american junior classics and memories of jim walker and his model airplanes


A-J Classics Airmail from
Bill Speck
Mesa, Arizona

Bill Speck remembers American Junior model planes

Bill Speck Grew Up Flying
American Junior Model Planes

The Jim Walker Ceiling WalkerAmerican Junior products have been a significant influence in my life. As a youngster the "74" glider was flown again and again, modified, rebuilt, flown some more. I had a twin mustang (F-82) version and even a P-38 Lightning. They all flew, some better than others - but they all flew.

The "big event" in those days was when I could save up 50 cents (two weeks allowance) and purchase an A-J Hornet. Now THAT was a first class flying machine. I'll bet I must have owned at least 30 or 40 Hornets in my younger days. Why so many? Because it was a terrific flyer and could easily be lost out of sight in a good thermal. What a thrill to see your plane fly so high and so far that you could no longer see it: mixed emotions......pride and loss......The A-J Hornet firmly secured my interest on all things of the aeronautical nature. I flew them as a kid; I flew them as a college man; I flew them as an adult aero-engineer; I still fly them as a retiree, but that's life - the good things stick with you........

Another well-remembered A-J flyer was the Ceiling Walker. When I could afford one, it was GREAT. I remember being on vacation with my parents at Yellowstone National Park. Old Faithful was OK, but I was all caught up in a Ceiling Walker. My father was not pleased! He did however, help me retrieve it from a friendly tree.

404 InterceptorA few years later, when I was old enough to mow lawns, I discovered the A. J. Interceptor. What a flyer! With those really slick folding wings it could reach new and un-explored altitudes (or so it seemed)— I still have friends that I made because of the Interceptor. It was a great attention-getter. That wing-fold concept was and still is absolutely brilliant and nearly fool-proof. I still have a couple Interceptors in my "memory box" along with some other goodies like some original Firebaby parts.

I learned to fly U-control with a Firebaby. One of the greatest U/C planes designed! I'll bet there were more model flyers started via the Firebaby than ANY other plane, it was one of the BEST EVER!! American Junior has been a significant part of my aeronautical life. I spent over 40 years in the industry and recently retired, I owe some part of it to A. J. —THANKS!!

Bill Speck
September 9, 2006

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