Sky-high hobby an intricate affair

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SNOQUALMIE - It took Jeremy Fursman two weeks of painting, cutting and molding to create the two instrument panels of his model DeHaviland DH 82 A Tiger Moth biplane.

Emerging from his basement, proud of the intricate, accurate scale work he'd done, Fursman found his wife and showed her the fruits of his labor. The reaction Fursman received from Peggy, who has supported his hobby from the first days of their relationship, was likely not uncommon with many associated with building model airplanes.

"She said, 'That's great, but what else have you been doing down there?," Fursman said with a laugh.

So is the life of the model airplane hobbyist.

Fursman is the first to admit that the mention of his hobby to those unfamiliar with the activity often conjures up images of the small, noisy fuel-powered flyers attached to a string that the operator controls while spinning in a dizzying circle, or the model airplane kits children glue together and often hang from their bedroom ceilings.

In fact, Fursman explained, the hobby actually is one of research, attention to detail and a love of flying that people around the world embrace.

The Academy of Model Aeronautics , one of the world's largest sport aviation organizers, reports that its membership totals more than 173,000 people, and represents about 2,500 model aviation clubs around the globe. The group sponsors competitions, works to promote model aviation as an educational tool and even offers about $20,000 a year in scholarships.

In 1978 Fursman joined the legions of hobbyists taking to the air. The son of a Boeing engineer, Fursman said he always had an interest in flying prior to buying his first beginner model - a foam flyer held together by rubber bands and purchased with money from a summer job. Although he'd eventually earn a pilot's license of his own, Fursman stuck with the model airplanes, gradually honing his skills through the years.

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