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Joe Caputo
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Russia sings the “Blues”…. (Monogram 1/48 Mig 29)

July 12, 2014 · in Aviation · · 15 · 2.5K

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 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...

Reader reactions:
6  Awesome

6 additional images. Click to enlarge.

15 responses

  1. super what if you crazy person

  2. That's way cool, Joe. Now you need to do a Thunderbirds Su-27...

    • I can't decide if it's actually a "what if", or not. Actually it's a model of a model that did exist. The difference is an interior and landing gear on the model, instead of a base. There is a "history" behind it, which I thought was pretty neat. This wasn't just something "off the wall" that I dreamed up, so I can't take credit for the idea.

  3. Joe,
    Many thanks for a great model and a terrific story. It's a shame you haven't been able to get back to the museum, or at least find out what happened to it. Maybe it's still intact? I hope you can return there someday.

    • As a matter of fact, the 4th of July weekend found me in Pensacola. Trader Jon's Bar "museum" is long gone. I visited the US Naval Air Museum, I talked to one of the staff about Trader Jon's. Sadly, everything is gone. Most of it auctioned off, some for big bucks. He had no idea where it all went, probably to "collectors". So, another era has passed. Luckily I still have my personal tour on VHS, and hope to have it put on DVD soon. All that remains of the original bar is the plaque out front, denoting a "landmark".

  4. Great work here Joe. Can always count on you for something different.

  5. Nice Joe, great story as well mate.
    Looks really smart and cool.
    Well done Joe.

  6. See Joe……I told you they'd like it. Great looking model buddy.

  7. Thanks for sharing the story Joe. That is too bad that the collection was broken up and scattered. We had a local museum in Oshawa that had a large collection of Camp X artifacts, which was part of the SOE network in WWII. Camp X was located on Lake Ontario just outside Oshawa. When the owner died his daughter auctioned everything off and the unique collection was scattered all over the place. Catch the displays while you can I suppose because the private collections come and go unfortunately.

  8. Joe, fabulous story with a beautiful model to go with it.

  9. Thank you all for your kind words. For me, this model is sort of a rememberance. Like so many of you, we have met significant people, in our lives, and then they are gone, before we've had enough time with them (if there is such a thing) At least we have the memory's, and are able to pass them along. I'm glad you enjoyed some of mine.

  10. Very nice model - and an even nicer story.

  11. Fantastic, Joe, both the model and the story. What great memories to have.

    • Thanks, George. Yes, great memories for sure. One afternoon, Trader invited my wife and I, to lunch with one of the Blue Angels, and his girlfriend. Trader laid out quite a spread, and the party went on for hours. Our money was no good. Trader was that kind of guy !

  12. Joe,
    What a Fabulous experience being there and contributing to this historic place. What wonderful memories you must have. Your model is beautiful

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