Wichita, Kan. -- Wichita is the air capital as the slogan says, but you wouldn't expect to find that applying to a man who owns a local Transmission repair shop.
John Newman, though, has been in the business for more than three decades, but what he really loves to build might surprise you. In a small transmission shop near Wichita’s downtown, the dog watches the front door, but doesn't easily move.
It is part of what makes the place comfortable. John Newman has owned this place for decades.
This is his work. However, building large scale flying model airplanes is his fun.
His most recent one, a flying model B-17.
“It’s considered a giant scale.”
John and his friend Jerry Shumaker have been building giant scale model airplanes for years. But this one is their largest.
“The wingspan on this airplane is 17 and a half feet, it weighs 219 pounds. It took us five years to build and it came in a ‘kit’ form. We bought the wood by itself when we initially started and went from there.” says Newman.
“This is about as far as we want to go on the size.” says Shumaker.
John and Jerry have been building for decades, and in this structure, which is in a location separate from the transmission repair business, you can see the results of their labor…previous models hanging from the ceiling and put everywhere there is airspace.
“This is totally a hobby. There is no business in it at all. We just enjoy building it, my partner and I do.” says Newman.
Shumaker says “We had a ball, John and I both.”
With a 17 foot wingspan and $100,000 worth materials and time invested, It will probably be a bit nerve-wracking when John takes those radio controls for the first time.
“Yes, it is undiscovered territory what we’re doing here on this big of a model. It will be like the first flight of a real airplane.”
But Jerry says ‘he’ might not be nervous. “Well, I won’t, because I’ll probably go hide.”
In the meantime, during the rest of winter both John Newman and Jerry Shumaker will calm their nerves by continue to create these mammoth winged Radio Controlled aircraft. It is their love and their life.