American Junior Classics

American Junior - Chuck Hein Photo Album

Memories of Jim Walker and American Junior

The following photographs and stories were provided to American Junior Classics by Raymond Hein, the son of Chuck Hein. Chuck Hein worked for American Junior from 1954 till the early 1960s. Here are some rare photos and a glimpse of the modeling world of the past.


Jim Walker flying Fireballs at the Cleveland Hobby Show
Jim Walker prepares to fly two Fireballs at the indoor arena for the 1954 Cleveland Hobby Show. Raymond Hein (far right), the son of Chuck Hein, prepares to release his Fireball. Those lines look awfully short for flying U-Control.

Jim Walker flying Fireball at Cleveland Hobby show in 1954
Jim Walker flying two Fireballs at the Cleveland Hobby Show in 1954
Looks like Jim Walker is doing his famous Sabre Dance at the Cleveland Hobby Show.
Flying two Fireballs in Cleveland. Notice the batteries attached to the base of the U-Reely's for speed control.

Jim Walker flying three Fireball U-Control planes
Jim Walker at one of his outdoor exibitions of flying three Fireballs at once. He has a U-Reely in each hand and the special helmet to control the third plane.

City Is Given Photo History Of Centennial
Feb. 28th, 1954

The following is a newspaper article from Chuck Hein's home town of Fond du Lac.
Chuck Hein was getting ready to work for Jim Walker in Portland, OR.
This story gives some insight into the life of Chuck Hein at this time in his life.

Chuck Hein in Fon du LacC. J. "Charlie" Hein, one of the most active photographers in this area for the last nine years, left Fond du Lac today and will reside in Portland, Oregon, where he has accepted an administrative post with the American Junior Aircraft corporation.

Hein, who did a considerable amount of picture-taking for state and local newspapers and several national magazines, paid a visit to the city hall earlier in the week and presented commissioners with scrapbooks containing the pictorial progress of local construction projects in recent years.

Donates Folder

In addition, Hein also gave the city a complete folder of-pictures of Fond du Lac's Centennial program, including the outstanding parade. All of the photographs have captions which describe the various civic activities.

Hein was active in the community since coming here in 1945 from Arlington Heights, Ill. He was employed at Albert Hauer and Sons for nine years and played a major role in local model airplane and hobby programs. Before coming to this city, Hein was employed in the engineering department of the Chicago and North Western railroad.

Mr. and Mrs. Hein and their son, Raymond, flew to Portland this morning. Hein said there is a possibility the American Junior Aircraft corporation will build a plant in the near future somewhere in the midwest.

'Covered' Marathon

Hein personally covered every major event in the last nine-year history of Fond du Lac. He is also an outboard motorboat enthusiast and did a large amount of photography for the sponsors of a the annual Winnebago marathon. And, when it comes to building and flying model airplanes, Hein is tops in the field.

Hein is a past president of the Fond du Lac Associated Hobby Clubs, Inc., and a former director of the Flying Badgers, a model airplane club he helped to organize. He was also a member of the city's Centennial committee and worked on several other local promotion committees.

Sky Wolves model airplane club
Chuck Hein was involved with the Sky Wolves model airplane club in the early 1940's. Notice the first production control line model, the Fireball, on the table next to the trophy. We have some rare film footage of this club as they transition into U-Control.
Watch the film below.
Hobby Shop photo with Firebaby being shown, Fireball on shelf
Into the mid 1950's we see what a Hobby Shop looked like. A ready-to-fly Firebaby is on counter with assembly sets on the shelf behind. Also notice the late model Fireball on the top shelf. On the far lower right is a box of '74 Fighters.
Fireball on floats
This boy is holding a Fireball on floats.
Fireball sits on the water on floats
Another Fireball looks very graceful and is ready to fly off the water.
Jim Walker at the Nationals in 1941 with the R/C Winner
Jim Walker's radio transmitter at the 1941 Nationals
Jim Walker with his Nationals Radio Winner - 1941
Jim's Radio Transmitter - 1941
Jim Walker with experimental Glider
Jim Walker shows off one of his experimental Sonic Control Gliders.
Jim Walker is on the golf course with his radio control lawnmower
Jim Walker is on the golf course showing off his Radio Controlled Lawnmower. It is noted that Jim would often run his R/C Lawnmower in the Rose Festival Parade in Portland. Johnny Knepper, who built one lawnmower for Jim, said he was able to make the mower turn out of the parade and head for some cute young thing in the crowd, stop a few feet away in front of her and "curtsy or bow" to her, which generally embarassed but delighted the crowd. Jim would do this the whole parade route.
Radio controlled lawnmower by Jim Walker
Chuck Hein photo of Jim Walker relaxing while the Radio Controlled Lawnmower works for him.

Toy Journal story on American Junior Aircraft Company

Jim Walker's daughter Marilyn is tossing a model 47 Fighter
Marilyn Walker, Jim's daughter is tossing a model '74 Fighter at a Hobby Show in Chicago

A-J Aircraft Grew With
Aviation Industry

Story from The Southern & Southwestern Toy Journal

THE AMERICAN Junior Aircraft Company of Portland, Oregon, one of the foremost manufacturers of Ready-To-Fly model aircraft, has been actively engaged in the manufacture of Flying Toys since the early 20's.

Under the leadership of Jim Walker, this firm has produced many, many true-to-flight planes that gave wings to the youth of this country. The names Hornet, Interceptor and "74" Fighter are synonymous with the names of American Junior and Jim Walker. Millions of boys and girls have been indoctrinated to the thrills of model flying with these planes.

