December History Moments

Week 5 - December 29, 2011: Review and Looking Ahead
A guest post by Dave Mathewson, AMA Executive Director

What a great look back at AMA history the last 51 episodes of AMA and Model Aviation History Moments has been!

Special thanks need to go to Michael Smith, AMA’s National Model Aviation Museum Director, and his staff for compiling the weekly entries. I’ve heard from countless members during the year who wrote to express their appreciation for running the series. Many told me of the memories that were rekindled when reading past events that transgressed not only year to year or decade to decade, but even from one era to the next.

For many of us who are life-long modelers, it was special to take a look back and recall with fondness an earlier time during our modeling careers. For others it was an opportunity to witness how far model aviation and AMA have come in 75 short years.

As we close out 2011 and wind down the yearlong celebration of AMA’s 75th anniversary, it’s time to begin making memories for our next 75 years. I can only imagine what model aviation will be like 75 years from now. If we see only a fraction of the advancements we experienced during our first 75 years, aeromodeing is going to be an exceptional recreational activity potentially enjoyed by millions.

As for AMA, we intend to build on our first 75 years so that we continue to be a vibrant organization that plays a strong role in making our members’ involvement in model aviation all that it can be. That’s been our commitment to you since 1936, and it will continue to be our commitment to you as we look to the future.


Week 4 -  December 22, 2011: Planning for the Museum's Future

Everything becomes history at one point – even the future. The museum staff is actively engaged in the development of a master plan for the future of the museum. 

The beginning of the process:

In 2009, the AMA’s Executive Council (EC) and Headquarters staff worked on the development of a Strategic Long Range Plan (SLRP), a roadmap for the AMA for the next five years. At this point, the museum was not included in the SLRP. You can read the entire SLRP document here.

Per a request of AMA President Dave Mathewson, at the July 2010 Museum Steering Committee meeting the importance of including the museum in the SLRP, updating the museum’s mission statement, and the need for a master plan was discussed. These discussions were affirmed by the Executive Council in August 2010 when the EC passed Motion X: to allocate an initial $10,000 to enable the Museum Steering Committee to begin the Request for Quote process and secure a consultant.

In October 2010, the Museum Steering Committee met and updated the museum’s mission statement and defined strategies and actions similar to those already in the SLRP. These were presented to the EC at its November 2010 meeting, where they were approved by consensus.

After several months of developing contacts, conducting preliminary interviews, and reading through proposals, Robert “Mac” West of Informal Learning Experiences was hired in March 2011. Mac proceeded to talk, interview, and survey a great number of people about the museum and how they saw it, as well as review the museum and its operations. He presented these findings at the October 2011 Executive Council meeting and is currently writing a draft master plan which should be sent to staff for review by the end of the year.



Week 3 - December 15, 2011: Reginald Denny, actor, modeler, designer
Born Reginald Leigh Daymore on November 20, 1891, Denny grew up in England. Working with a stage group, he toured parts of the world in his early 20s. But he was also an avid flier and airplane designer. He was an aviator with the Royal Air Force during WWI, and though he started back into his acting career when the war ended, he also kept up with his airplane passion.

He moved to Hollywood for the film industry, and while there opened a model store, “Reginald Denny’s Hobby Shop.” In the 1930s, his model kit, the Denny Jr., fashioned by his company, Reginald Denny Industries, was a hit. His Dennymite engines were used frequently by modelers. His company also produced Jimmie Allen kits and other kits for kids.

During WWII, his company made RC target drones for the military, called Radioplanes. Norma Jeane Mortenson (Marilyn Monroe) worked on building these planes in the shop, where she was “discovered.”

After the War, Denny moved to England and passed away in 1967. 

  Reginald Denny, c. 1920s

For more information on Mr. Denny, see his biography online at https://www.modelaircraft.org/files/DennyReginald.pdf.

If you would like to submit your own autobiography, or a biography of someone you know, please visit our History Program webpages at http://www.modelaircraft.org/museum/whatshere/history.aspx for more information.


Week 2 - December 8, 2011: Flight Over the Arctic Circle

In May of 1976, while discussing vacation plans, Dave Johnson came up with the idea of flying a radio controlled model airplane across the Arctic Circle. Although she was a bit astonished by the idea, his wife, Gladys was willing to go along. Thus, Dave and Gladys arranged for vacation time, built floats for Dave’s Stafford Comanche model, figured out how to pack their camper around the model, and traveled the 3000 miles from their home in California to Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada. From there they traveled by plane to a small inlet of the Takijuq Lake on the Arctic Circle. After the first attempt resulted in a crash into some nearby bushes immediately after take-off, a second take-off resulted in a flight of several minutes that was entered in the record books as occurring at 66° 30’ latitude 113° 15’ longitude at 2100 GMT on July 12, 1976.

1.    2. 

Picture1 –The Miss Arctic the first model airplane flown over the Arctic Circle. (Source: National Model Aviation Museum, donated by Mr. David Johnson, 2000.82.01.)

Picture 2 – The “Miss Arctic was signed by members of the Yellowknife, Northwest Territories government after the successful flight.  (Source: National Model Aviation Museum, donated by Mr. David Johnson, 2000.82.01.)

3.  The Johnsons drew this poster to mark their flight. (Source: National Model Aviation Museum, donated by Mr. David Johnson, 2000.82.09.)



Week 1 - December 1, 2011: The New Reston Headquarters
The AMA headquarters moved many times through the first 50 years of operation, both in New York City and Washington, D.C. We finally found our own home when we moved from the office building at 815 Fifteenth Street in D.C. (on the same floor as the NAA’s offices) to Reston, Virginia. The land was purchased on December 10, 1982, and a building was designed and built on the location. It was 20 miles west of Washington, D.C., located at 1810 Samuel Morse Drive.

Completion of the structure was mid-February of 1983. Employees reported to work on February 22, 1983. A grand opening celebration was held on September 24th and 25th, 1983.

A list of people who sent in donations for the building appeared in the May 1983 issue Model Aviation magazine issue, available through the online MA archives at http://www.modelaircraft.org/MembersOnly/archive/. (Log into the website at the top right of the page before entering the site.)
 

1. Indoor construction on the new Reston facility, early 1983. Source, NMAM Archives #0001 AMA Collection.

2. Indoor construction on the new Reston facility, early 1983. Source, NMAM Archives #0001 AMA Collection.

3. Indoor construction on the new Reston facility, early 1983. Source, NMAM Archives #0001 AMA Collection.

4. Indoor construction on the new Reston facility, early 1983. Source, NMAM Archives #0001 AMA Collection.

Pics 1-4. Indoor construction on the new Reston facility, early 1983. Source, NMAM Archives #0001 AMA Collection.

5. Outside construction on the new Reston facility, early 1983. Source, NMAM Archives #0001 AMA Collection. 

6. Outside the newly-completed Reston facility, February 1983. Source, NMAM Archives #0001 AMA Collection.

Pic 5. Outside construction on the new Reston facility, early 1983. Source, NMAM Archives #0001 AMA Collection.
Pic 6. Outside the newly-completed Reston facility, February 1983. Source, NMAM Archives #0001 AMA Collection.