Article as it appears in the December 24th The Columbian newspaper.
Any aviation enthusiast would be delighted to find this model of an F-16 fighter under the Christmas tree. But there wouldnâ€™t be room for much of anything else.
Itâ€™s 8 feet long, and thatâ€™s just part of the exhibit; the display also has a hands-on component. A person can sit in a full-size replica of the pilotâ€™s seat and use cockpit controls to move the plane around on its display base.
The â€œpilotâ€ can hit the afterburner switch to trigger a ring of glowing LEDs.
The F-16 also has working landing gear, complete with shock absorbers, even though the wheels will never hit the runway.
The F-16 is headed for the Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science & Technology, in Syracuse, N.Y.
The replica of the NASA launch vehicle is the biggest project ever undertaken at J&S Technologies, owner John Geigle said.
The Atlas rocket also is headed for the museum in New York.
The Vancouver fabrication shop has been turning out museum-quality replicas for displays and exhibits for several years. The products keep getting more sophisticated, as illustrated by the second-generation replicas of a pair of Mars rovers.
After building Mars rovers about three years ago, Geigleâ€™s craftsmen are putting the finishing touches on a new-and-improved version of the Red Planet explorers.
â€œWe have a lot more information now,â€ said Geigle.
Three years ago, resources for his design team were pretty much limited to photos on the NASA Web site. Now the model shop has a relationship with the California Institute of Technology, home of NASAâ€™s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. In addition to thousands of additional images, â€œWe got one blueprint, for a rover arm,â€ Geigle said.
â€œJPL sent up a representative and he asked if he needed a clean-room suit. He said it looked that real,â€ Geigle said. â€œWe laughed.â€
One of the new Mars rovers will spend a few months at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in Portland before heading for its permanent home at the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum in McMinnville, Ore.
Geigle said he will keep the other rover as part of his own space-inspired exhibit. â€œWeâ€™re trying to break into the traveling exhibit field,â€ he said.
Some of J&S Technologiesâ€™ museum replicas are for sale to the public, by the way. The shop has created a 1/12th-scale model of the â€œLittle Boyâ€ atomic bomb for the gift shop of the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History in New Mexico.