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Kapitan Aviation Stories

The Best Toy

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Its 1965, and my father brought from Germany a toy that made me the happiest five year old in the planet. I have nerver again seen such a high-tech toy, with quality and attention to detail.

Its puzzling, I thought that the future would produce better quality. Progress gives the idea of improvement, but in this case I reckon the 60s was the "future" compared to today. In those days there were no "made in China" mass cheap products. Only Japan was entering the industrial world with lower prices and a slight reduction in quality.

Germany was trying hard to prove itself worthy in post-war years. Maybe thats the explanation. Anyway, the toy was a Lufthansa Viscount, one of the most popular long range, four engine props of that decade.

Luckily one snap photo survived of me playing with it, in those pre-Flight Simulator years, but I can assure you all my gameplay fantasies were exactly as flightsimming today, probably more reallistic though, after all, i had my "hands" grabbing, touching the airplane

It operated with 4 batteries. There were two transparent sections, as you can see in the picture. One was the cockpit, which opened up like a canopy, with two little figures, pilot and a co-pilot. Inside there were four tiny switches, each one starting one of the engines. Once they were running with a very reallistic "viscount" sound, the navigation and beacon lights flashing, you could turn another switch near the nose wheel that made the plane move on its own.

The nose wheel was steerable, you could make it go straight or in circles. And here comes the strawberry: once it started moving, you see the transparent passenger section, a little figure (stewardess) would come out of a dark door from the non-transparent side, with a tray in her hands, sliding thru the aisle, stopping midway, turn, as if offering a passenger something, then continue sliding across the cabin.

I never again saw a toy with that kind of detail, you can imagine the joy it produced to a kid already crazy about aviation. It survived my whole childhood and gave me years of fun. I used to build whole airports using lego or anything else to support an imaginary flightsimming world. As the old saying goes "the only difference between adults and kids is the price of the toys". For me, this Viscount was as effective as FSX is today.
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  1. xxmikexx's Avatar
    Luis,

    What a remarkable toy. I would have died to have it because like you I was aviation minded even as a kid. (But I go back further than you -- I was born in 1944 and I remember when Orville Wright died, in 1948.)

    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    I know what you mean about the sound of a Viscount. During the late 50s we lived near La Guardia airport in NYC, right under the curving approach path to runway 31, I believe it is.

    Anyway, the aircraft on this curving approach came right over our apartment building, maybe 700? 800? feet feet up. When Capitol Airways started operating Viscounts, the shrill screech of the engines always got me very excited.

    My bedroom window faced the airport, which was perhaps 3-4 miles away. I could follow the aircraft almost all the way to touchdown, when a bunch of buildings would intervene. But after that I would see the tips of the vertical stabilizers as the aircraft completed their rollouts.
    Updated 09-09-2008 at 01:14 AM by xxmikexx
  2. bushp04's Avatar
    Does time even exist for a blog? Ha! Great posts, both, Luis and Mike.
    On a trip to visit my grandparents in the early 50's, our American DC-6 had engine trouble and landed at Washington. I'll never forget the unplanned deplaning, and the professionalism with which the American crew handed over their passengers over to a Capitol Airways crew. We boarded their Viscount for a short night flight the rest of the way to Philadelphia. The Viscount cabin was so different! The crew was great, and we enjoyed a smooth, quiet ride!
    Thanks for the posts El Kapitan and Mike!