people say they do not have the patience or the steady hands required to
build models. Neither do I. Nearly 10 years passed before I
had the skill to build models that I could be proud of. Even then
my work was only marginally acceptable to me.
I've come a long way since then which is why it frustrates me when people
tell me that they don't have my talent. Talent is not something
I was born with. It has taken over 30 years of hard work to acquire
skills I have now — and I still have a long way to go.
My main interest has always been aviation and modeling
anything having to do with flight - especially R/C and plastic aircraft models.
I also build models of different genres such as
plastic armor and wooden display pieces as the mood strikes me.
Approximately three-fourths of the R/C models I have built were from my plans
or using "make it up as I go along" technology. Many models were built on
commission for local flyers and hobby shops.
have also carved several masters (plugs) for molds. In addition to this are
stick and tissue, rubber-powered free-flight models and dozens of control-line
models. I have no idea how many plastic models I have built, but it is
approximately a lot. My first love is anything that flies - most
specifically R/C aircraft.
In the "other" category, I have built several original static display pieces
such as the wooden train and "big wheel" bicycle shown on this page. I
have also built a small number of kites such as the Wright Flyer. This
kite and many others are kitted by
Squadron Kites. Army movers destroyed mine, but I saw one in the local
hobby shop and I may just treat myself to a new one.
In the beginning, Paul created a puddle of molten plastic. It was
began building plastic models when I was very young - probably age six or seven.
Too much glue was used, no paint at all and there were glue
fingerprints all over the models.
The entire decal
sheet was tossed into a bowl of water to soak until the decals soaked off the backing and
were floating loose in the water. I did not understand why the
fell off my models, but the models were still fun to play with. I began painting my plastic models
around age 9.
Around that same time I began ruining perfectly good
of a variety of types. I built my first
aircraft, model rockets, and plastic car, aircraft and
armor. I also started painting my plastic cowboy and army soldier
My interest in rocketry faded quickly due to the cost of
engines and the long searches for the rockets after they blew down wind.
I did get better at estimating the launch angle, but where I lived there
wasn't a lot of room for error. On one side of the only available lot
I could launch from was a lake. On the other side was a forest.
Neither was a great site for splash down.
The balsa models I built were kitted by Guillow or Comet and available in the local
dime store. I had never even heard of a hobby shop at that point.
The Guillow's kits enticed me by the artwork on the box. Most of these
models were never completed because of my lack of patience and skill.
A lot of kids would have given up, but model-building was something I really
wanted to do. Although my family saw it
as a passing fancy, they continually provided me with new kits as
gifts for various occasions. If they had only known how obsessed I
was to become, they probably would gave given me GI Joes instead. It
was a very happy day for me when I was able to complete one of these models
and fly it.
Borgward IV Ausf B
A year or two later I received a Cox PT-19
control line model
for Christmas. My dad and I spent the better part of Christmas day
freezing our butts off trying to
engine running. Eventually we were successful, but then
I crashed the plane repeatedly because I kept over-controlling it.
After replacing the broken wing several times,
an older kid in the neighborhood happened to see me having troubles with the
model. He flew control-line models and taught me how to fly my PT-19.
He also taught me how to use my wood-burning iron to melt the wings back
together using leftover
sprue from plastic models instead of buying
new wings with every crash.
In the mean time, I was actually starting to make progress with the balsa
kits. I still couldn't build one skillfully enough to fly well, but I
actually completed one or two of them and they did not look bad to me.
In fact, I continued to build Guillow's kits throughout my childhood and I
still build one every once in a while.
By the time I was twelve, I had built a fair number of control line and
free flight models. I have always enjoyed watching my models fly, but I
like having control of them more than just tossing them into the air, so I
was primarily drawn to building control line models. I can not
recall how many I built, but I built kits from a variety of manufacturers
including Sig, Carl Goldberg, Sterling and a few others.
My favorite control line model was a Carl Goldberg Lil Satan
combat aircraft that was wickedly fast
and maneuverable with a Cox Black Widow engine. At this point, I
stopped building plastic kits altogether. I had the attitude that they
were inferior because they couldn't fly. I came back around to plastic
kits with a new respect for them about ten years later and continue to build
I can not recall how old I was when I attempted my first designs for
free flight. Some of
my early designs flew respectably and others were dismal
failures. The successes kept me going. Since those days, I have
continued to design models even when I wasn't able to actively participate
in the hobby or build models due to whatever my current circumstance was.
There have been a few long periods when my modeling was limited to sketching designs because I did not have space to build
(living in Army barracks, for example). I have drawers and notebooks full
of sketches and plans I have drawn.
Eventually I learned about
At age 13 I built my first R/C model, an Airtronics Q-Tee. The kit was
easier to build than any other kit I would built to that point.
Unfortunately, the guy who was supposed to teach me to fly disapproved of my
trainer and kept telling me to get a "real" trainer. I never
learned to fly that plane because it crashed due to dead batteries when my
instructor was flying it.
At the age of fourteen I built a Carl Goldberg Falcon 56. I went all out on this model. It was
silk and dope and then painted red, white and blue using Perfect
or Chevron polyurethane paints. I was really impressed
with my efforts in finishing that plane and wish I had some photos of it.
My dad enjoyed electronics projects and built an Ace R/C
radio for me to put in the Falcon. I do not know what became of that
radio, but it never failed and I wish I still had it for memorabilia.
A man named Dana, who worked at Phil's Hobby Shop in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, was
a great help to me while I was building my Falcon. He guided me
through numerous problems and stumbling blocks I encountered while building
it. He even went so far as to drive to my home to help me on a couple
occasions. Then he would pick me up and take me to the flying field
and give me flight instruction. I
soloed after about two weeks.
I flew that plane every day during the summer until it ended up
one day and I crashed it on top of the school where I was flying. It
was shattered and I was too. By that time I was
hooked though and I have been ever since.
In the mean time, I still build plastic models and other types of models
when the mood strikes me. Although I primarily build R/C aircraft, I
do not call myself an "R/Cer" because that is too limiting. I simply
consider myself to be a model builder.