One thing I love in particular about vintage Ladybird Books is just how specific they were. This week’s choice, Flying Models, is very much that. Part of the How to Make sub-series that was a 1970s addition to Series 633 it really is quite narrow in what it covers compared to so many craft books of today.
Published originally in 1979, and so full of some great kids’ late 70s fashion, a note inside the front of the book makes you feel slightly like it is trying to justify its existence from the very start:
The flying of model aircraft is recognised as a spot by the Sports Council, and the governing body of the sport is The Society of Model Aeronautical Engineers Limited.
As far as craft books go, Flying Models doesn’t really strike me as one for a complete beginner. Instead it is geared much more towards an older child, or one with lots of help, who has maybe done some model making before, and who certainly has access to a variety of materials and tools.
Starting with an introduction into the various parts of an aeroplane and how it flies, the book aims to provide some background theory about flight before lunching into how to actually make flying models. Balsa wood is introduced as the most common material used in model aircraft and it’s something I recall quite a bit of from my childhood, but now in 2020 I’m not at all sure where I would buy it if I didn’t have a good model shop nearby, or access to the internet of course!
The book has several pages detailing balsa wood, the different types available, the various adhesives you might need to use and the tools you need to make your models. It seems a shame in a way that it goes through all that before introducing the first model – a paper plane – which only needs paper, scissors and PVA glue to make. Maybe this is a reward for those children who have managed to stick with the book until page 18?
Once the paper plane has been mastered the book then moves on to boomerangs made of plywood and a balsa wood glider. Both the sorts of wholesome projects that you can really imagine a Ladybird era child embarking on on a weekend with their Father in the shed whilst Mother makes dinner in the kitchen.
In fairness though Flying Models is a brilliant book for children who are really interested in aerodynamics and making aircraft whilst understanding some of the principle behind them. There are detailed drawings showing what you need with all the measurements on them. It’s not everyday that a children’s book has diagrams labelled with terms like “wing dihedral diagram”. For anyone wondering dihedral means “inclination of an aircraft’s wing from the horizontal, especially upwards away from the fuselage”. Even having a degree in engineering this was something I had to go and look up!
I honestly have no idea if you could get a children’s book as detailed as this in modern times, but it really would be perfect for children who are showing an interest in aerodynamics and would definitely be the basis of some physics lessons should I ever need to homeschool again. I just need to find myself a balsa wood supplier and raid the OH’s tool bag first.
About Ladybird Tuesday
Ladybird Tuesday is a regular feature here on Penny Reads, where I delve into my Ladybird book collection and choose a title to share with my readers. The weekly series originally started on my old blog, Being Mrs C, and this post originally appeared on there. I’m now in the process of moving all those posts over to Penny Reads and also adding titles that I have acquired since then. A list is currently being compiled here of all the titles I have in my collection.