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Wednesday, August 22, 2012


As a dyed in the wool model airplane builder back in the 1940's, I went to "Lownie's" on South Olden Avenue or to McEwan's "Corner store" on Cedar Lane where my buddy Don Slabicki and I must have bought 20 or more "Comet" ten cent balsa wood "stick model" kits. Most of my generation remember how we used to open that pristine ten cent box, unfold the plans, pin them to a Homasote fiberboard, and carefully lay 1/16" "stringers on the pattern of the fuselage. When we began back when we were very young, the "Testor's" or "LePage'sc airplane glue would run off of the joint we were cementing and overflow on to the paper. The shoddy construction abated as we became more proficient and experienced in this fascinating hobby and perfection became the buzz word. We ended up with balsa wood skeletons of the fuselage, wings, stabilizer and rudder. Then came the "nose block," propeller, and rubber band. Then, very carefully we covered all those balsa wood skeletons with tissue paper, being extremely careful to fit the tissue precisely on each balsa wood stringer, and equally careful to be sure there were no wrinkles in the tissue. God, how I loved to build those old airplanes! Then, it was up to the Glover 3rd story attic, light the stabilizer-rudder assembly glide it into the sky, and voila! Another ME 109 Messerschmitt west down in a scale model flaming crash. Most of the kids today have those plastic models, but for me they will never replace those old "stick" models. As a matter of fact, some years ago, I purchased two old "Guillow's" stick models in mint condition. Some day in the future when I get the opportunity and want to occupy myself with a return to model building, I'll pin the plans to another soft fiber board and go at it again. I have a P-40 Warhawk, and an FW 190 that are just dying to be brought to life. Oh, by the way; I built that Luscombe "Silvaire" back around 1949 or so. Naturally, the object of my affection at the time was that the plane was manufactured up there on Bear Tavern Road in West Trenton. Model building was fun and educational, and it sure beats wasting time with a thousand piece jigsaw puzzle.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

No need to remember, the FAC club still does this kind of flying, though they tend to get much better times, and I don't think very many people throw the models from attics any more. There's a squadron in Philly:

For your entertainment, here's a video which I think captures the appeal of the Flying Aces, plus you get to see Earl Stahl and Vance Gilbert. (I bet you've heard of Earl Stahl, and Vance is a very talented modeller himself, though not prolific with plans.) It also introduces you to the latest (as of 20 years ago) dance craze, the Lippisch Stomp. If the humor is not to your taste, there is still a very nice flight starting at 3:40.