Warren, Ohio – August 2018 – Wings and Wheels

Sloas Airfield in Warren, Ohio is a nice 3,000 foot long grass landing strip that sees occasional use, except for 1 day a year – this day.

This was the day for Wings and Wheels. As we entered we immediately passed by a fantastic Porsche.

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Hurried by the Cobra.

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Skipped the Ferrari…

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Even blew by the Superbird, because on this day cars were anything but the Superbirds.

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The ‘Wings’ part of the show were the stars.

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Taking off and landing throughout the day.

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With biplanes.

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We were literally standing next to the runway for the takeoffs.

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The classic cars lining the far side of the runway.

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The pilots were showing off their skills.

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Many completing low passes down the length of the runway.

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Before gaining altitude and heading out.

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The weather was perfect, a few big puffy clouds.

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The ‘crew’ were the volunteers.

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Old school leather helmets were in order.

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Biplanes have a majestic look to them.

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Another one heads skyward.

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I would estimate there were about 50 airplanes when we arrived, many parked with their owners hanging out or checking out the rest of the planes and the cars.

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The noses of the various plans are very distinctive.

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As well as the tails.

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An immaculate Piper Cub.

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Even a couple of ultra lights.

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We spent most of our time in the planes, as we see custom cars all the time.

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Another one heads out – we were happy we were there fairly early as by noon many had departed.

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And he takes off for home.

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While one returns.

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The symmetry of a small plane.

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This photo illustrates how close you were allowed.

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Planes everywhere you looked.

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An excellent paint job for this biplane.

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Future pilots perhaps?

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Even the Porsche pales in comparison to this.

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Inside the hangar is a museum with numerous models.

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Most of the models were custom built.

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Models everywhere.

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All of the models had amazing detail to them.

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We headed back out into the heat to check out a few more airplanes. This one is a 7/8 scale Italian WW1 air force plane.

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The owner of this is an American Airplanes pilot. It must be strange going from 737s to a 2 seater.

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Finally it was time to fly on out (ok – drive). What a great event.

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Mansfield, OH – July 2018 – Elektro The Robot

Mansfield, Ohio is a mid sized city in north central Ohio. It is most famous for the historic Mansfield Reformatory, which was used for the filming of Shawshank Redemption.

Also in Mansfield is their local museum, housed in a 1800s Soldier’s and Sailors Home.

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Mansfield was once home to a division of Westinghouse that built home appliances. At one point in the 1950s over 8,000 people from Mansfield worked for Westinghouse.

Without a doubt the most interesting thing ever developed and built for Westinghouse in Mansfield is Elektro, the Robot.

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Elektro was designed by Joseph Barnett for the 1939 World’s Fair in New York City. He is credited with being the first true robot ever built.

With voice commands he could walk, talk and count on his fingers. Built out of gears, cams, motors, vacuum tubes and a photo electric cell, one of Elektro’s stranger talents was the ability to smoke a cigarette.

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When we arrived in Mansfield we were greeted by Scott Schaut the curator of the museum, and expert on Elektro. When I asked why he wasn’t in a museum in Pittsburgh, the home of Westinghouse, Scott replied ‘over his dead body’!

Scott has re-created Elektro with modern resin’s and other components. The original is on the left, with the recreation on the right. There was once a dog named Sparko but he was lost to time.

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Also within the museum are some exhibits on the Westinghouse products built in town.

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Including a roasting pan.

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The museum has other local interest items scattered throughout.

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While much of the museum has a military feel to it, they also have some local minerals on display, along with more eclectic items.

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As part of their military display they have a very large model airplane collection.

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While most are military, they have some of the early airplanes like the Wright Flyer.

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The models are very detailed in the presentation. Scott said it best when he said, we are the museum for Mansfield but 90% of the people that walk through the door are looking for Elektro – just like us.

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Pittsburgh – July 2018 – Miniature Railroad and Village

The Miniature Railroad and Village located at the Carnegie Science Center has origins dating back 100 years. In 1919 Charles Bowdish created a holiday train display in his home in the small town of Brookville, Pennsylvania.

In 1954 it was moved to Buhl Planetarium where it resided until that closed, and moved to it’s current located at the science center in 1992.

The display features life and times in Western Pennsylvania between the 1880s and 1930s.

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IT’S GROUNDHOG DAY! The famed groundhog of Punxsutawney and his home on Gobblers Knob. Will it be an early spring?

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A steel mill. This one is a replica of one in Sharon, PA. Amazingly there are numerous movements of cranes, lifts and other features throughout.

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The lights of the ovens in the mill are illuminated.

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The roundhouse supports the trains that are running throughout the exhibit.

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Everything in the 83′ x 30′ display is hand made by the volunteers and staff. It is based on the ‘O’ scale, 1/4 inch = 1 foot.

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My personal favorite is Forbes Field, the baseball stadium from 1909-1970. Each ‘person’ is a painted Q tip.

The detail even includes a runner going head first into second base.

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The model features hundreds of actual Western Pennsylvania buildings, but not in any geographic detail. While Forbes Field is exact, there was no train running by the stadium – it was sitting in the middle of a neighborhood.

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For locals they can spend hours searching out the places they knew or grew up near.

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The day we were there a very nice young lady named Nicole offered to show us the back room where they make all of the buildings and accessories.

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They have many completed buildings, just not enough room to display them. As noted previously everything is hand made – no kits here.

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Some spare rail cars.

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The hilly terrain of Western PA is well represented.

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A streetcar that became a diner.

