One of my fond childhood memories is asking Mom for 25 cents so I could by a balsa wood airplane. They came packaged in a plastic bag. Once you were the proud owner, you emptied the contents on the ground and readied yourself to assemble your flying machine.
The body was fairly firm, but the wings were quite delicate. They were machine pressed into the balsa. You prayed that you didn't split the wings while breaking off the excess wood.
The next crucial step was inserting the wings into the plastic clip that slid onto the fuselage Some models merely had a slit in the body. Inserting the tail was an equally delicate procedure for an 8 year old.
Voila! You are finally done and ready to toss your plane into the air and see how far it will go. After a few flights of 10 or 12 feet each, the plane eventually crashes into a tree and because it is balsa, the plane is demolished.
The more expensive planes came with a propeller that was operated by a rubber band and some came with landing gear. My neighborhood was lacking in appropriate runways and the wheeled craft needed a very smooth surface for take-off, but the propeller driven craft were...neat!
We used to say neat a lot. The motor was a rubber band that was attached to the rear-end of the plane. You would wind it as tight as possible. Instead of tossing your plane in the air, you merely held it overhead and let loose of the rubber band and watched it fly away. Of course it too hit a tree, crashed and the balsa was broken beyond repair.
At 56 years old I think my days of flying model planes are behind me, however this past weekend I went to pick up my wife who was shopping at Hobby Lobby.
As I wandered the isles looking for my sweet lady, I spied the invention that assured me we have truly entered the 21st Century. As GE's motto used to say, "Better Living Through Science". Yes modern man has created the Balsa wood Airplane Electric Rubber band Propeller Winder with Counter." Incredible! I mean Neat!
No longer does a boy have to wile away his young life turning the plane's rubber band propeller by use of his finger. All he needs is this device and 2 AA batteries.
Life is grand!