'Pennies from Heaven' – Falls Church, Virginia - Atlas Obscura

'Pennies from Heaven'

A whopping 14,000 copper coins cover this miniature fighter jet. 


Parked indefinitely between two Falls Church City office buildings is perhaps the only plane in the Washington, D.C. area that you can access without waiting in dreadfully long airport security lines. This plane, a statue created in early 2008 by artist Courtney S. Hengerer of Alexandria, Virginia, stands more than six feet tall and is covered entirely in pennies—14,000 of them, to be exact. Hengerer titled her work, which resembles a fighter jet, “Pennies from Heaven.” 

According to a 2018 Washington Post article, this plane-shaped art was originally designed as part of a “statue event” campaign of the nearby Crystal City Business Improvement District. To commemorate Crystal City’s connection to flight (being located near Reagan National Airport and home to offices of several aerospace corporations), 50 artistic works representing planes, including “Pennies from Heaven,” were commissioned in early 2008.

When the Crystal Flight campaign ended, the plane statues were sold and BB&T bank obtained the distinctive “Pennies from Heaven” work of art. BB&T later relocated its offices to the Falls Church Corporate Center, and the penny plane took flight to its present location. 

The plane itself is in great shape, though after a decade is understandably missing a few pennies. If you look closely, you will see that the pennies covering most of the plane are glued with Lincoln’s head showing, but those on the rear stabilizers—the tail end of the plane—are tails up.

If you’re up for a challenge, try to find the six United Kingdom pennies intermixed among the Lincoln cents, sporting three different images of Queen Elizabeth II. Another challenge, not for the impatient, is to find the oldest penny on the statue.

Know Before You Go

The plane is located between two tall office buildings, one of which is the BB&T building. The parking on site is marked as private, so it is best to park at the New Grand Mart international grocery store next door. The plane is in the open area between the buildings and is very easy to spot.

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