From the Mental Album – Taking to the Sky

I’ve loved aircraft and spacecraft since I can remember.  To this day, I still love going to airshows, or walking through a flight museum.  On our trip to the National Air & Space Museum Extension at Dulles this past July, I could have camped out there for days, reading and looking at everything.

When I was a kid, I decorated my walls with pictures of planes and spacecraft:



I had a LOT more disposable time on my hands in those days, and much of it went to building models of airplanes and spacecraft (mostly the Shuttle).  At my peak I think I had two dozen models assembled and taking up most of my room’s shelf space.

I also built a lot of gliders and other less functional models out of anything I could find around the house – drinking straws became airplane bodies; poster board became wings; toothpicks glued together became structure shapes; masking tape was my friend.  My crowing achievement, though, was the design and construction of my own spacecraft – the TFD-3.


“TFD” stood for “Tuning-Fork Design”, the major structure feature of the craft.  The “3” reflected the two earlier versions of the plane I built, one for use in my home-made window tunnel (also known as the stairwell leading down to the main floor of my house).

I didn’t build out every nook and cranny of the TFD-3, but there were three that I did focus on: the cargo bays, complete with movable robotic arms; the collapsible solar panel arrays, and the cockpit/crew quarters.  I spent a lot of time on the latter especially, building in an ejection/recovery system (the entire cockpit would lift away as a separate pod), controls, sleeping and eating accommodations.

It warms my heart to see Katherine and Lucy enjoying planes too.  They each have several toy planes, love airshows, and got a huge kick out of the Air & Space Museum this summer.  Neither of them have shown any interest in building model planes yet, but perhaps I need to simply show them what you can do with a few boxes of toothpicks, some glue, and some poster board.  The sky’s the limit.