Spoilers below – I had been trying to cram this idea into a 15×15 for far too long…bumping it up to 17×17 worked out quite nicely. Enjoy!
- I worked my way roughly east to west during construction – there are a lot more constraints on that side. One failed 15×15 attempt was completely derailed after I got a pretty nice east side, but the other part was completely unfillable. Check out that terrifying NW corner here.
- I also thought about mixing up the “flying” phrases and having some of them be at the beginning (KITEEATINGTREE, e.g.). But, that’d require some shading/circling of squares for the revealer to make sense, and it’s much more elegant without having to resort to those.
- In this puzzle, the only really rough spot was the north. I’m not in love with the 11d/17a crossing for sure…but I think it’s servicable enough as S makes the most sense in that square.
- 1a has somehow never appeared in a NYT puzzle since 1982! The clue is one of my favorites for this puzzle as well.
- 42a, 55a, 70a, 80a, 44d, 57d, and 68d were some other clues that were fun to write.
- At 96 words, it’s about equal to a 75-worder on a regular size puzzle. 45 blocks here, equivalent to 35 blocks on a regular one.