Solar sculpture lands at TIA

The “Spirit of Southern Arizona,” a solar sculpture that commemorates Arizona’s aviation past and pays tribute to its future, has been unveiled at Tucson International Airport (TIA).

The 18-foot-high commemoration of Arizona’s Centennial includes six circular medallions around the base, representing southern Arizona’s past and present through images such as Tucson’s first airplane flight in 1910, a Tohono O’odham woman harvesting saguaro fruit and the University of Arizona’s radio telescope at Kitt Peak. Taking off from this cultural foundation is a futuristic airplane that leaves a sparkling contrail behind as it climbs into Arizona’s sky en route to the next 100 years of progress.

Underlying the theme throughout is the history of aviation in southern Arizona and the importance of solar energy to the future, airport officials note. Photovoltaic solar panel collectors power numerous light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that deliver a constantly changing display of colored lights and patterns at night.

“This is a proud occasion for TAA. We wanted to add a distinctive work to the airport’s permanent collection to mark the Arizona Centennial and acknowledge the growing importance of solar energy in our region. The ‘Spirit of Southern Arizona’ is a beautiful way to do both,” said airport authority President/CEO Bonnie Allin.

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