Some of us (not all of us, unfortunately, but some of us) are lucky enough to have a Neighborhood Hobby Shop, and those of us who are extremely lucky have that rarest of rarities, a Really Good Neighborhood Hobby Shop. I must've been living right, because I've been blessed with two of the latter during the past 40 years; one in San Antonio and one in Austin.
The one in San Antonio was a classic Mom and Pop kind of deal, and Mom and Pop were really special people who, among other things, understood their customer base and molded the shop to reflect their customer's interests. They eventually decided to retire and sold the business and, although it still exists and is apparently still thriving, it just ain't the same place. Times change, I guess (remember that guy who said "you can never go home"?), and shops change to reflect the new owner's interests. That's a Good Thing by and large, unless of course the aforementioned new owner's interests don't happen to parallel your own, in which case it can be a Bad Thing.
The shop in Austin was, and still is, a family business, but very much one in change at the moment. I suspect the economy is largely to blame since it's wreaked havoc with discretionary income at almost every level, but other things seem to be changing as well, including the focus of the store. That's not entirely bad either, but it's uncomfortable to us Old Guys, who tend to get spooked when Things Are Different. Change can be Bad when you have a little seniority on life...
So, what's it to you? I've got a thought on that too (I've always got a Thought On That; it's how I am!), but it's not what you might think.
It would be easy to presume that I'm about to complain about the perceived (and it's probably my own perception and nobody else's) change in things at the little shop that resides in Babylon on the Brazos, but that isn't it. It's more primal, and more universal, than that.
Let's cut right to the chase for once, and yes; I know that's not my style. Let's do it anyway, though, and let's talk about all the Mom and Pop hobby shops out there, not only the ones I have or have had a personal stake in. The simple, sad fact is that those nameless people who created our present economic mess managed to nail the lid on a whole lot of small businesses in the process, and among those small businesses have been more than a few Mom and Pop hobby shops. Disaster looms large in the future of a great many small businesses at the moment, and that takes us to the moral of today's story. If you're lucky enough to live near one of the surviving M and P shops, please support them to whatever extent you can. The hobby will be a far lesser place without them, and a really nifty part of our culture will be gone forever. In the end, we'll all lose.
And with that bit of seriously morose journalism behind us, let's move on to something that's a whole lot more fun!
Goin' to School
Everybody who flies had to learn how to do it, which without exception involved some sort of trainer. This country has produced some of the world's best, but a lot of people have forgotten the Ryan STs. Let's try to stir up a little bit of interest in them today!
First, is there anything we can build if we want to model one of these things? The answer to that one is a resounding "Well, sortof." since there have only been a couple of kits of same; an elderly but perfectly usable PT-20 from Hawk and a couple of offerings by the 1/72nd scale Czech folks. My own personal interest lies in that Hawk kit, but I'm hoping the following images will stir your personal interest no matter which scale you happen to prefer.
An Unexpected Curtiss
Everybody knows about the 1920s-1930s Curtiss Hawk pursuit family, and a couple of you are probably even aware of the Curtiss O-1, a series of Hawk-based observation aircraft briefly used by the Army Air Corps during the 1920s, what what about the attack version of the O-1 Falcon? Here's a photo of one for all you Golden Age folks:
How to Have Fun at an Air Show
I know, I know; there's no way to enjoy an air show with all those people hanging around the airplanes cluttering things up, which is why Jim and I always went the day before whenever we could. (It's amazing what press credentials can do for you!) Our next shot was taken during one of those forays:
On a Somewhat More Serious Note
Friend and former co-worker Tom McDonald was a KC-135 co-pilot during the latter stages of the Vietnam fracas, and managed to take a few photos during his operational chores. Here are a couple to illustrate a somewhat more serious side of the F-111:
And While We're at Last Chance
Let's look at a couple of RF-4Cs going through that pre-launch thing.
Finally, a Token Gray Airplane
A while back we ran a couple of shots that Rick Morgan took at the end of Operation Desert Storm. So far we've looked at Tomcats, Intruders, and Prowlers in this series. Now it's time to check out The Mighty Hoover!
And Finally, The Relief Tube
Here's today's installment of corrections, additions, and Stuff That Just Doesn't Fit Anywhere Else:
- First, here's a link to a site Mark Morgan found that gives us an idea of the sort of stuff that used to be at the MASDC facility at Davis Monthan. Watch out, gang; you can get lost in there! http://www.dhc/- www.dhc-2.com/Monthan_Memories. (If it won't load put .html at the end of the string!)
- From Mike McMurtrey, who helped design the recent Squadron UC-78 kit and who's now working on a book about same comes a request regarding a Bobcat that's upposed to be at the Shooting Star Museum in Devine. I'm going to roadster down there when it gets a little bit cooler (South Texas has two seasons---Summer and January), but in the meantime do any of you guys have info on this? Maddog; this sounds like your kind of deal!
- Another question, this time from reader Stacy Baird regarding what may have been an aircraft munition but which is a total mystery to me: In 1970 when I was in Vietnam out of Camp Evans in I-Corps, I saw some rounds lying on the ground that I had never seen before or been able to identify. They had gear teeth as if to spin the round. (They were) maybe one to one and 1/2 inches in length, had a blue tube-like thing that appeared to be made out of aluminum. Does anyone have a picture and knowledge of this item - Probably an Air to ground cannon of some sort. Can anybody help Mark out with this?
- I got an e-mail from an old friend yesterday asking about VMF-113 during their WW2 and Korean days, specifically asking if Navy wings were worn on the squadron's G-2 jackets during those time periods (the ones that werestamped on a piece of fabric along with the pilot's name). A simple view of period photos could explain this one, but I know you guys have more information than just that! What about a tutorial, Navy guys?
- Last time around we ran a couple of Phantom Certificates from Mark Nankivil. He's sent another to round out the set: