How did the Aluminum Air Force & Soda Can Models come about and why did we start building out of aluminum cans?
Well, let me tell you.
Both were born from necessity over twenty years ago. As a former IT professional, I found myself suddenly unable to continue the daily grind as my body struggled to fight with the devastating effects of the neurological disorder, Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy. For those who are curious, RSD, otherwise known as CRPS or Complex Regional Pain Syndrome is a rare chronic pain condition most often affecting one of the limbs (arms, legs, hands, or feet), usually after an injury or trauma to that limb. CRPS is characterized by prolonged or excessive pain and mild or dramatic changes in skin color, temperature, and/or swelling in the affected area. Sounds fun doesn’t it?
Not really, but I came to the conclusion that doing something productive was far better than sitting around dwelling on the pain combined with numerous procedures and medications I would have to endure. By early 2002, I found myself unable to keep working full time. Medical retirement loomed and I knew that I needed to find something to do to occupy my time or else I would drive myself, my wife and my kids all crazy. Twice during my battle with CRPS, I found myself confined to a wheelchair and twice I fought my way back out. The last time, I swore that I would never go back, and I haven’t since. The fight is daily, but through Soda Can Models, I have proven that I have not been handicapped by my condition. As Janet Barnes so eloquently put it, ‘I am physically challenged and differently abled.”
We threw ourselves into this newfound passion with everything we had, determined to find a method to produce the most accurate and stunning soda can models ever created. By 2006, our system for building and creating can models caught the attention of the owner of a local Hobby Store. We were invited to sell our products in his shop and also commissioned to build a model for an upcoming IPMS model show in order to showcase our model building skills. Using the techniques we had learned during this 4 year period, we began our most ambitious project to date; building a 4 foot long Antonov An-225 with a 48 inch wingspan. Despite still recovering from another surgery to my spinal column, I set to work on the An-225 and poured everything into the project. A few months later, a stunning work of art emerged, and I knew we had found a way to produce something awe inspiring and unique.
We were encouraged to enter the Antonov An-225 into the Miscellaneous other than plastic category during the show and to our complete surprise and shock, the An-225 took third place during the competition. Using the techniques we had learned while building the award winning project, we set about establishing a system to create models of all types including cars, tanks, aircraft, and much more. We took on the challenge of building a large scale project for each yearly IPMS show while continuing to evolve our craft. Soon the Aluminum Air Force & Soda Can Models evolved from a past time or hobby into something far more. They had a life of their own and we knew it was time to share our passion for can building with the world. And so we kept building and producing highly accurate works of can art. Since then we have produced arguably some of the most stunning works of can art ever built including a six foot SR-71 Blackbird now hanging at Beale Air Force Base:
Our infamous and most ambitious Life Size R2D2 project:
So as you can see, both the Aluminum Air Force & Soda Can Models came about under unique circumstances and have taken on a life of their own. Our models and plans don’t look like anything else on the web. And that’s just the way we like it. Big things often have small beginnings and that’s the story of both sites. We’re not finished yet, not by a long shot.