Russia sings the “Blues”…. (Monogram 1/48 Mig 29)
In 1992, the Blue Angels took the show to Moscow, a country they'd spent their careers learning to fight. ( ? Blue Angels trip in Moscow, Russia, 1992 - YouTube ) This was quite an experience for all involved, and was the epitome of the words, "goodwill tour". If you watch the video, you'll have an idea of the significance of their trip.
CDR. Greg Woolridge was leading the Blues at the time, and speaks of his experiences. You'll see that pilots from both sides, got to go for "rides" in each others aircraft, and I'm sure there was a bit of "one ups man ship" from each. As with all Blue Angel performances, this one ended with a fine banquet.
Trader Jon's was a well known establishment in Pensacola, the "Cradle of Naval Aviation", and home of the Blue Angels. Trader Jon's - Pensapedia, the Pensacola encyclopedia was run by a real character, Martin "Trader Jon" Weissman. . For those of you fortunate enough to have experienced it, Trader Jon's was split into two connected buildings, the bar and the "Blue Angels room". The bar was a "museum" in itself. The Blue Angel room was it's own museum, devoted to the Blues. Many of the Blues "private" parties were held there over the years. Artifacts abounded in both rooms. It was dark and dinghy, a typical "navy" bar, certainly meant for entertaining the troops, not your typical "sports bar" of today, but it held a collection unmatched by anything else I've ever seen. One wall, directly behind the bar, itself, was full of autographed photos of former customers. Astronauts, presidents, entertainers, you name it. Behind and throughout the bar, were uniforms, models, photos, pieces of aircraft (including the tail off the last A-6 in service) and all sorts of odds n ends.
In the late '80's (or early '90's) our local IPMS club decided on a field trip to Pensacola. Our resident artist, (at that time), Ray Waddey, donated an original painting to be auctioned off, to the club to pay for the trip. About eight of us were headed west for P'cola, and the National Museum of Naval Aviation. While we were there, Ray asked if we'd ever heard of Trader Jon's, and suggested we pay him a visit. Although we weren't there long, I was awestruck. I knew if I ever returned to Pensacola, I'd come back to this place.
A couple years later, a wife (ex) in tow, I visited TJ's once again. The, then Mrs., had family in P'cola, so the cost of accommodations was right. I was able to peruse the place at my own pace, and meet "Trader", himself. I asked if he would be interested in a model of the Blues, I had at home. Of course he was.
The IPMS Modeleers (P'cola) had a contest, which gave me another excuse to return, this time my old Monogram F-11 Blue Angels in formation, in some odd scale, in hand. I never saw an old man so excited. We immediately went into the Blue Angels room and hung it up. I told him I would try to float an idea past our club to build all the Blues aircraft, in 1/72, for his room. He loved the idea, and so did our club members.
IPMS Ocala came up with enough volunteers, and all the aircraft (minus the damn Cutlass) we would need for the project. The idea was that the club would plan another trip to P'cola, visit the museum and present the models to "Trader". When it came down to the wire, only two of us, and our wives, ended up going. "Trader" was, again, thrilled. Immediately lit display cabinets were made available. Pictures were taken and a great weekend was had.
A year or so later, I visited again. Of course I was ushered into the Blue Angels room to check out our display. There was talk of us doing the transports next. I noticed a photo on the wall. It was a Blue Angel holding a model. In fact, it was, if memory serves, CDR. Woolridge, and he was holding wooden "desk" model of a Mig 29, presented to him at the banquet in 1992. The Mig was done in Blue Angel markings...!
I told "Trader" he would have one upon my next visit. Months later, I returned again, Blue Angels Mig 29 in hand. The photo immediately came down off the wall, and was placed in the cabinet, along with the model, and all the others. It was quite a moment.
Sadly, "Trader" had a stroke before we could get back again, and after a few months, passed away. I was never to return, and now the place is just a pleasant memory. Many good times. I don't know what became of his collection (s). Perhaps some day it will surface in a museum somewhere. I certainly would enjoy seeing it all once more, and it is a part of Pensacola history, as well as that of a lot of young sailors.
I've had a Monogram 1/48 Mig 29 in my stash since '85. Not being one to pass up a sale, or cool box art, I recently purchased another. (even on sale, it was twice the cost of the original) I always fancied it a good looking aircraft. The idea hit to do another, only in 1/48, similar to "Traders" and Greg Woolridge's. One of only three that I know to exist. For your viewing pleasure...