The solution, from set designer Tom Ryan, was to build the plane as a set of small pieces that the actors would hold together to create the plane, almost like a giant puppet onstage.
The basic plan was that most of the pieces were to be carved out of foam. With the handles and hardware that was required though I had to have something to attach to, which meant I had to sandwich some type of wood between layers.
I used green contact cement to glue all of the foam pieces together and then carved and sanded them to round them out and give them dimension.
I made four of these clouds. They were created by cutting the two foam pieces and then tracing them onto either side of a piece of lauan that I cut to match the overlap. I screwed this piece of lauan to the dowel and then glued the foam back on either side (with a trench carved into one of the foam pieces to accomidate the dowel.
The actor wore the propeller like a shield with his arm passing through two canvas straps.
The pieces came down all four aisles and before most of the audience realized what was happening the actors had assembled all of the pieces the create this fantastic spectacle.