t all began about a decade ago. Exactly like the entire hobby industry, Al's Hobby Shop was going gangbusters. Cindy wanted to cash in on the latest — at the time — rage and that was internet sales. To create room for orders to be packaged and shipped, a space was needed, and the way to get the necessary space was to clean up a section of the store's basement.
During the process Cindy tripped over one of the last airplanes her father assembled. The airplane had suffered quite a bit of hanger rash over the years and I was told to take it home and put it in a safe location. Doing as I was told, the airplane was stuffed in the rafters. It wasn't my airplane, and frankly I really didn't have much interest in the thing.
Fast forward 10 years. We had recently placed our house on the market and Cindy was looking to see if anything else could be sold to help clean out the dungeon. Looking up at Al's old airplane, she told me simply, "Take it to the next swap and whatever it takes, don't bring it home." Unfortunately there wasn’t much interest in the airplane, but it wasn't going in the dumpster either.
Based on Cindy's recollection, and the style of construction, along with the materials used, we estimate the airplane to have been built sometime in the mid 1970s. That said, the airplane had never been flown, let alone the motor started, and the old O.S. was frozen solid. The long outdated receiver and servos had to be replaced. The motor was fiddled with a little each day, and about a week after the project was begun the airplane was put into the air for the first time.
What a blast of an airplane to fly. Dealers and modelers alike have been so wrapped up in electric propulsion these past few years I'll admit to forgetting how messy glow fuel (and exhaust) is, but I've had a ball with the airplane. Glow requires something that's been missing in my enjoyment of the hobby, and that's tinkering with something mechanical. Oh! and the smell, I'm not about to mock Robert Duvall and his award winning performance in the 1979 movie classic Apocalypse Now, but there is something about the smell of burnt glow fuel in the morning.
In many instances a dealer will receive an airplane from a family member. Oftentimes the family has no idea of the actual cash value, but at the same time they are unable, usually for emotional reasons, to toss the old stuff in the garbage. In almost every instance, when it came to this sort of thing at Al's Hobby Shop, the airplane would sit around until somebody had the time to strip it of anything of value and the rest, like the old outdated equipment I pulled out of Al's airplane, was earmarked for disposal.
Maybe this isn't the best course of action for a store to take. I'm by no means a trendsetter, and to get a couple of replacement propellers required me to place a special order through a hobby store; glow just isn't being flown much anymore. But, and this is the point, the old phrase, “They don't make 'em like they used to,” is very applicable in this instance and like I said, flying Al's old airplane has been an absolute blast.
Instead of stripping these models and throwing what's left away, maybe hobby dealers should spend that same amount of time cleaning the beat-up airframes and restoring the look back to top condition. Even if you pass the airplane along to the next guy, the person will need to purchase updated, more modern equipment, and that means cash flowing through the register, something every dealer is rather fond of. HM
Until next month,