Hapkido Online

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Aviation: Where Have the Models Gone?

I was in the Wal-Mart the other day and noticed that they weren't carrying plastic models anymore.  They used to carry model cars and planes mostly from the Testors company.  I spoke with the manager about it and he said kids just aren't interested in that stuff anymore.  This made me feel sad and angry.  Frankly I blame video games.  Most kids just don't have the attention span anymore to sit and build a plastic model.

Folks this has major ramifications for flying!  I was always told growing up, and I believe, that if you can build a model plane you can build a real plane.  It is just a series of small steps that if done properly results in a plane. 
Author some 30 years ago building a B-52.  Don't tell mom and dad about the paint on the carpet.

Building planes and flying planes have much in common.  Every aircraft has a checklist usually pre-flight and on the taxiway.  The checklist is just a series of small steps that if done properly usually results in a safe flight.

Children with no attention span may end up as adults with no attention span.  Adults with no attention span are incapable of flying.  Dear reader if you have a child I urge you strongly to turn off the T.V. and the game console.  Take the cell phone from their chubby little fingers.  Put the I-Pad away.  Buy a plastic model and some glue and paint and spend an hour or two a week building it with your child.

Ben Charvet and his Son with Pietenpol Model, photo used with permission.

Some of my fondest memories are me and my dad building model planes.  First plastic, then rubber powered balsa wood planes like the SIG cub.  We steadily worked our way up to R/C sailplanes and eventually powered R/C planes.  Ultimately I would help dad restore an antique Stinson Voyager.  My love of flight began in small craft of paper and balsa making lazy circles around the yard.
Author way back when with his award winning SIG Cub

Nowadays most R/C planes come packaged completely built, you just charge them up and go flying.  I admit this is fun.  But we are creating little by little an instant gratification culture.  The new generation wants it all and they want it now.  Furthermore they feel entitled to it.

I had a neighbor a couple of years ago say hi to me while I was replacing the water pump on my wife's Dodge Durango.  He was probably a good ten years younger than me.  I had a Haynes manual for the vehicle and was following it step by step, just like a model.  He told me he would never try something like that!  He asked where I learned to work on cars.  I told him well my Dad and my Grandfather taught me most of it but the rest I just learn in the car's maintenance manual.  It seemed such a mystery to him that I was shocked. 

They all will be this way eventually if we don't do something about it.  It's up to you.