In plane site

Don’t be fooled, a plane has not crashed into the streets of Philadelphia. This is a piece of street art. But look inside and you’ll see there’s more to it.

Written by Michael Turtle

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle. A journalist for more than 20 years, he's been travelling the world since 2011.

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle and has been travelling full time for a decade.


Philadelphia street art

There’s something cool about street art at the best of times, but especially when you’re a tourist. There’s something about the installations in public areas that says a lot about a city.

The artwork represents the thoughts of the inspired, using symbols to tell the true tale of the place. And it’s telling what a city allows to be installed!

One work in particular caught my attention when I was in Philadelphia. It’s hard for a huge fighter jet crashed into the pavement not to catch your attention!

Philadelphia plane street art, USA

I walked around it, surveying it from every direction. I looked inside the windows and was surprised by what I saw.

I touched it and felt the cold metal on my palms. I made a mental note to find out more about it.

I’m glad I did.

It turns out the work was made by a young local artist called Jordan Griska. He had bought the shell of the Grumman S2F plane on ebay and had it shipped to Philadelphia.

In his workshop he fixed the damaged parts, adding fresh metal to some of the top and the landing gear door.

Then, after fixing it up, he began to damage the plane again, crumpling parts of it to appear as though it had crashed into the ground.

Philadelphia plane street art, USA

Plane street art

It sounds impressive enough but, as they say, it’s what’s inside that counts. And inside the plane, Griska put the true meaning of his art.

Looking through the windows, you can see a little greenhouse inside. Heat lights, a watering system, and exposure to the sun create the perfect environment for plants he’s put in the plane to grow.

Much of what is grown in the greenhouse of the fighter jet is edible. And everything is given to local Philadelphia projects that help to feed the poor and homeless.

The artwork gives back to the community.

Philadelphia plane street art, USA

Veterans groups were apparently worried when they first heard about the project, fearing it would be insensitive but they’ve now embraced the idea.

For his part, Griska says the point was to demonstrate that an object could have a life beyond its initial aim, especially when it was originally built for war.

Philadelphia plane street art, USA

“These repurposed finished pieces simultaneously lead the viewer to contemplate the history of ‘the thing’ while changing the function of the object,” he’s quoted as saying.

“My generation—what do we do with all these parts of post-war conflict? What is our role in that?”

The street art of a city has the power to show the true humanity of its citizens. From the pain of war, compassion can grow.

34 thoughts on “In plane site”

  1. That’s probably the coolest street art I have ever seen. So glad you took the time to find out more about it. When I first saw the pictures I immediately thought of 9/11 and thought it might be insensitive but I guess everyone is happy with it now. Brilliant project.

  2. Very cool street art.. def not what you’d expect to see walking around in Philly! Neat story about the origin of the plane coming from ebay as well.. and you did a great job on the photos, love them!

  3. I’m a massive fan of street art, but this is probably the most novel installation I’ve ever seen involving a plane. “Planehenge” in the Australian outback was pretty out there.. but this one seems to have purpose beyond quirky. And that is a good thing!

  4. Love this. Love the artist’s dedication to his idea, and how amazing he translated it into this piece. This is why street art is so important – you’re just walking along, texting, thinking about some issue that’s bugging you and BAM, now you’re experiencing art. Great post!

  5. WHOA, that is not what expected when I started reading the post. So cool! I saw another post today where somebody had cut holes in dozens of plastic soda bottles turned sideways and created an herb garden out of them. So ingenious, and the fact that it goes to feed people who need it is awesome. Wish Atlanta had a project like this!

    • I don’t imagine it actually grows heaps of food, but it’s nice that what it does grow helps the homeless. Perhaps cities should considering creating and expanding projects like this – it a really sustainable way of using ‘trash’.

  6. As mentioned several times that is pretty cool. Not just to have the idea of art, but to find a way to grow stuff in it.

    Though I think it would be hard on me to spend time and energy fixing up a plane, just to destroy it again.

  7. Well that’s definitely different. It’s not plain that’s for sure. I have to admit that I am not the most creative person in the world so I would never come up with something like this. A plane crashing into a sidewalk. And then add a greenhouse? Quite remarkable!

  8. Funny, I’m sitting in the airport right no in Philadelphia. Only in transit though so I can’t go and see this amazing art. But I’m with it in spirit since I’m going on a plane:)

  9. Although it is a cool ldea the fact that it is painted to look like an California dept of forestry fire bomber complete with tail number is very offensive to the families and pilots who have lost loved ones in tragic accidents fighting wildland fires the artist should remove all markings and just leave it bare metal if he wants to call this art

  10. Having flown this type of aircraft with these numbers as a CAL FIRE air tanker, I find it (to me) totally insensitive to the pilots that have perished trying to protect the public from the devastating and deadly Wild Fires that ravage the United States every year.


Leave a comment