My passion for aviation started by playing with free-flight balsa gliders. This led to RC gliders, a love for all things aviation-related, and eventually over 3,000 hours in the P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft. If you’re looking to spark that same love of aviation in your kids, Whistle Pig toys is a way to sneak in some education under the guise of having fun.
Whistle Pig Toys has several small, free-flight models available that, unbeknownst to a youngster, have the potential to teach many skills they will need later in modeling: building flat and straight, how not to glue yourself to your project, proper CG balance, and even some rudimentary flight trimming and aerodynamics. I was sent their $7.50 Model FF7, a P-40 that looks like a real airplane (they also have a Ki-43 Oscar). I was astounded at the extremely fine laser-cutting. You can barely fit the sharp end of a modeling blade between the tree and the parts! With the precision cutting, everything fit where the instructions showed. I used thin Zap CA to assemble the diminutive P-40 along with a hobby knife and a small emery board that I “borrowed” from my fiancé’s stash.
I pictured just punching out the parts and gluing it together, but success comes from both patience and following directions. I’m glad I did as there are a few steps that I had to read a few times to ensure I was doing what I should with the delicate parts. The P-40 went together in about 20 minutes, but of course the joy will come when I get to spend a couple of hours with my grandson Nolan putting one together and flying it in the backyard. You can use colored markers if you want to “paint” your P-40 in a camouflage or fantasy scheme. I’m saving this task for Nolan when he gets back to town. Want to get the kids away from the TVs and smart phones? Give a couple of these a try!
Click here for Whistle Pig’s blog post on how to build a home-made gadget for balancing the FF-7.
TEXT & PHOTOS BY ANDREW GRIFFITH