Sometimes, your hobby becomes a way to serve others.
The home of Larry and Julianna was flooded in 2019 and the clean-up required considerable effort. While looking through their salvaged belongings Julianna realized that a treasured memento from her late father was missing.
George Warwick was a Navy veteran, test pilot, and engineer for Northrop Aircraft (now Northrop Grumman.) The last project that he worked on before retirement was the B-2 bomber and Northrup presented him with a scale model of the aircraft that he helped to design and fly. The one-of-a-kind model was an exact replica of the aircraft that George flew and was the 2nd B-2 ever built.
The precious model was damaged in the flood and the clean up crew had discarded it thinking it was a ruined toy. Fortunately, Julianna was able to retrieve the model but it was in rough shape. The wings were broken off and warped, paint was wrinkled on the fuselage, and some of the distinctive markings were scratched off. Julianna feared the model would never be the same.
Larry suggested that they seek advice from the local hobby store where he purchased his model railroad supplies, so they headed to Fundemonium. At Fundemonium, owner Steven Elliott, suggested that they speak with members of the local chapter of the International Plastic Modelers’ Society (IPMS) and fortunately the monthly chapter meeting was happening at Fundemonium that same day. Julianna and Larry presented their project at the meeting and two members, Jack Riggar and Greg Reynolds, volunteered to restore the B-2 model.
Jack and Greg are long-time members of the IPMS and have won top awards at national model competitions and they would need every bit of skill they possessed to successfully complete this project. The warped wings had to be straightened and then pinned back onto the fuselage. Filling and sanding the seams where the wings were joined meant that Jack had to custom mix a paint color to match the rest of the model. Greg extensively researched the aircraft to recreate decals of the unique markings, this was a prototype aircraft and the only one in the world with these markings. Greg was able to find the necessary photographic references to recreate these markings.
Jack estimated that he spent over 50 hours rebuilding and painting the model, while Greg spent over 12 hours researching and creating the decals.
The beautiful finished model and the joy that Julianna felt when seeing it proves it was time well spent.
Building scale models as a hobby involves artistic ability, technical skill, and an appreciation of history. Many time modelers will build to preserve a memory or honor a person. At Fundemonium I often hear modelers describe their projects as, “this is the truck my dad drove to work,” “this is the ship I served on,” and “this is the fighter my neighbor piloted in the war.” Sometimes a modeler’s effort rises above preserving a memory and becomes a sincere act of generosity and comfort for another person.
Thank you Jack Riggar and Greg Reynolds.