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The Models

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Original model, thin wheels, slab struts, plywood cowling, unfinished wood

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Refined cowling, fat tires, tapered struts, varnished wood

History of the Models

In the fall of 2009 my two grandsons, Logan (then 9), and Sawyer (then 7) came to visit us from their home in Idaho. As was our custom, they wanted to have a “hangar day”, where they would go to the hangar with me for a few hours and build whatever they wanted to from a box of wood scraps.

          On this particular occasion Logan said, “Grandpa, I want a model that looks like your airplane.” I gave him a small piece of 3/4” plywood, and told him, “Now look at my airplane, and draw the shape you want.” Logan had soon drawn a very nicely proportioned fuselage.

          I made up the wings, I-struts, tail, and landing gear legs from scraps of aluminum sheet. The wheels were cut from 1/8” Masonite using a hole saw. Using a larger hole saw, I cut out a set of discs from 1/4” plywood for the engine cowling, and spun a piece of wooden dowel on the lathe to make the spinner.

          We took the model home to show the family, and Logan was so proud of my pride in it that he wouldn't take it home. He wanted it to stay with me. I used it as a tool to help me visualize what I wanted to do in my airshow routine in the real airplane.

          Not long after, we found some wooden spools that were the perfect size and shape to use as engine cowlings, and we found some 1” diameter wooden wheels at a local craft store. I used the new parts to make up a refined model, using heavier gauge aluminum for the wings, the I-struts, landing gear and horizontal tail. I shaped the struts to more closely match those on the real airplane. The wooden fuselage and wheels were finished with a sealer and varnish, giving them a nice satin shine.

          This model became the inspiration for a new idea. Wouldn't it would be fun to give away a model at every airshow we fly! Just walk through the crowd of spectators after my flight, looking for that little boy or girl who had a twinkle in their eyes when they saw the model, and give it to them! And that is what we decided we would do.

          Each model is autographed on the left side of the cockpit, and serial numbered on the bottom-center of the lower wing. Giving away a model is one of the things I look most forward to at each airshow, in the hopes that it may be an inspiration to some young child to pursue whatever dream they may have. It is a token of our appreciation to the fine folks who come for a day of family entertainment, and who support those of us who love to fly and perform for them.

 

          Danny Sorensen