It’s no secret that model airplanes have been a staple of creative kids toys for as long as one can remember, but, in recent studies, they’ve proven to be even more useful in childhood development than you could ever imagine. You may think model kits are a thing of the past, but in fact there are more exciting, diverse and challenging kits available now more so than ever. And they’re only a click away.
Once a beloved pastime of your parents and grandparents in the fifties and sixties, model aircrafts date back as far as ancient Egypt. In fact, what’s considered by modern archaeologists as the oldest model aircraft in existence was found in the tomb of Saqquara during an excavation in 1898. The plane, aerodynamic in design with wings that would be considered by today’s standards as fuselage, is thought to date back to around 200 BCE. It’s amazing to think that an ancient civilization would be thinking about something as advanced as flight, and even more amazing to think that this was a child’s toy.
According to professor Emeritus Seymour Papert of the Massachusetts Institute for Technology, “Constructionism means learning by making something. LEGO is an example, writing computer programs is an example, painting is an example. And what you learn in the process of doing that sinks much deeper; its roots go deeper into the subsoil of the mind than anything anybody can tell you.” By building model airplanes, children are learning hand eye coordination, problem solving by trial and error and even social skills when they share their creations with their siblings and friends. Starting your child off early with a love for mathematics and engineering is definitely a step in the right direction.
The Lockheed SR-71 Nightbird
The Lockheed SR-71 “Blackbird” is a long-range, Mach 3+ strategic reconnaissance aircraft that was operated by the United States Air Force. It was developed as a black project from the Lockheed A-12 reconnaissance aircraft in the 1960s by Lockheed and its Skunk Works division. Renowned American aerospace engineer Clarence “Kelly” Johnson was responsible for many of the design’s innovative concepts. During aerial reconnaissance missions, the SR-71 operated at high speeds and altitudes to allow it to outrace threats. If a surface-to-air missile launch was detected, the standard evasive action was simply to accelerate and outfly the missile. The SR-71 was designed to have basic stealth characteristics and served as a precursor to future stealth aircraft.
The SR-71 served with the U.S. Air Force from 1964 to 1998. A total of 32 aircraft were built; 12 were lost in accidents, but none lost to enemy action. The SR-71 has been given several nicknames, including Blackbird and Habu. Since 1976, it has held the world record for the fastest air-breathing manned aircraft, a record previously held by the YF-12 (via: wikipedia).
Now, I have to admit, I bought this thing for myself, but I couldn’t help but wonder how it would benefit the little ones in my family. While, it looks like a bit of a daunting task to undertake but I assure you, if I can put it together, anyone can. Probably blindfolded and hogtied. When you open the package it comes with everything you need to put it together and display it. With lots of little pieces, screws and a tiny screwdriver I have to warn you, while this is a kids toys, it’s not recommended for anyone under the age of eight.
The plane itself comes in a window box that you could actually just stick on a shelf to display if you felt like it, with an easy to read instructional diagram on the back. Even without the instructions I found it simple to put together. By the time I was finished I was almost disappointed because I didn’t have another one to work on. But, at thirteen bucks a piece, I’m pretty sure I’ll get my hands on another one pretty soon.
Honestly, I was impressed by how detailed this thing was, even as someone who isn’t really all that of a model builder or collector. The lines and etchings on the body of the plane look laser cut even if they’re not and the matte black finish gives it a realistic look that doesn’t immediately scream “plastic” when I look at it. It’s not very often that you find something that’s cheap AND well made. Quality has gone down in recent years, but I have absolutely no complaints here.
After sticking this thing together, I placed it on the included stand, stepped back and fell in love with model building forever. I know that when I have children, whenever that’ll be, I can say with confidence that they will be building model planes with me whether they like it or not. Hey, a little mommy time never hurt anybody! At the end of the day, model planes or models of any kind for that matter, are beneficial in a multitude of ways. Jumpstart your kids learning process and get them ready for a technological future that’s as exciting as it is terrifying. If you want to get your hands on this plane or a million of the others they have, it can be found at shop72.com.