Mennonite School Receives a Gift of American Junior Model Planes

American Junior model 74 goes into the classroom
When was the last time you saw so many happy kids with their American Junior model planes? This could be the 1940's but it is actually March of 2014. Thes kids and their teachers have just received a gift of specially made unpainted "74" Fighters that was first produced in 1947. These are very accurate replicas but without the printed artwork. It is up to the students to paint their own designs on their models. This model we are calling the "74" Stunt Glider.

Harold Walters' story behind this photo, a story worth telling

My dad collected every type of airplane imaginable and built and flew them for at least 70 of his 80 years. He died about a month ago and my mother a couple of weeks before him, so I'm faced with cleaning out their house. For the past month I have been finding homes for over 150 unbuilt kits from peanut to 1/4 scale R/C not to mention another 100+ partly built projects. A friend of mine, Irvin Weaver, with 10 children had seen someone flying an R/C helicopter about a year ago and was fascinated by it. When he found out about my dads airplane collection, he asked if he could buy a few planes "for his boys" I thought he meant his older boys, not his 4 and 5 year olds. I brought him a number of Comet and Dumas kits and when I found out it was for the little guys, I told him, "Irvin, you have to use razor blades and glue to put these together and they're rather fragile. This isn't a good idea" He asked if I had any ready-to-fly ones that he could buy from me, I told him I would check through my dad's stuff when next I got there.

74 FighterIn amongst the collection of a lifetime I found 3 of your planes, 2 "74" gliders and one with folding wings and a sling shot. I dropped them off a few days ago and left them with one of Irvin's older boys. On Saturday morning Irvin called me and said that the boys were having a ball with them, but I hadn't left him a bill for them. I said, "Irvin, do you understand the concept of a gift?" He laughed and said, "I think the kids at the school would really like these, do you have about 35 in your dad's collection that I could buy?" I told him that I didn't but if he read me the name on the tail of the plane I would look up the company and see what I could do. It was only after I started looking up the A-J Airplane that I realized that these were the planes that my dad had talked about most of his life, the planes that he had as a kid and the stories he knew about Jim Walker and how much he loved them.

Personal note from Scott Griffith: It was about this time, in December of 2013, that Harold contacted me about the avialability of 35 to 40 "74" Fighters for a local school. I suggested that I make some unpainted versions to save on the cost and allow the students to decorate their own models. I would expect a lot of confusion if all the planes looked alike, how could they keep track of their own model. I made a special offer, well below half of the price of the stock "74" Fighter, and Harold Walters ordered 35 of them. I set about making them, which took a little over a full working day to produce by hand. I test flew several to make sure they were airworthy. Here are a couple of photos of the finished product just prior to shipping on 2/25/2014.

Unpainted "74" Fighters geady to ship to school kids The "74" Fighter, called the Stunt Flyer

The Rest of the Story...

Parents, teachers and Elders prefer little to no publicity or attention drawn to their schools. The schools are unmarked plain buildings and this particular school is in such a quiet area you would never know it's there. Irvin Weaver got permission from the Elders to allow me to visit the school and give each child an airplane and a Jim Walker instruction sheet on how to fly them. They won't allow a story in the local paper. The school is a two room Old Order Mennonite schoolhouse. Grades 1-4 in the first floor room and 5-8 in the lower level room. There are 32 children and 2 teachers.

The Mennonites, like the Amish are Plain People, no TV, no computers, some still travel by horse and buggy but about half the Mennonites use black cars with anything "flashy" painted over. As you can see from the pictures, even the children dress very conservatively, to me they look like they could be in a Norman Rockwell painting. There is an outhouse in back but they do have minimal electrical lighting in the classrooms. The students are all very quiet and respectful and all were very happy with their airplanes, a couple of the boys wanted to fly them in the classroom. I also gave the teachers each an airplane as well and they were as happy as the children. I told them about you and how you make each plane and a where you are located also a bit about Jim Walker. After I took the pictures, the students and teachers sang an acapella bible song for me as a thank you. Your planes are a big hit in Lancaster County Pennsylvania.

Harold Walters can be contacted at this e-mail:

Thanks to Harold Walters for sharing this story doing such a nice thing for the young children in his area. Jim Walker really enjoyed making kids happy with his American Junior planes. Frank Macy and myself were always trying to get back to the kids. After all this is where it all started for most of us, simple planes for a simpler time. When I receive photos of how the kids decorated their planes, I will share them on this web page...Scott Griffith

The unprinted "74" Stunt Gliders are now available in the our store.

Scott Griffith in the 1960's with Jr. Falcon
This story reminded me of my early modeling days. Here I am with my first radio controlled Jr. Falcon. The Pixie Set radio had a button to push for right, left and straight. Simple and a lot of fun. The year was about 1966-67.... Scott Griffith

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