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Celebrating Jim Walker's 101st Birthday

The day is April 29, 2006 and the celebration is in McMinnville, Oregon under the wings of Howard Hughes' Spruce Goose. The comparison in size of the giant H-4 Hercules to the American Junior models such as the Interceptor and Fireball is great. Just as great is the life of the man we are honoring today.

Not an ordinary man, by any means, but a visionary who helped shape the world of model aviation as we know it. In his short life from 1905 to 1958, Jim Walker packed the energy and drive of several lifetimes.

This special event brings together Jim Walker's three daughters and other family members who share stories of their famous father. The image comes forth of a man full of ideas, an enterprising businessman, a pranskter with a sense of humor, a showman who captivated his young audiences, and a kid who never lost his youthful enthusiasm. We hope you enjoy this glimpse of the days events.

April 29, 2006 at Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinnville, Oregon

Unveiling of the Jim Walker exhibit at Evergren Museum
Jim Walker exhibit at Evergreen Aviation Museum is revealed
Frank Macy and the three daughters of Jim Walker prepare to reveal the new exhibit at the unveiling ceremony.
The parachute drops and the Walker family and the public see the exhibit for the first time.
The Jim Walker and American Junior Aircraft Company exhibit at Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinnville
Clay bust of Jim Walker by Frank Macy
The Jim Walker exhibit designed and built by Katherine Huit and Aaron Warkentin of the Evergreen Aviation Museum. The exhibit will be upgraded on a regular basis as their archived collection rotates new material into the display. Descriptive photo cards give information on Jim Walker and the American Junior Aircraft Company. The clay bust of Jim Walker is a temporary donation from Frank Macy. It is a nearly finished sculpture indended as the model for a bronze to be cast. Sculpted by Frank Macy from photographs and personal memories of Jim, it awaits only additional donations for funding to complete the casting.


The daughters of Jim Walker cut the birthday cake Jim Walker's daughters at the cake cutting ceremony
Cutting the red white and blue birthday cake is Jim Walker's three daughters. From left to right is Valerie Alexander, Marilyn Portwood, and Joan Anderson. The photo on display was Jim's favorite one, taken at the Nationals in 1950 when he won 1st place in Radio Control.

Some of those who appear in the DVD video are pictured below

Laureano Meir speaks at the Jim Walker 101st Birthday event at the Evergreen Aviation Museum Frank Macy has a few words about Jim Walker and preserving the history of American Junior Aircraft Joan Anderson talks about her father Jim Walker at the 101st celebration of his birth
Introduction by Laureano Mier
A-J Historian - Frank Macy
Jim's Daughter - Joan Anderson
Marilyn Portwood tells stories about her father Jim Walker Valerie Alexander is Jim Walker's youngest daughter and she speaks at his 101st birthday celebration Bill Walker is the nephew of Jim Walker and worked at American Junior Aircraft
Jim's Daughter - Marilyn Portwood
Jim's Daughter - Valerie Alexander
Bill Walker
We also want to note that one of the speakers was Ron Anderson, Joan's husband. He was the last President of American Junior Aircraft before it was sold to Pactra.
Early American Junior Aircraft Company model airplanes
A small sample of the models and kits Gil Coughlin brought with him to share on this special day.
Air King and the Pursuit were early American Junior Aircraft Company models designed by Jim Walker
An early 1930's look at American Junior with the steam formed hollow bodied Air King from 1931 and various early Pursuits.
Gil Coughlin holds the radio controlled 74 Fighter built by Tex Newman Gil Coughlin flies his ornithopters at the Jim Walker 101 birthday event
Winner of the Jim Walker prize of an around the world trip as a young man in 1954, Gill Coughlin, still a prolific modeler, is holding Tex Newman's somewhat enlarged "74" Fighter which he equiped with an electric motor and three channel radio control. Tex Newman tells you the story behind the model on the DVD.
On a slightly smaller scale are Gil's ornithopters. Definitely designed for indoor use only and dwarfed by the Spruce Goose. He demonstrates this model on the DVD.
Various American Junior models on display American Junior Target Drone designed by Jim Walker during World War II
An assortment of U-Control planes were on display, including early Fireballs, prototype and experimental Firebaby's, and the very first FireBee that still has Jim Walker's fingerprints on it. The replica of the folding wing Interceptor military launcher is just off camera.
Jim Walker's 14 foot wingspan target drone from the WWII era was also there supporting it's drag chute. Here it is seen under another warbird, the TBM Avenger. (Note: the web developer's father flew this plane in WWII off the aircraft carrier Randolph.)

Valerie Alexander, Bill Walker, Frank Macy, Joan Anderson, Marilyn Portwood all pose in front of the Jim Walker exhibit
Valerie Alexander, Bill Walker, Frank Macy, Joan Anderson, and Marilyn Portwood pose in front of the new Jim Walker exhibit. Fond memories were shared by all.

Marilyn Portwood at the pilot seat of the Spruce Goose Frank Macy and Gil Coughlin hold an American Junior poster designed by Frank Macy
Walker family members were honored with a rare visit to the cockpit of the Spruce Goose. Marilyn Portwood sits in the pilots seat once occupied by Howard Hughes. She seems to be having a good time.
Frank Macy and Gil Coughlin are holding an enlarged version of one of Frank's many art contributions in the style and spirit of original American Junior artwork.


Merle Hoem's Super Firecat a classic Jim Walker U-Control control line plane Merle Hoem holds his Foamy Firecat, a radio controlled plane of his own design
The Super Firecat was there at the flying circle. There were a variety of U-Control (control line) models flying early in the day. The flying stopped at about 2 PM when the weather went from great to bad.
Merle Hoem holds his more recent creation, the "Foamie Firecat." We are sure that Jim Walker would enjoy today's advanced technology. See this model fly on the DVD.

Several Fireball models on display at the Jim Walker 101st birthday event
The event would not be complete without the Fireball, the worlds first production U-Control model plane. Control line, as we know it today, begins it's history here. These are from Frank Macy's personal collection and are all post war versions.


Katherine Huit, Frank Macy and Laureano Mier at the Jim Walker 101st Birthday celebration
The success of the Jim Walker 101st Birthday celebration can be attributed to these three dedicated individuals. Katherine Huit (Director of Collections for Evergreen Air Museum), Frank Macy (A-J Historian), and Laureano Mier (Education Director at Evergreen Aviation Museum). We also wish to thank Katherine Huit and Laureano's assistant Nichole for many of the photos you see on this page.


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