Gary Dare’s hand-crafted paper model airplanes are Winona’s easter eggs, scattered across the town.
Dare constructs paper model airplanes, some of which take 40 hours to assemble. It might just be a hobby, but Dare has turned it into something more.
With paper, a pair of scissors, a printer and an craft knife, Dare has created model airplanes for several Winona-area businesses. Last year, Dare donated six to eight planes to Winona Health for breast cancer awareness — a cause close to his heart, since his sister is a breast cancer survivor. He also designs some of his planes to match his donations; the planes for this cause were pink.
“It’s something I enjoy doing,” Dare said. “It’s about bringing smiles to faces and to touch hearts.”
Growing up, Dare was enveloped in a world of aviation, fascinated with anything that could fly. His father served in naval aviation during World War II, and Dare followed in his footsteps in Vietnam.
Since he was a kid, Dare has used sticks and tissue to produce objects capable of flight — short as some of the flights may be.
For the past eight to 10 years, Dare has been designing paper model airplanes using computer software and his own imagination. Some of his favorite models are set around his home, such as the Grumman F6F Hellcat, the type of plane his father flew, and his personal favorite, the Piper J-3 Cub.
The pride in Dare’s work can be seen in his attention to detail. The model cockpits are equipped with a dashboard of paper gears and levers and the planes have spinning paper tires and propellers.
Dare said constructing models from paper is part of what makes the hobby enjoyable and approachable for kids and adults alike. His finished products rarely cost more than $8 to produce, he said, as opposed to plastic models.
Dare has donated his works to friends, neighbors and businesses around town; one of his models is grounded in Quinn Holtan’s office at Holtan’s Jewelry.
Dare’s work isn’t limited to planes. He also has a collection he calls his “critters,” including mice, dinosaurs, birds and a dragon. He’s even created model-plane fishing lures — though to date he hasn’t been able to nab a fish using them.
Dare said he’ll continue crafting the paper planes until he can’t any more.
“It’s amazing,” he said. “It’s something out there that’s really cool. Anything is possible with paper.”