How one family is crafting kid-friendly AvGeek adventures at home

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Most commercial aircraft are temporarily grounded, but in one Chicago household a 4-year-old’s flights of imagination are taking off daily from the family’s dining room table.
Oliver Reid-Bleitner, a budding AvGeek, folds and glues elaborate, detailed paper airplanes as part of his stay-at-home routine, which began when Chicago schools and day care centers closed in mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic. Ground support comes from his parents, Dave Bleitner (co-engineer for Oliver’s airplane construction project) and Casey Reid (communications expert). Like many families, they are now both working from home and coming up with ways to entertain and educate their kids while maintaining their work lives.

Sign up for the free daily TPG newsletter for more travel tips!

TPG asked what life was like when normal scheduling grinds to a halt, and rounded up some suggestions for other activities for kids  — all about airports, airplanes and going places when you can’t go anywhere yet.

Casey, director of alumni and advancement communications at a Chicago-area university, says she is becoming an expert air traffic controller for Oliver and his 2-year-old sister Bryce, who adds a little “chaos” to the household hub. Since she has been working from home, Casey says it’s not unusual for airplanes made of Mega Bloks to fly overhead while she works — but Oliver says the congestion at home is not a match for O’Hare yet.
“It’s not a very busy airport,” says Oliver of the irregular flight patterns he generates in the family living room.
Even busy pilots like a little downtime, so he eagerly anticipates the quiet part of his day — his aircraft-ing project with his dad, a hands-on guy who is co-founder of award-winning Off-Color Brewing in Chicago. Although operations are partially shut down because of the pandemic, he still makes beer — and paper airplanes.
Aircraft-ing with dad while grounded at home during the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Casey Reid)
Aircraft-ing with dad while grounded at home during the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Casey Reid)
Oliver and Bryce on a REAL plane. (Photo by Casey Reid)
Oliver and Bryce on a REAL airplane. (Photo by Casey Reid)
When Chicago’s stay-at-home orders were put in place to slow the spread of coronavirus, the Reid-Bleitner family rebooked its day-to-day itinerary.
Dave and Oliver set out to the craft store in search of projects to see the kids through a month or more at home. According to Casey, about $200 later, they were equipped with Kinetic Sand, finger paints, an Easter Egg dyeing kit, tons of craft paper, Lego cars, a Crayola coloring board — and a paper airplane model book, “Planes: A Complete History.”
'Planes' has press-out models and the history of each plane. (Photo by Casey Reid)
‘Planes’ has press-out models and the history of each plane. (Photo by Casey Reid)
“Planes,” which is available at Amazon, Target, Barnes and Noble, Michaels and at the AirMuseumGuide website, is a two-part book with 50 press-out models of historic and contemporary aircraft and a detachable history book with information about aircraft technology.
Oliver, a transportation fanatic, is also fascinated by trains, cars and boats. But his pandemic passion is airplanes. His favorite plane – just like Brian Kelly, The Points Guy himself – is the Airbus A380.

Watch: Flight Review: New Singapore A380 Suite with The Points Guy

Oliver’s own toy collection includes aircraft models with the liveries of Southwest, Jet Blue, Delta and American, as well as Air Force One and a fighter jet. His most recent arrivals are the paper airplanes he crafts every afternoon with his dad. The planes take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour to assemble, according to Dave. After reading about the history of the planes they make, each one is tied to a string to soar on the ceiling of Oliver’s bedroom.

The latest addition to the collection is The Spirit of St. Louis.
The Spirit of St. Louis joins the fleet. (Photo by Casey Reid)
The Spirit of St. Louis joins the fleet. (Photo by Casey Reid)
A busy airspace over Oliver’s bed at all times of the day. (Photo by Casey Reid)
In addition to the paper airplane project, Dave spends his time on other paperwork: applying for small-business loans under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act in anticipation of a post-pandemic reboot. Meanwhile, as the stay-at-home days stack up and the paper airplane models proliferate, Dave has relabeled the brewery’s popular Zwicklebier-style lager “You Can’t Take Me Anywhere Nice” to just “You Can’t Take Me Anywhere.”
Off Color Brewing's label changed to “You Can’t Take Me Anywhere” for this stay-at-home period. (Image courtesy of Off Color Brewing)
Off Color Brewing’s label changed to “You Can’t Take Me Anywhere” for this stay-at-home period. (Image courtesy of Off Color Brewing)

While your family is temporarily grounded, here are some TPG travel- and aviation-themed suggestions for your crew at home:

Books about planes, airports and places to go

Games and puzzles

Don’t forget: You can also check out a virtual tour of the Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C.!

Feature image by Keith Brofsky / Getty Images

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn a $200 statement credit after your first Delta purchase within the first three months. Offer ends 7/28/21.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles after spending $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months and a $200 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
  • Limited Time Offer: Plus, get a 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening, then a variable 15.74%-24.74%. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
  • Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
0% on purchases for 12 months
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.