Memphis Belle flies again – in Augmented Reality!

Ethan Ferguson ’18 has designed an augmented reality/virtual reality version of the famous Memphis Belle WWII aircraft. He started working on the design as soon as he was invited to the Memphis Belle 75th anniversary rededication ceremony at the National Museum of the US Air Force in Dayton, Ohio. Ethan was invited to represent Lausanne, along with Laney Surbrook ’18, because of his past experience with the World Wars Club. His IB coursework in Computer Science and History provided the academic background and he taught himself how to make holographic images from plexiglass reflections a couple years ago. Since then, he taught himself 3D printing and helps out with the Virtual Reality Club. He plans to 3D print his model to take to the National Museum exhibit in May of 2018.

He now works part-time for Crosstown as Digital Learning Specialist teaching classes in augmented reality and virtual reality to upcoming high school students – how to code, 3-d modeling, and animation. Ethan also recently made a 3D-printed Memphis Pyramid as a gift for his host family in the Czech Republic, where he will represent our city as part of the Memphis in May exchange.

To develop his design of the Memphis Belle, he looked at a lot of pictures online and at the Lausanne Library picture of the Belle by the upstairs water fountain. His design uses 3DS MAX software, made solid for 3D printing. Ethan added custom textures like the Air Force Star and Memphis Belle logo using Unity. Both programs are free software downloads and Ethan says anyone can get started with these free downloads and YouTube tutorials. He even has his own YouTube channel where he teaches the software he used to make the plane. He said that if he made different components, he could animate the plane as well. He studied aerospace during a summer Duke TIP at the University of Kansas where he learned software to3D model airplane flight through physics simulations. “Based on how I designed it,” he says, “if I put my Memphis Belle in there, I think it would fly!”

See Ethan demonstrate his creation: