So, what is it that makes someone nuts about model aeroplanes? I think we all ask ourselves once in a while and for me the time has come to try for the first time to it down on paper. I certainly had a few triggers that made me this way, predominately that my father was a pilot so I grew up in close proximity to RAF bases and the best of 1970s Transport Command. He flew Short Belfasts with 53 Squadron, which I can remember as being so big I felt I could actually get lost in one. Before that, the Handley Page Hastings, which had me as a very young child on exotic postings I wish I could remember in Cyprus and Singapore. This rich career took me through DC-10 trips with Laker Airways up to his last active flight on Boeing 767s with Alitalia and some wonderful trips to Rome. It was this background that made me this way.
Modelling came with childhood. In fact in my day I don’t know of a schoolmate who did not make models; it was as endemic then as smart phones are with youngsters today. Buried, but latent memories of the overwhelming excitement of receiving an Airfix B-29 for Christmas one year, I mean this was in the ‘Superkit’ range and I was simply incandescent with joy. I don’t remember building it, I just remember getting it, but it is a core part of my DNA and will live with me for the rest of my life. Many other memories from jealousy of my friend’s hugely impressive ceiling hanging collection to shooting most of mine with an air rifle one summer, these are the things that shaped me and ultimately led me to building the model of my life.
I returned to the fold after the usual hiatus for children and marriage in 2010. Another one of life’s seminal moments when I saw an advert on the back of a magazine for an Airfix 1/24 Mosquito. It stopped me in my tracks, I could not believe something so impressive would be released and it set me thinking about what was stopping me from picking up my tools again. I bought it, and an airbrush and that was it, before I knew it I was back building again. This time was different though, I had always been driven by detail and even my first models had extra parts added or panels opened, but with the Mosquito I wanted to take a very good kit and do more with it. After making some artwork for correcting the instrument faces, I printed them out with a local printer and assembled a new, more accurate version. At the same time, I joined my first forums and shared what I was doing and straight away people were asking for copies. With this reaction, I thought why not make a range for all of the Airfix 1/24 kits so set about costing it, making contacts and researching what turned into quite a lot of artwork. After a few months, I decided to take the risk, now, seven years later my cottage industry called airscale has a range of over 50 products and has sold tens of thousands of decal and photo-etch sets worldwide – something I am very proud of and could not have achieved without the help of my wonderful wife and Commandant in Chief, Lorriane.
Today, I am older, nearly half a century old in fact. I live in Brighton on the UK South Coast and am married with two beautiful daughters, both teenagers now and well versed in dealing with their weird dad’s penchant for all things relating to old aeroplanes. I work for a FTSE Telecoms company looking after introducing new TV services & products to market and dream of spending £1.8m on my own Spitfire XIV, though if I ever got to fly it, I would fly straight and level (permanently) after a pretty unpleasant aerobatic experience in a 1933 Tiger Moth. A tip for you: don’t ever take a pleasure flight and when the pilot asks you what you want to do, say “I don’t care, let’s just get up there and wring her out…”