With recent orders from the governor to stay home, several Whidbey residents have leapt at the opportunity to finish long-term projects started months ago.
David Welton is one of these people. The South Whidbey resident has been building a model of a real-life airplane since November. Titled “Red Devil,” the model of the 1916 British WWI fighter plane is one-sixth the size of the actual plane.
“I enjoy doing the research,” Welton said. “The research is part of the fun.”
The model plane has a 62-inch wingspan and weighs about five pounds. Most notable is its vibrant color.
“I’ve had eye surgery, and a bright red airplane is easy for me to see,” he explained.
Welton has spent most of his life building models of airplanes. Most of his are built with the intent to fly — he installs a motor and a radio control device.
He has taken flight lessons before but decided he preferred flying his models to flying an actual plane.
“It’s a lot of fun, and there’s not much chance of a serious accident,” he said with a laugh.
He’s crashed many models before, but undeterred, he has kept building them based on historical planes.
One of the current challenges of building models is locating the materials, since Welton has found many hobby shops carrying these items have closed during the pandemic.
He builds his from kits containing balsa wood, stringers and wood sticks. Before the order to shelter in place, he had been spending about 15 to 20 minutes every day building the plane.
The curved wings he builds are another challenge. Half of an inch of balsa can’t bend, but he has found one-eight of an inch will.
Now, he hopes the Red Devil will be finished within the next three weeks. He is eagerly waiting for the motor to arrive, so it can be installed.
He will also be adding an iron-on plastic coating and details to the remainder of the plane. It’s likely the finished product will join the ranks of the 10 other model planes he currently has hanging in his garage.
Next up, Welton plans to build the Spirit of St. Louis, another monoplane.
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