PHOENIX (KSAZ) - For many people, passenger jets are not much more than an easy way to get from Point A to Point B, a necessary hassle to put up with, to get where we need to go.
For others, however, they represent much more than that.
"The theme of aviation has been in my life since I was a kid," said Lance Lockhart. His day job is a captain for Southwest Airlines. When he's not in the cockpit of a Boeing 737, however, one can find Lockhart in his Mesa workshop, making art out of airliners.
"I do my job, but my art is all by faith," said Lockhart. "I have no set income. It's an inspiration."
For Lockhart, it all started with simple idea: using scrap aircraft sheet metal he purchased at plane boneyards around the state to make keychains and luggage tags.
"My imagination just kind of takes over," said Lockhart. "I started just cutting little sections of southwest fuselage, and sold them for $10 apiece."
That was in 2015. Since then, Lockhart's side business, called "Wyldebyrd Art" has really taken off. No pun intended.
"I've sent things to Japan, Russia, South America, Australia, Canada, all through Europe, Germany," said Lockhart. "It amazes me."
What started small has now gone "Jumbo". Literally. Lockhart has turned a section of a Boeing 747 into unique pieces of art. His workshop is filled with pieces of airliner history, as well as one-of-a kind items for aviation enthusiasts, also known as "AvGeeks" on social media.
For Jordan Levine, who is an AvGeek, he found Lockhart's artwork on Instagram, and knew right away he had found the perfect accent piece for his wall.
"I just can't even imagine all the people who have looked on the other side of the window, and now I'm kinda looking in," said Levine. "It's pretty cool."
Levine also purchased a beverage cart ro complete the aviation theme.
"I've only had it a couple weeks, but I will say this: everyone that has seen it, wants one," said Levine.
Thanks to The Wyldebyrd Art Instagram and Etsy accounts, Lockhart recently got noticed by a Hollywood set designer, who purchased beverage carts and other items that were featured in an episode of the show 9-1-1, which is broadcast on FOX.
Lockhart was on a break between flights in Las Vegas when he saw the promo for the show.
"I was sitting in the lounge in Vegas, and I was on work but I had some ground time, watching the football game and I'm sitting next to some guy and I was like, 'that's my stuff!'" said Lockhart. "Because this is not necessarily what I do, but it was my own spike the football moment."While Lockhart's hobby has now turned into a successful business, he said the idea behind it hasn't changed: to give these retired planes, as well as the stories behind them, a second life.
"It's kind of a great legacy, to be connected to other people's legacies," said Lockhart. "It's something that's very rewarding for me."
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