula Rider gets placed on her base
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Nebula Rider gets placed on her base
In order to see Nebula Rider run, fly and flame all at the same time – for a timed one-minute period – Burning Man attendees had to work together, simultaneously pressing eight buttons that were situated around the base
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In order to see Nebula Rider run, fly and flame all at the same time – for a timed one-minute period – Burning Man attendees had to work together, simultaneously pressing eight buttons that were situated around the base
Wings of Glory, all lit up
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Wings of Glory, all lit up

It was four years ago that Brooklyn-based metal sculptor Adrian Landon presented us with a life-size Mechanical Horse that actually galloped on the spot. He's now taken things quite a bit further, with a giant flying horse that spouts flames as it runs.

Unveiled this September at the 2019 Burning Man event in the Nevada desert, the new piece is known as Wings of Glory. Landon tells us that the mythological horse depicted is a female pegasus named Nebula Rider.

Designed using the Rhino 3D CAD system, then constructed over a three-month period with help from engineers Tom West and Benjamin Bohn (among others), the sculpture has both a wingspan and height of approximately 35 ft (10.7 m).

It's made mainly out of laser-cut/welded steel and hand-hammered aluminum, and is powered by a single 2-hp motor that was obtained from a used 1980s-era golf cart. Along with a BMW rear differential, this allows the horse to slowly gallop in place, and to flap its wings.

In order to see Nebula Rider run, fly and flame all at the same time – for a timed one-minute period – Burning Man attendees had to work together, simultaneously pressing eight buttons that were situated around the base
In order to see Nebula Rider run, fly and flame all at the same time – for a timed one-minute period – Burning Man attendees had to work together, simultaneously pressing eight buttons that were situated around the base

And yes, at night, the wings, neck and tail shoot flames. This feature is made possible via a network of gas lines running to propane tanks located in the base of the sculpture.

In order to see Nebula Rider run, fly and flame all at the same time – for a timed one-minute period – Burning Man attendees had to work together, simultaneously pressing eight buttons that were also situated around the base.

"The idea to make a giant mechanical pegasus hit me like a thunderbolt and I was sent on a mission like Joan of Arc," says Landon. "There was no going back, there was just no way I could not do it, especially knowing that I was capable of doing it. The idea was fundamentally paired with the strong feeling that it would totally blow people away, absolutely knock their socks off, and it did."

You can watch Wings of Glory in motion, in a video posted on YouTube.

Artist website: Adrian Landon

2 comments
buzzclick
Horses are some of the most fascinating sculptural subjects. Adrian's four-year project is fittingly realized at Burning Man; an amazing venue for creative work. I was a little let down to not see a night time shooting of the flames in the video, but it's slower movements are graceful and weightless.
adrianlandon
Thank you Ben Coxworth for putting together the article. More footage can be seen by searching Adrian Landon or Wings of Glory of google, Youtube and social media.