Hatteberg's People - Bill Wing

By: Larry Hatteberg Email
By: Larry Hatteberg Email

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February 13th, 2011

On Hatteberg's People, before the internet, before video games, before irresistible digital technology took our attention away, there was old-fashioned model building. Bill Wing of Salina has been building airplane models most of his life. It's what he does, but perhaps not what he wants to do.

It was the 1940's and Bill Wing's dad took him for a ride in an airplane. That experience changed his life.

"I just like airplanes.....and I like to build things."

Hundreds of airplane models of all kinds. Models that take up the hours, and fill the time.

"Well, I've got 320 of them built and I've probably got I'm guessing four to five hundred of them in boxes yet."

He spends his days in his basement, working in great detail to build the models exactly as they were made.

"The more time you spend in it, the more detail you can put in them. Trying to make them as exact as I can."

Bill used to be a long haul truck driver. And you can tell he misses it.

"Sometimes I feel kind of worthless when you can't do nothing anymore.

That's where the airplanes come in......

"I worked till I was 72."

They fill the void...but not the memory.

"I don't miss the long hours I used to have to do, but I do miss the people I used to know."

That road is no longer traveled. Now Bill sits among the hundreds boxes of model airplanes....

"Trouble is, I keep buying more of them. If it isn't too much money, I'll buy it."

His books of research nearby....constant companions when questions arise.

"There is the bottom of the wings."

As his finished models bask in his many display cases.....there is one question people always ask.

"My God what are you going to do with them when you die?"

There is no answer to that question --- right now, the joy is in the building.......and he's happy doing it...

"Yes, more or less unless I could go ride a real one."

So Bill Wing who regrets he ever retired, has found solace in his model planes.

"Hid down here, there's not many people who see it."

"It's just something to do."

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