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Auten’s Can Planes to return to Madison Street Festival

MADISON – A longtime favorite vendor at the Madison Street Festival will be back on Oct. 5 with an entire squadron of airplanes.

Freeman Auten's can plane have working propellers that spin gracefully in the breeze. (CONTRIBUTED)
Freeman Auten’s can plane have working propellers that spin gracefully in the breeze. (CONTRIBUTED)

Freeman Auten’s airplanes are not the types that you see at Huntsville International Airport or with the U.S. Army at Redstone Arsenal. Auten’s Can Planes originate as soda pop cans.

Auten became interested in building these planes in 1999. “I had bought a can plane in Pennsylvania and got interested in building them myself,” he said.

The whimsical replicas resemble the structure of a real plane. Auten uses one whole can for the fuselage. He flares a can’s bottom into a propeller, which spins easily in the breeze.

For the wings, he flattens a strip from a can of Coca-Cola, Sprite, V-8 or any other soft drink. The tail was a three-tiered rudder.

His friends and neighbors donate cola cans for his building materials. “I have to cut the cans in several pieces and assemble them with thick wire and hot glue,” Auten said.

Auten Can Planes are available in various colors. (CONTRIBUTED)
Auten Can Planes are available in various colors. (CONTRIBUTED)

“The can airplanes are definitely a festival favorite. They are loved by both children and adults,” Brenda Parker said. Parker serves as arts and crafts chairperson for the festival.

This year, arts and crafts will be located in the lot directly across from Madison Methodist Church at the corner of Church and Maple streets. “Not just the parking lot but the entire lot. It’s a little over an acre,” Parker said. “I’m excited because this is a great, level grassy area with lots of huge trees.”

Auten has sold his can planes for 13 years at the Madison Street Festival, Madison City Craft Fair and to friends and family. Both retired, he and wife Ruth have lived in Madison since 1991. They moved from Huntsville to live closer to family members.

For more information, visit madisonstreetfestival.org.

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