Life is busy. Between family, a career, graduate school, friendships, and whatever else takes my time and attention, its often difficult to find (nay, make) time for leisure. Like many others, I tend to fill rare moments of freedom with mindless scrolling and frequent consumption of social media. While discovering the latest internet “trend” or keeping tabs with that friend I met once in high school certainly passes the time, I recently came to the conclusion that my proclivity to spend idle time on social media is both unproductive and unfulfilling. It became clear that I needed to prioritize time for healthy, productive leisure in order to maintain my mental health. As someone with a history of anxiety and depression, self care of this nature is critically important. If not social media, however, then… what?
My paternal grandfather, Doug, died seven years before I was born. Since I never got a chance to meet him, I did whatever I could as a young lad to learn about him: asking my dad about him, relishing my grandmother’s stories about their relationship, looking at old pictures… you get the idea. Doug was a US Marine Corps aviator, having flown PBJ’s (the Navy/Marine equivalent of the B-25) in the Pacific Theatre of WWII as a member of VMB-413. My grandmother kept everything related to his service – uniforms, service records, slide shows, and, my personal favorite, his VMB-413 “yearbook.” I distinctly recall spending hours looking through that book as a kid. It contained photos of his friends, the plane he flew, and – best of all – a classic shot of him sipping a cold one with his buddies seated around a table. In many ways, I got to “know” my grandpa through enjoying that book.
Early in 2022, I was visiting my parent’s house and spotted this same yearbook nestled beneath their coffee table. I picked it up and started perusing it for the first time in decades, thumbing through each page with a renewed sense of interest and urgency. Upon seeing a photo of Grandpa and his crew posing in front of their PBJ, it hit me: “Jared, you need to build a model of his aircraft.” This fleeting thought consumed me for the rest of the day, eventually leading me to YouTube where I encountered the likes of Chris Wallace (Model Airplane Maker), Robbie Naufts (Model Airplane Guy), and Will Pattison – world-class WWII aircraft model builders. Seemingly in a matter of hours, I was hooked: a new hobby had been born.
I had loved model building as a kid. My Grandmother (Grandpa’s widow) lived conveniently close to an old store with an unforgettable name: The Wayside Bazaar. Wayside carried a small selection of kits and supplies, just enough to pique the interest of a savvy ten year old who had a knack for convincing his grandmother to fund a model building junket. I distinctly recall sitting at her dining room table with a Revell A-10 kit and a small selection of Testor’s enamel paints, doing my best to cajole the tiny pieces of styrene into position. I enjoyed it for a time but soon moved on to pursuing music, leaving the paints behind to crust in Nana’s closet for years.
Decades later, here I am: back at the bench, attempting to convince tiny pieces of plastic to stay in place. I’m having a ball and, most importantly, I’m taking time for me, investing in a hobby that’s already proven invaluable to my mental health. I’m by no means a good model builder, I’m simply a guy embarking on a journey to learn new skills and scratch the “itch” of a lifelong fascination with aviation. Since I’ve always been a deep-thinker, I’ve decided to launch this blog in an attempt to curate my observations, chronicle my progress, and philosophize as to the “why” of scale model building. This won’t be technical resource as much as it will be a forum to wrestle with ideas embedded in the hobby I’ve recently come to love. So with that, let’s embark on a journey into a fascinating, challenging, life-giving hobby. Welcome to a Scale Modeling Journey: Reflections of a Novice Hobbyist!