In the Georgian city of Rustavi, an old but fully functional Yakovlev Yak-42 aeroplane has been transformed into a kindergarten classroom. Head teacher Gari Chapidze bought the plane from Georgian Airways and arranged for it to be transported to the city of Rustavi, where he refurbished the interiors with educational equipment, games and toys but left the cockpit instruments intact so they could be used as play tools. There are around 1,500 buttons in the small Soviet-era plane’s cockpit which the kindergarten’s 15 children can play with as they imitate real pilots taking off.
The refurbishment took several months and Mr Chapidze says he was concerned at first that people would not take to the idea, but the unique playpen has become a hit with the parents too.
The staff hope that in addition to being a fun place full of knobs to turn and buttons to push, playing on the aircraft will help children develop technically.
“The idea was to create a kindergarten where children go with joy,” Chapidze, the rector of the Institute of Georgian-Ukrainian Social Relations that runs the kindergarten, said. “Sometimes kids have difficulties in adapting to kindergarten, to a new environment. We decided to help them by making it fun,” he added.