The Jim Walker FireWire Newsletter from American Junior Classics
Wings for Young America
July 2006 - Newsletter #7

Welcome to the American Junior Classics FireWire Newsletter. This is our seventh issue and things are picking up. We are ready to sell Firebaby parts to repair your classic Firebabys. The new Firebaby 2000 is almost ready to go. Frank Macy is working on research and development of new products as well as the classic designs.

In keeping with Jim Walker's vision we are reaching out to today's youth. Thanks to Jim Walker, we all enjoyed the discovery of flight when we were kids. It is up to us all to spread the joy again. Even though technology seems to be taking over everywhere, kids still take pleasure in holding a balsa glider in their hands and sending it up to perform wonders. You will be hearing more from us as we reach out to spread the joy of flight. In the meantime, grab your grandchild or neighborhood kid and show them what it is like to experience the wonders of flying.

A-J Kids

The A-J Kids in FloridaSchool is out for the Summer and Chuck Feldman has something for the kids to do in his home state of Florida. Here are his A-J Kids and thay are learning to fly U-Control model planes. These are all Chuck's models but the Firebaby, that Cody is holding, is the one they will all start flying as their first trainer. Who could think of a better model to start with? The next paragraph is directly from Chuck in an e-mail to Frank Macy.

"Well things are like that tide, it comes and goes. The kids come around and the weather is bad. The weather gets good and they are out fishing. Fishing is very big here. Will not to go on about it. However, Ian and his brother Cody stopped in and it was a good time to go fly the Firebaby. So we went off to the park to fly. The plane was ready and I decided to let Ian try a solo flight. Well he took of leveled it off and flew it for at least 12 laps. The wind was a little strong and he lost it and crashed. Cody, standing right beside me said, " He crashed it now I can't fly it." I had to laugh. But the truth is Ian did really good and will fly the baby again. So will Cody. The plane is repaired now and is ready to go again. The A-J Kids will be back and I'll write to you then."

The A-J Kids in the photo are (bottom left) Cody, age 9, (bottom right) Ian, age 10, (top left) Morgan, age 9, (top right) Mitchell, age 14. All the kids have flown the Firebaby on the first hoop (duel instruction); they did well. Next time out will be Ian's second attempt to complete a flight by landing. Hopefully he will and the next A-J Kid is up.

We will be getting updates from Chuck and will pass on the progress of these A-J Kids. As always, we appreciate these stories from you and especially the ones that show kids discovering the fun just as we did at their age. Keep the pictures and stories coming!

(Just a note here: The Huricane Katrina that devistated the Gulf region, forced these kids to move out of their Florida home. We will not have any more stories about them)


Folding Wing Rockets?

Folding wing rocketsChris Erler and his Sewickley Academy's sixth grade Earth Science class has come up with some unique new ways to use the American Junior Classics new folding wing mechanism. The rocket engines are 2 litre plastic pop bottles that are partially filled with water and then pressurized with air. When fired, the air pressure forces the water out at high velocity producing the thrust for the rocket.

Here we see Logan, one of the students, holding one of their new designs. Although still in the developmental stages, it is great to see the ideas that our creative young students are coming up with. American Junior Classics sends our whole-hearted support and admiration. Keep up the great work, and keep sending in those photos!

If this has peeked your interest and you want more information, you can contact Chris Erler at: Sewickley Academy 315 Academy Avenue Sewickley, PA 15143 Sixth grade Earth Science


New Life for Original Firebaby Wing Former

Original Jim Walket Firebaby wing formerThe year is 2005 and this Jim Walker original Firebaby wing former is ready to make new wings after a retirement of 40 years. This is wing former is marked #5 and was made in 1949 - 1950 for the original Amarican Junior Firebaby kits that were produced in Portland, Oregon. The wing former went to Pactra when A-J was sold to them in the early 1960's and then ended up in Idaho at the Sturdi-Built factory. This is where it remained until being acquired by A-J Classics early in 2005.

We are documenting the restoration of this historic piece of equipment and will post a movie on our website of the very first wing to be formed in four decades. Keep an eye open for our Firebaby parts and the new Firebaby 2005 model from A-J Classics.

Visit our Firebaby page for early history

Why Is Jim Smiling?

Jim Walker in the early 1950'sHow well do you know your American Junior history? In our last Newsletter we asked why Jim Walker was smiling in this photograph. Nobody could give us the answer but Frank Macy has the information we have been waiting for.

The year is 1951 and Jim has just won First Place in Radio Control competition at the Nationals. This is one of Jim's favorite photos and shows that great Walker smile. This was one of many First Place R/C awards that he won over the years.

Jim Walker was involved in radio control from the earliest of times. He produced radio controlled target drones for the US Military during World War II. Forever the visionary and inventor, Jim Walker was always looking for ways to lead this hobby into the future.


Fireball Recollections by Dale Jordan

Jim Walker FireballThe year was 1948 and I had scraped together enough money from my Seattle Star Newspaper work to purchase a Jim Walker 'Fireball' and a shiny new Delong 30. It didn't take long to sand, assemble and paint the plane, but the careful breaking in of the engine seemed to take forever I had considerable experience by that time with a variety of other engines of various sizes that had tried my patience and run me through the usual ignition problems. At last the Delong was starting regularly and running well at all timer and needle settings. Thus, off to the field to test fly my red and white 'Fireball' with the 30 as power. Handling was better than anything I've flown before or since. While not a spectacular stunt machine, the 'Fireball' was very smooth and even somewhat forgiving in flight. The real test was to be a local contest in Bremerton the next weekend. Northwest Puget Sound area weather is usually a bit unpredictable in the late fall, and so it was that weekend Ram followed by gusting winds didn't set a good tone for the day. As I had found when test flying the model, starting the engine, take-off and flight were predictably good until one of the gusts caught the plane as it circled that way and the lines slacked. I had experienced this on other occasions and started to run to tighten the control lines when I slipped and fell on the very wet grass, releasing the control handle as I fell. The 'Fireball' was in level flight about twenty feet in the air and as the controls were released there was no change in the attitude of the plane. It continued in big level eccentric circles whipping the lines and handle for several laps until the lines snagged on the far outfield fence, bringing the plane to an abrupt halt, nose down in a shallow puddle just outside the ballfield. I can only estimate that the uncontrolled flight had lasted approximately three minutes, a long time to watch the nicest piece of flying equipment I had assembled fly away from me.

I ran to the crash site, picked up the plane, disconnected the lines and proceeded back to the contest with a model that was minimally damaged, an engine that was still quite salvageable and found that I had won the contest. The whole experience was a shock. It should be a matter of note that the plane was quickly restored to better-than-new condition and, with a cleaned and lubed engine, provided hours of flying satisfaction until retired many months later. I will always hold fond memories of my Walker 'Fireball' and Delong 30 combination. The inherent stability of Walker's design is truly noteworthy as was the makeup of the kit. As I recall it cost $6.95, a bit more than the average for the time, but worth every penny.

email: Your comments are always welcome!
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