The idea to build the X-wing starfighter came to Lekiachvili in 2016 as a fun way to teach his kids about science and technology.
He calls himself a “tinkerer” with a passion for space.
“Ever since I was a child, I always wanted to be aerospace engineer, but my parents guided me to go to med school,” 그는 말한다.
The project got started in his garage until the spaceship became too big. Lekiachvili then built a 30-foot extension for his garage, but it wasn’t big enough to fit the fighter’s iconic moveable wings once they were attached. 그래서, he pivoted to the next best thing and built an X-wing hangar in his backyard. (His wife was not thrilled, he says.)
Without any blueprints or instructions, the project required a lot of research — watching scenes of the X-wing and studying screenshots from “Star Wars.” Lekiachvili, 50, did not come across the “스타 워즈” films in the same way most Gen Xers his age did. He grew up in the country of Georgia when it was under Soviet control.
“It was very controlled — what kind of movies were allowed to come in and (~이다) distributed in the Soviet Union,” 그는 말한다. “I guess to prevent so-called ‘Western propaganda.'”
It wasn’t until the late ’80s, when he was a teenager, that he first discovered the “스타 워즈” movies and was immediately hooked — he was especially drawn to the theme of good versus evil, which he says “resonated with us very much so.”
‘Rebellions are built on hope’
After six years of designing, tinkering, soldering, welding and backyard hangar-building, Lekiachvili’s starfighter finally became ready to spread its wings… 말 그대로.
The X-wing replica, about two-thirds the scale of the original, is operated by a wireless remote control that manipulates its wings and cockpit window. It can taxi on the ground at about 4 mph. Its jet thrusters open and close, as well as light up. Inside the cockpit, there are two cameras and a targeting system like the one Luke Skywalker used to destroy the Death Star. It even has its own R2D2 — an inflatable droid for easy removal. The only things it doesn’t do is fly and shoot lasers. But it does feature laser buttons with sounds.
The finishing touches were finally put on the fighter in early 2022, just as Russian forces began to invade Ukraine. Since Lekiachvili and his wife, who is from Poland, both have family in countries neighboring Ukraine, they felt a strong need to help. Instead of keeping his new toy locked up in his hangar, they began pushing it out into the world to try and raise money for Ukraine.
“We roll out the X-wing and people line up. Kids want to sit in and push buttons, take pictures and donate. We’ve been raising very good money,” Lekiachvili says.
지금까지, the X-wing has been raising money for The Ukrainian Congress Committee of America’s Georgia branch during its public showings
. In order to increase donations
, Lekiachvili hopes to tap into the
“스타 워즈” fan base
. He started a 트위터 계정 for the X-wing which he says caught the attention of Mark Hamill
(or Luke Skywalker
, 그 자신). It was also recently displayed at an Atlanta Braves
“스타 워즈” night
Lekiachvili’s ultimate goal, 하나, is to partner with a nonprofit or someone that can help him auction off the unique “스타 워즈” memorabilia with all the money going towards helping out those in Ukraine.
“I can build the X-wing but raising money is not my area of expertise,” 그는 말한다.
He estimates the starfighter cost between $ 50,000 과 $ 100,000 to build, but it was the experience itself that was most valuable to him.
“I probably completed a couple of Jedi training tasks in this process,” 그는 말한다.
Keeping the words of Yoda in mind, “Do or do not. There is no try,” Lekiachvili is using all his newly learned powers for hope.
“I do believe that if we continue pushing, we are going to come up with a right strategy to make an impact,” Lekiachvili says of his efforts to fundraise for Ukraine. “It’s a huge, huge tragedy. Lots of people are suffering and it’s a really good opportunity to help.”