Not having attended an Airliner International convention since the one in Seattle in 1998, I decided to attend this years event held at the Sheraton Gateway near LAX due to it's proximity to me and having a World-Class airport nearby. My journey began early in the morning of July 9th at San Jose's Mineta International Airport. I flew N526SW, a 737-500, to LAX. I was really hoping to get on one of Southwest's NGs, but had no luck, including the return trip which was on a -300 series. As with most Southwest flights, we took off and landed on time and I was on the shuttle heading for the hotel within 15 minutes. After entering the lobby and registering for the convention, my eyes started wandering for familiar faces. Luckily I found Ken Miller and Bill Abbott within a few minutes along with their, and now my, buddies Rick and Allan. All great guys who graciously accepted my in their group for the next two days while we went about exploring LAX and everything else at the show.
Entering the grand ballroom you can't help getting over-whelmed with everything there is to see. If that wasn't enough, there were two seperate smaller rooms setup as well, one for mostly slide collectors. While I didn't see any of the modeling companies, there was plenty of their products. There were dozens of vendors selling everything from Hasegawa to the latest Revell kits and all at great prices too; including some special-edition Hasegawa and Tomy kits specifically meant for the Japanese market. One could spend days, literally, going through all the stuff there is to see. Thousands of photos, ticket jackets, playing cards, timetables, silverware, patches, models, you name it, were scattered atop the hundreds of tables. It was difficult walking up and down the aisles and not be attracted to something. At the corner of the big room I found Greg Drawbaugh of Draw Decals along with his lovely wife. I finally got to meet Greg after having exchanged e-mails for years now. Greg's a great guy and if you have an opportunity to meet him, you should not miss out. What you'll find in his vast folders will amaze you. Literally hundreds of great decals you'll find yourself salivating over while flipping the pages. The opportunites for something out of the ordinary are quite vast. I meant to pick up one of the Aloha 737 and Alaska Golden Nugget decals for the C-130, but forgot to as I got caught-up in the frenzy of other things. I'll be sure to order them shortly.
Next to Greg's tables was Atlantic Models. Their tables covered with dozens of outstanding models in all sizes. The Northwest 757 in the new colors really stood out as it was about 4 feet long. Aside from their great models in all sizes, I noticed something that really caught my eye, and will definitely order a couple if not more. They are basically nose sections that you hang on the wall. Right now they have the Boeing narrowbodies an the Lockheed C-130 and can paint one for you in any airline color you wish. Other planes are planned in the near future. You can read more about them here.
After having a quick look through the aisles we headed for lunch at the famous In-N-Out Burger on Sepulveda Blvd., right next to the two north runways at LAX. Naturally, the place was packed with spotters and photographers abound. The parking lot, the sidewalks, and even the roof top of the parking structure was littered with huge camera lenses sticking out of some guy's face trying to get that perfect shot. There's nothing like chomping down on a Double-Double while a Boeing 747-400 or A340 is landing 500 feet in front of you. If you're ever in the area, be sure to stop by this place. You won't be dissapointed. Don't bring a big lens though, a 50mm should do fine for this spot.
On my first day there, the model room was only half way full with the right
side of the room completely empty. But what was there looked very good and this
Ecutoriana diorama by Bill Parker below stood out along with his 1/72 scale
QANTAS 707 and a Dash 80.
By the second day the model room was filling up fast in time for the contest. Bill Abbott manged to finish his Minicraft Stratocruiser that morning. A great effort on Bill's part to show his support for the contest. The judging went smootly except for a couple of instances where it was really hard to choose the best model in the category. All the models were great and that made it more difficult. Erick Geike manged to bring three models all the way from Norway and won second place for his SAS DC-9-21 hot rod in the medium jet category. Third place went to Dave Kessler for his Continental MD-80. First place went to Tim Bradley for his oustanding Revell 737-800 in South African markings. Tim really went out on this one with highly detailed landing gear, landing gear wells, and "remove before flight" tags where needed.
There were plenty of models to see. Including many models brought in by Bill Parker whom manged to sell a few at great prices. Tim Bradley also brought his Australian 767 and Alaska 727 in 1/200th scale and managed to win prizes for those as well. You can read the articles about those in the articles section. Other models that stick out in my mind are the Eastern 727 diorama, Ken Miller's trio of Aloha 737s and Tom Flynn's America West Airbus A320 diorama.
I thought that I could say the thing that stands out the most for me was a
particular model or the purchase of a rare item but it's not--it's the people
I met. At this event I finally got to meet some people I had chatted with
for years over the internet but had never met in person. It's different when
you finally put a face to some screen name you knew someone by. They are no
longer "airphotoone", "scanair", or what have you, but a real person. It was
a pleasure meeting all the new people like Tim Bradley, Dale Elhardt, Erick
Geicke and his girlfriend Linda, Bill Abbott, Tom Flynn, and Greg Drawbaugh.
I was really hoping to meet Andrew Forster as well but our paths never crossed
for some reason, or maybe he wasn't there, I'm not sure. Perhaps we'll meet
at the next event.
The following photos were sent in by Mr.Tony Campbell. The first set of photos
are from the Friday afternoon trip to Mohave. Enjoy!
Member Comments :
||comment by: selier posted on 08-06-2004
This is a fine article, it will encourage airliner modelers to visit such a convention. I never visisted one myself, but if I get a change I certainly will.
||comment by: aro757 posted on 12-07-2004
Thanks Bert! It certainly was great. Like I said, meeting the people was the best part. You should definitely try to go, it's well worth it.