Personal Planes
Douglas DC-10-30 – Boeing 707-338 – Boeing 747-400

People who make models often feel inclined to making ones of things they have a personal attachment to. Cars are common, so are motor bikes and aircraft. As a person who likes to make models of aircraft I have occasionally made models of aircraft I’ve flown in. Not as a pilot because I’m not one, but as a passengers. They bring back happy memories of places I’ve been, people I’ve met and the simple pleasure of flying itself. So here are three aircraft in the collection that I’ve flown in.

Douglas DC-10-30 (Air New Zealand) in 1/144 By Accurate Airliners
In 1974 Valma and I flew to the United States to visit friends we’d made through fandom (the science fiction community). To get there we flew in an Air New Zealand DC-8 to Auckland and from there to Los Angeles (with a stop in Honolulu) in one of Air New Zealand’s lovely new DC-10s. Fortunately we has seats in the back row of economy class so we didn’t feel so exposed, but we experienced the queues of people waiting to get to the toilets back there. It was the first time we’d flown overseas and it was a pleasant, exciting and memorable flight.

I tried making the old Airfix kit of this aircraft and gave up in disgust. The only other useful option at that time was the resin and expensive Accurate Airliners kit. Accurate Airliners has a reputation for making excellent model kits, and it is well deserved so it is worth building at least one. Getting Air New Zealand decals was also a challenge. Old Models, a New Zealand company, makes decals for this aircraft but I find them rather brittle. Instead I used Two-Six decals which are excellent but must be designed for the Airfix kit so they are a fraction too short for the Accurate Airliners kit, so I ended up having to buy two sets to complete this model. There is also a Workbench Note about building this model (and a Swissair MD-11 that I will write about one of these days) that you can read.

Boeing 707-338 (Qantas) in 1/144 by Minicraft
After seven weeks of travelling around the United States, meeting a lot of friends and going to conventions we arrived back in Los Angeles (where, among other things, we toured the Douglas Long Beach factory where they made DC-10s). Friends has advised us to fly to Honolulu early in the morning, spend a day seeing the sights and then catch the very late Qantas flight back to Australia. Which we did. As we walked out to the 707 I saw that it had the extra pod which carried a spare engine, which meant a slower flight and also a stop in Tahiti in the early morning to refuel. It was a dreadful and endless flight so we were delighted and relieved to finally land back in Sydney where everyone spoke Australian.

The Minicraft kit of the Boeing 707 is a rather unfortunate thing, but really there’s nothing else on the market so we have to cope with it. The main thing that needs to be fixed is the kit engines which are a thin and weedy replica of those mighty Pratt & Whitney engines. There are several replacement options available but you have to hunt for them. I’ve written about this in a Workbench Note that you might find worthwhile. The decals come from Hawkeye Models, a company which provides us with almost all the major Australian airline liveries you can imagine.

Boeing 747-400 (Qantas) in 1/144 by Revell
In 1994 I returned to the United States to visit a couple of universities and other institutions to see whether I wanted to follow a career as a historian there – which I didn’t. I also took the opportunity to catch up on some old fannish friends I hadn’t seen for two decades. Finally back at Los Angeles International I boarded the Boeing 747 home. I noticed that it was one of their new 747-400s rather than their old 747-200s, but what I didn’t appreciate at the time was that these versions had the range to fly direct to Sydney with no necessary stop at Honolulu (or Tahiti). Being exhausted I slept most of the flight and was overjoyed to find myself back where everyone speaks Australian so quickly and effortlessly.

The Revell Boeing 747-400 kit is relatively simple and easy to make, if you have enough bench space for it. The only real challenge is the engines because that 747 had three engine options so you have to match the engines with the airliner that flew with them. The best place to start your search for the appropriate engines is the Airline Hobby Supplies website. There are several decal choices for the main decals and, as usual, Hawkeye Models is my preferred choice.