Another Way to Fly - CODAworx

Another Way to Fly

Submitted by Tom Philabaum

Client: Tucson International Airport

Location: Tucson, AZ, United States

Completion date: 2008

Artwork budget: $80,000

Project Team


Tom Philabaum

Philabaum Glass Gallery & Studio

Public Art Agent

Tucson International Airport


“Another Way to Fly” in the Tucson International Airport features 30 hand-made glass “Flying Carpets” that soar above the heads of travelers. The carpets are loosely inspired and designed using Hopi and Navajo rug patterns, which are prevalent in the Southwest. Each carpet is 4 feet long by 2 feet wide, with the whole installation nearing 1,000 square feet.


The proposed site was a huge, open area with very high ceilings and intense light spilling in from a two-story wall of windows; it was greatly in need of color and movement. The brightly colored glass sings in the natural light, and the final work appears to be in motion - as if the viewer just caught the flying carpets before they vanished and floated away. To create this movement, the carpets were hung 19 to 22 feet off of the ground, swirling upwards towards the ceiling.


After I designed each carpet, my assistants and I spent weeks laying out and layering individual pieces of hand-cut glass into the intricate designs. These were then carefully fired in a large kiln, fusing the individual glass fragments into one single work. A final step of slumping, where each piece was placed on a large stainless steel mold and once again heated in a kiln, resulted in waves and folds in each one-of-a kind carpet. Dave Perino designed the unique hanging apparatus to sturdily suspend each flying carpet in the large open space.

Additional Information

There is more than one way to fly at the Tucson International Airport!