My 1st Professional Job as a Spacecraft Model Maker
People often ask me how I came to be a professional spacecraft model maker.
When I was 17 years old, I created my first model of the Lunar Rover. It was right before the Apollo 15 mission in 1971, which used the Rover for the first time and was a big story in the news. So I called up the CBC and CTV to tell them what I’d done and to offer them the use of my model for their coverage of the Apollo 15 mission if they needed it.
The CBC got back to me right away to thank me for my offer. They said they already had enough models to work with but would keep me in mind in case they ended up needing another, which I thought was nice.
Then the CTV contacted me and called me into their main office the Thursday before launch. (I was living in Toronto at the time.) When they saw the model they said they wanted to use it and then showed me the press kit from NASA detailing all the experiments the Apollo 15 team was planning to conduct.
“Can you make all this in the same scale as the Rover?” they asked me. “Experiments and all?”
“Of course!” I assured them with the brash confidence only a gangly 17-year-old can muster.
“Can you have it done by the end of the weekend?”
Without blinking, I said it would be no problem. Then I hurried home to figure out how I could make it happen. Needless to say, my girlfriend didn’t see me at all for the next couple of days. My boss gave me the weekend off work and I buried myself in my basement for the entire time.
I managed to get everything done and was able to sit in the studio and watch behind the scenes as the reporters used my models during their coverage of the mission. I got to meet Harvey Kent and Henry Champ and see how they create live TV. For a space fanatic like me, it was an incredible opportunity.
I ended up running into Henry Champ again at the Kennedy Space Center in 1998 during the STS-95 mission in which John Glenn flew on the space shuttle Discovery. But that’s a whole other story.
And you know, I still have the original lunar module model CTV used in their Apollo 15 coverage back in 1971. I refurbished it in 2003 and it sits in my office to this day as a reminder of the unforgettable experience that forged my desire to become a full-time professional space model maker.