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Rodgers Field, located near Oakmont, was Pittsburgh first municipal airport. It operated from 1925-1935.

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The famed Frank Lloyd Wright home Fallingwater. Fortunately the real one does not overlook a steel mill.

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A small ‘patch town’ – coal mine town.

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The roller coaster at Luna Park. Opened in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh in 1905, it was only around for a few years before closing.

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The trees and bushes are made from hydrangeas that are collected and dried. From there each one is hand made using a twisted copper wire for the trunk and limbs. Their goal is that no two trees are exactly alike.

After gluing they paint the tree for the 3 primary seasons, summer, fall and winter. Each tree can take up to 1 day to make, and there are hundreds of thousands of trees on display.

There are larger model train displays around, but this one is well worth the visit.

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Flemington, NJ – June 2018 – Northlandz Model Railroad Display

As you drive along US Route 202 near Flemington in western New Jersey you will come upon a building alongside the road that at first glance appears to possibly be vacant. Set behind a small parking lot, and on this summer day somewhat overgrown by weeds is a 50,000 square foot gray building.

When you stop and walk inside you see a small snack bar and gift shop, and the appearances of something past it’s prime. However as you pay your entry fee and head in you are in for an amazing experience.

For it is here in Flemington, New Jersey that you find what is one of the world’s largest model train display.

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What started as a hobby in the basement of Bruce Zaccagnino in the early 1970s eventually developed into something much larger.

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Bruce was a musician and computer game designer but whose passion was model railroading.

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The display has over 400 bridges …

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Eight miles of track ….

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They also have some static displays including this train wreck – note the passangers hanging onto the side of the car.

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Some of the displays appear to be 15′ high.

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The rail yard.

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Another of the 400 bridges across a deep ravine.

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The detail is great – this is a tower in the amusement park.

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Another massive bridge with a monastery on top of the mountain.

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More ravines and bridges.

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There were a few trains running but with the size it became a game to listen for the trains to come across the features.

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A model of the famed Firth of Forth bridge in Scotland.

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Another view of the same bridge from below.

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Putt putt course from hell.

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The Golden Spike location in Utah.

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The control room. Northlandz is an amazing place to see – don’t let the slightly worn look of the outside and lobby deter you – it is well worth the visit.

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Baltimore – May 2018 – American Visual Art Museum

At the base of Federal Hill in Baltimore is the American Visual Art Museum. For those who enjoy the unusual, this is a museum for you.

Founded in 1995 by Rebecca Ann Hoffberger, the museum started out as a display of artwork from Ms. Hoffberger’s psychiatric patients who had created the art as part of a program known as People Encouraging People.

 

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The museum is now located in two buildings housing over 60,000 square feet of exhibit space.

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One of Ms Hoffberger’s goal was to encourage and promote artists who come from outside the academic or institutionalized learning spaces.

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As a result you get a great eclectic mix of exhibits.

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Including a life size sculpture of a man made out of small gauge wire.

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As well as interesting interpretations of the human form.

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The dress below was made on 3D printers from the original, the artists mother’s wedding dress from the 1940s. Each circle was hand created to celebrate her mothers life.

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As a finale (for us) – a Pez collection.

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Canton, OH – April 2018 – Model Ship Museum

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At the edge of Canton, Ohio behind a row of old shopping areas, is a building that at first appearances is a vacant factory. As you drive up you see a small sign that says ‘Blue Water Majesty Museum’.

Once you enter and meet Larry Pulka, the owner and craftsman, you see it is much more. For more than 40 years Larry has built from scratch model ships. These ships are built just like the real thing, starting with the skeleton and beyond.

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The display area is well done, with display cases and backgrounds very professionally done.

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Most are scale sailing ships.

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Each ship has details such as lifeboats, railings and masts. All are built out of exotic woods, using different woods to represent the various colors.

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Larry goes into such detail that he has made tiny wood nails that are used extensively.

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Further detail is shown in the peripherals on the ship.

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If you find yourself in Canton, Ohio it is well worth a visit to go see Larry and his amazing ships.

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Chicago – December 2017 – Museum of Science and Industry

The Chicago Museum of Science and Industry was the perfect choice for another exceptionally cold December day.  Located in the Hyde Park neighborhood on the South Shore of Chicago, it is located in the former Palace of Fine Arts from the 1893 World Columbian Exposition.  It became the Museum of Science and Industry during the 1933 Century of Progress Worlds Fair.

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The famed ‘Christmas Around the World’ tree greets you as you arrive during the holiday season, standing 45′ tall with 30,000 lights and ‘snow’ falling twice an hour.

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My main purpose for the visit to what is essentially a children’s museum was to see the ‘Great Train Story’, a 3500 square foot HO model railroad display.

This model leads you from a large Chicago model along a 2200 mile journey to Seattle. It is located in the transportation hall, underneath a Boeing 727.

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The downtown Chicago model has many details including the El.

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When you reach Seattle it is complete with the Space Needle.

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The other exhibit I wanted to check out was the lego ‘Brick by Brick’ display. Interestingly despite all the interesting architecture in Chicago from Frank Lloyd Wright they chose to use Fallingwater, located near Pittsburgh (although it is the best architectural home in America)

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The Pyramids were represented, including a cutaway to show the interior.

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Same as with the Roman Colosseum. While the exhibits were nice, we have seen better exhibits for both the Lego’s and model railroad displays (Cincinnati History Center comes to mind, as well as Entertrainment Junction). Still it beat being outside in -2 Ft (-15 C) weather.

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