The Invisible Made Visible

This journey started in October 2018 when I visited my good friend and fellow Wonder Woman cosplayer in Houston. She showed me a fun edited photo of Wonder Woman’s Invisible Jet captioned “Well Played Air Force, Well Played.” She also showed me a YouTube video of a news clip on the Invisible Jet at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum for April Fool’s Day.  I had never seen these whimsical references before and thought it would be fun to do something similar someday.

Years later, I had an idea to contact the big flight museum (who must not be named) some 60 miles from where I live and ask them if I could donate a few hours of my time standing in full Wonder Woman costume outside their “display” of the invisible jet on April Fool’s Day.  This museum is known for having an Invisible Jet display and a plaque to go with it.  This year, 2023, April Fool’s Day falls on a Saturday, and I could think of no better time.

You can imagine my amazement and disappointment when the initial email and voicemail (sent to the Public Engagement Mgr. of the unnamed museum.) went unanswered.  So, I tried again.  Nothing.  Then I sent the same email to three different departments within the museum.  Departments that could help me with my request.  Nothing.  All in all, I sent seven emails and left two voicemails over two months, that all went unanswered.  I will admit it was difficult not to take this slight personally.  It was like a thorn in my side, and I could not let it go.  I needed some sort of answer.  I thought, what’s to stop me from just showing up in costume?  But if they have some rule against it, that would be a great deal of work for nothing.  So, I called the museum, and after a short conversation, I learned that the Wonder Woman plaque and Invisible Jet “display” was in storage and not on the museum floor.  Behold, there was my answer.  With this information, I could finally let this specific pursuit go.

I still wanted to do something with the theme of the Invisible Jet.  So, I did some brainstorming and reached out to a few people to get the ball rolling on a couple of different possible projects.

The neighboring town of Tumwater has a small airport and a flight museum.  In the many years I’ve lived here, I had never been to the Olympic Flight Museum. So, I went on a Saturday to check it out.  It turned out to be not at all what I was expecting.  First, I was greeted by Rex, the on-duty decent who asked what brought me in today and if I was a piolet.  This made my day!  The museum had more aircraft than I thought it would.  It even had a small section dedicated to women in aviation.  This impressed me to no end.  Rex would chat with me about some of the various aircraft and then float away to chat with other folks.  It was the perfect balance of information and self-discovery.  As I was taking photos of a rather impressive plane, Rex came over and told me about the L-39ZO Albatross jet.  The museum acquired it with a Russian paint job.  When the 2022 war between Russia and Ukraine broke out, the museum repainted it in Ukrainian colors.  This, too, impressed me.

A few weeks after visiting the museum, I emailed them asking if I could be allowed to come in full WW costume and have my photo taken with a few of the museum aircraft.  In addition, I would like a few photos on the runway or taxiway with chock blocks in wheel placement formation, marking where the invisible jet would be.  After a few back-and-forth emails, I had a meeting with Kyle at NW Helicopters.  If I understood this properly, the museum and NWH are all under the same corporate umbrella. Kyle and I spoke in the board room, and we quickly found a lot to talk about.  He asked me if I’d be interested in being a part of their Father’s Day weekend airshow.  We also spoke about a potential event idea focusing on Women in Aviation.  He then took me on a mini tour so that I could scope out potential shot locations.  He was so kind, enthusiastic, and willing to make accommodations.  I was just happy to be there, and it was far more than I expected! 

I recruited seven other cosplayers & friends to roam the Father’s Day Airshow with me.  Kyle and I are constantly communicating regarding the airshow and the proposed Women in Aviation event.  In our meetings, he and I quickly bounce between topics like a fast-paced game of table tennis.  I am thankful for our positive and lighthearted rapport.

If there is enough airplane “parking” at the airshow, we will also try and recreate the “Well played Air Force” photo.  Kyle surprised me and had the sign and also a ladder made.  This is the kind of generosity, initiative, and zest for the project that has been so inspiring and fun to work with.

I do have something special in store for April Fool’s Day.  A good friend has created a comic book-worthy edit of me flying the Invisible Jet, which I will post to my social media accounts.  I, too, took some of the photos from our Invisible Jet photoshoot and did some edits myself.  These are more whimsical.  There is no reference to the jet per se in the finished edit.  It’s just me in a seated position, arms raised as if holding the control wheel, floating in space, or next to Mount Everest or above the ancient Pyramids or in the middle of a sunset.

As the weeks pass, details for each event continue to develop.  I would have never expected the fortune and turn of events along this journey.  From what felt like a defeat and feeling irrelevant to welcoming warmth, like-minded collaboration, and more opportunities than I thought possible.  You know the saying, “Be careful what you wish for . . .”  But in this case, I’m happy I wished for something more.  

“Everyone has oceans to fly if they have the heart to do it.  Is it reckless?  Maybe.  But what do dreams know of boundaries?  – Amelia Earhart

To see all the photographs and edits, visit @amazonofolympia on Facebook or Instagram.

Photo Credits: The Invisible Jet photo with me, was taken my Shanna Paxton Photography and editied by Matt Paynton. “Well Played Airforce” credit unknown. The image below: Matt Paynton took the tiny image of me and I did the edit.

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