Beloved hand-crafted model planes part of 1919 transatlantic race exhibit
Dave Williams' model planes are on display at Admiralty House Communications Museum
To say Dave Williams loves airplanes would be an understatement.
He has books, magazines and pictures of aircraft all over his small bungalow, and in his garage are boxes with model after model carefully packed and stored.
Williams said that after he completes his models, he just packs them away, never to be displayed or looked at
That is — until this past winter.
The 79-year-old model builder said every airplane model that he's built was a celebration. So when the Admiralty House Communications Museum announced it would be celebrating the 100th anniversary of Alcock and Brown's historic non-stop transatlantic flight in 1919 with an exhibit, Williams figured he had to help out.
That's the thing about communities and museums. It's all about sharing and promoting local people who care about events like this.Sarah Wade
Over the years, Williams has crafted hundreds of model airplanes — but his favourite is the Hawker Hurricane used by the RAF in World War II.
"It was the workhorse of the Royal Air Force," he said.
The Hawker Hurricane, along with the Spitfire, protected the British skies from the Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain.
Williams has been building models since he was 10 years of age. He suffers from a bone ailment that didn't allow him to play sports like most boys his age, so building models became his way to pass the time.
Williams's model airplanes are not made from kits, however. He fashions everything from scratch.
After studying schematics from the many aircraft books he has, Williams then draws out the plans, adjusts the scale to the size of plane he wants to build and goes at it.
His workshop is located in the corner of his house, and with balsa wood, paper, tape and glue and the occasional pin, Williams will spend weeks on one plane. His attention to detail is surprisingly accurate.
"It's important to get it right.… Otherwise why bother?" he said.
The Admiralty House Communications Museum was overwhelmed with his gift.
You want to preserve the history. Every one has a meaning to me.- Dave Williams
Museum manager Sarah Wade said Williams is talented and "very modest about his own abilities."
"We had to find a way to include them in the display celebrating the transatlantic air race," said Wade.
"That's the thing about communities and museums — it's all about sharing and promoting local people who care about events like this."
The models given to the museum have a practical use as well.
Wade said the models add another dimension to the exhibit. She said people can walk through the museum and see archival photos taken by Margaret Carter, but can then continue into The Annex and see the model planes, making the experience that much more real.
Williams quickly responded to the question, "Are you an artist?" with "No, this is just something I do."
He said he makes these models to preserve history.
"Every model I make is either an aircraft from Canada or England that is being retired," Williams said. "So you want to preserve the history. Every one has a meaning to me, otherwise I wouldn't bother with it."
Williams's planes and the rest of the Field to Flight exhibit runs until Aug. 31 at the Admiralty House Communications Museum in Mount Pearl.