400-watt tweeters on both sides just
behind the cockpit. The combination of
speakers ensures that no matter what
attitude the plane is in, there are always
speakers pointing toward the crowd. “By
placing loudspeakers on the aircraft, I
sought to achieve a consistency of sound
and synchronicity with the aerial performance that’s nearly impossible to achieve
through conventional means,” he said.
The next issue to address was dampening
the engine noise. Elgin built dual mufflers
into a custom belly pan and lined them with
fiberglass to make the engine as quiet as possible. Now he’s looking at ways to eliminate
the noise from the propeller using phase
One thing he worried about is the sound
level in the cockpit. Elgin is essentially sit-
ting inside a speaker cabinet that is able to
produce anywhere from 150 to 200 dBs from
the six speakers. Surprisingly, he said it’s not
very loud: “The first time I flew with the
music I couldn’t hear it.” That was due in
part to not playing the music at full volume.
But even if he had, he wouldn’t hear much.
The Starjammer at night looks like the
Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center, with
red, white, blue, and green lights dotting
the fuselage and wings. “The effect that I
originally wanted was an airplane that
would twinkle in the dark,” Elgin said.
“Kind of like how a bomb burst from a firework gives these little flashes of light.” His
first thought was to use strobe lights when
he realized he could use the same musical
instrument digital interface (MIDI) technology that he uses to control stage lights
for his musical performances.
Just as he did when building his first
violin, Elgin sought out help. Barry Smith,
who owns a prototype company called 3D
Partz, found extremely bright LEDs and
built a MIDI control system to integrate the
lights and the sound that is mounted just
behind the seat. This allows Elgin to control
each LED individually in time with the
music. “I wound up with a system of light
control that incorporates several hundred
1. Elgin’s custom-designed
helmet weighs about half
what a standard military
helmet does, and it
protects his hearing.
2. Elgin synchronizes his
lights and the pace of his
music with a touchscreen
mounted within fingertip
reach of his throttle hand.
3. One of four police siren
speakers that can produce
up to 120 dB of sound.
4. A matrix of high-power
woofers and tweeters
mounted in the
Starjammer’s fuselage and
wing roots ensures the
crowd will not miss a note
of Elgin’s performance.
1. 2. 3. 4.