American Junior Plant in Portland, Oregon

Two years ago, American Junior outgrew its facilities and was forced to move to larger quarters, where it now has 60,000 sq. ft. of working space.  The block-long, two-story plant is close to the center of Portland's business section and is ideally situated for shipping and distribution of its products. Despite the addition of new equipment and improved production methods, the plant is being taxed to keep abreast of the ever-increasing demand for the A-J line of planes and boats.

    The present line of Ready-To-Fly planes now being produced include:

  1. The "74" Fighter Glider with Return Flight - 10 cents.
  2. The 7-11 Jet Glider - 19 cents
  3. The Ceiling Walker (Helicopter) that flys straight up outdoors - indoors it walks on the ceiling.
  4. The "SuperSonic Jet" Glider - catapult-launched and a high speed glider with controllable ailerons for flight control.
  5. The 39 cent "Firefly" rubber-powered stick model - the newest in the line.
  6. The "Interceptor" - the long-flying, catapult-launched glider with the folding wings that open at peak altitude and soars great distances.
  7. The "Hornet" - the tops in rubber-powered planes.
  8. The "Pursuit" rubber-powered model is the biggest in the line.

U-Control flying was developed and pioneered by American Junior, setting a new trend in powered model flight. With the introduction of the Jim Walker "Fireball" U-Control got its start in the market. Although the Fireball has been discontinued, it has been succeeded by the Jim Walker "Firebaby," Firecat, Bonanza and Firebee planes. The Firebaby was the first Ready-To-Fly U-Control plane available and is still one of the most popular. The Firecat is a prefabricated kit for the larger motors and is an exceptional stunt and combat plane. The Bonanza and Firebee planes are small profile replicas of current aircraft.

With the introduction of the Firebee, the Firecracker .065 engine made its debut, and modelers saw for the first time an engine with a variable speed throttle that permitted controlled speed in flight. Further, this engine, operated at 85 throttle, is so quiet that it can be flown most anywhere.

Miss Thriftway unlimited hydroplane
Ted Jones (left), designer of "Miss Thriftway," and Chuck Hein, sales engineer of A-J Aircraft, compare details of the American Junior model to the full-size hydroplane.

Recently the A. J. line was broadened to include boat kits. The first model to capture the fancy of the modelers was the "Miss Thriftway," a replica of the unlimited hydroplane that has captured the Gold Cup for the past three years.

The 18-inch model is designed for display or use with 1/2-A or small-A class motors. Miss Thriftway sells for $2.95 for boat only and $10.95 for boat and Firecracker engine and $11.50 for the boat and Cub marine engine and hardware.
A marine hardware kit has also been introduced at 98 cents and includes prop, universal, strut, shaft, stuffing box, rudder and rudder brackets for small engines.

Willie Willingham and Chuck Hein show off their American Junior boats - Miss Thriftway and Miss Thriftway Too.

Now in production and ready for shipment is a 24-inch version of the new sensational hydroplane, "Thriftway Too," that features the new cab forward design. The model is precut wood parts, canopy, decals and is suitable for A, B, or C Class engines.

In the photo to the right we see Willie Willingham (left) with his "Miss Thriftway." Chuck Hein poses with the "Miss Thriftway Too." Photo taken around 1957 at the Westmoreland casting pond in Portland, Oregon. This was a popular park where Jim Walker tested his new creations.

Mobile Model Air Show Truck Chuck Hein at American Junior Aircraft Company
American Junior hobby show truck - mid 1950's
Chuck Hein on coffee break
Women workers on break at American Junior plant in Oregon - 1950's
A-J employees enjoying a company Christmas luncheon.
American Junior production line - 1950's
Jim Walker pioneered and patented the heat seal bagging technique for product packaging. This production line photo from the 1950s shows employees using one of these innovative machines. American Junior Aircraft hired women from its earliest days in business.

Another development by Jim Walker was this model car, the Jaguar. These cars were powered in two ways. One version had an electric motor, and the other a gasoline engine. Only about 500 were produced.

American Junior Jaguar cars in the Rose Festival Parade in Portland Oregon

A-J Jaguars driving in the Grand Floral Parade at the Portland Rose Festival, circa 1954.
Click here for a larger photo.

Spike Jones kids pose in the American Junior Jaguar car

The children of famous bandleader Spike Jones posing in a Jaguar.

Chuck Hein in the Success Story live TV broadcast American Junior merges with Pactra in the early 1960's
Chuck Hein is interviewed during a live broadcast from the A-J factory.
Watch the interview below.
This photo was taken upon the completion of the merger of American Junior Aircraft with Pactra in 1963. Left to right: Chuck Hein, sales engineer; Al Davenport, president; Dora Walker, secretary (Jim Walker's wife); Ron Anderson; Bill Walker (Jim Walker's brother).

Chuck Hein with a model Cub
Chuck Hein's wife Dorothy Hein in hobby shop photo
Chuck Hein is holding a model Cub - Looks like an R/C model
Dorothy Hein, Chuck's wife, sells an A-J Firebaby in the Meier & Frank model department. She was a Pacific Northwest champion in building and flying gasoline-powered planes.

Chuck Hein videos from the A-J Classics Film Archives

Chuck Hein on Success Story

Sky Wolves go U-Control

Jim Walker and the Miss Thriftway

Many thanks to Raymond Hein for providing this historic material for us to share.


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Chuck Hein Interview