Swissair Flight 111 Memorial

Remembering the tragic crash off the coast of Nova Scotia

The tragic crash of Swissair Flight 111 in 1997 was one of the worst air disasters in history that happened off the coast of Nova Scotia, the province in which I live. I invite you to do an internet search if you wish to read the entire story.

This was built for a model club contest with Halifax Nova Scotia as the topic of the club contest theme and I chose this subject as the entry for that contest as it was pretty close to home. The aircraft was diverted to Halifax just before it crashed due to a cabin fire.

The kit I used was a 1/200th scale MD-11 (A variant of the infamous DC-10) kit that I decided to light up fully to represent the aircraft just before the crash took place on that fateful night.

I used a series of LEDs strategically placed to represent all the navigation lights as well as the cabin and cockpit lights to illustrate what the airliner would have looked like just before the accident happened.

The photos below should pretty much speak for themselves. But some commentary is added anyway.

A stand was made to house the battery power supply for the whole model. A flasher circuit (right) was used to make the blinking lights flash in unison on a separate circuit.
One half of the fuselage shows the wiring and how it plugs into the stand. Lighting was deliberately obfuscated to give the impression of sporadic lighting throughout the passenger cabin suggesting that not all sections were lit evenly depending on passenger behaviour. Some windows were blocked off to suggest shut or partially shut blinds. The coloured wires conveniently help to give the impression of varied colours reflected throughout the cabin.
The MD-11 used different engines depending on the variant. This particular kit came with the incorrect engine nozzles that were used on the specific aircraft, so I had to machine new ones from aluminum stock to match the ones on this specific aircraft. The incorrect plastic ones included in the kit are shown alongside.
The model begins to come together with sections being painted. Slight weathering was used on the pure white fuselage halves to impart a sense of realism by breaking up the surface, suggesting panels of sheet aluminum and the slight imperfections seen on all airliners. The decals were made completely from scratch in Photoshop using research gleaned from the original airliner and printed on a bubblejet printer onto waterslide decal film.

The following photos show the model as depicted in the real aircraft’s final hours of flight on what could have been a moonlit night.