Posted : October 2011
Author : Spooky
Young C Park, a retired dentist from Honolulu, Hawaii, spends thousands of hours painstakingly working on fully functional models of famous fighter planes. Every little part of Mr. Park’s planes is a miniature replica of the original. He spends hours on end manipulating aluminum into chains, cable and hinges for his creations and doesn’t leave his workstation until every part is up to his high standards. It might seem a little extreme considering we’re talking about models, but the 77-year-old retired dentist is very passionate about his planes and always aims to execute perfect replicas of the machines that have fascinated him throughout his life. His 1/16 scale models have retracting landing gear and working controls, but the levers are so tiny you need fine tweezers to operate them.
Young C Park was born in 1932, in Kona, on the island of Hawaii, to immigrant parents who came from Korea. He grew up on the island, and says World War 2 left a lasting impression on him, especially the fighter planes. Under the guidance of a more experienced modeler, he began creating model airplanes, and when his friend took him to a WW2 airplane graveyard, where he saw the real things were built much like the models he was working on, Young got even more excited about his passion. In 1952 he was inducted in the army and got the chance to see the beautiful Corsair fighters in Korea, and continued to build models over the next 40 years.
But it wasn’t until 1996, when he ordered a Lockheed Vega kit with a 9-foot wingspan and a 5-cylinder Sidel engine that he discovered his real passion – making model planes from aluminum. He had built the framework and decided to use aluminum for the dash, windshield and window frames. The parts look so good he decided to create the rest of the plane from aluminum as well. Working in aluminum was to bring Young the satisfaction he had been seeking all his life.
The model builder soon discovered working with aluminum wasn’t much different than trying to manipulate gold in dentistry, and he even found a way of converting a series of tools he used as a dentist to help him refine his work. For example the high speed carbide drill and diamond drill were used to cut pieces of aluminum. He also used them to drill part of the fuselage and make indentations where necessary.
His F-4U-D Corsair Model took 6,000 hours to complete, over a period of 5 years. The wings fold, the wheels and hook retract and it has working controls. Part of the model fighter plane is skinned while the other is left as a cutaway so the viewer can see the detailed craftsmanship that went into building it. His P-51 Mustang model also took 6,000 hours to finish, over a period of three years, but being a much smaller plane, it was much harder to get all the details just right. All the cockpit controls are connected to their appropriate functions on the engine, and while it doesn’t run, it definitely looks like it could.