Scott Kimball remembers what it was like to be a 4-year-old who wanted an airplane so badly, he couldn’t sleep. Nothing as grand as a gigantic 747 or a sleek F-16 – just a model plane he could take to the nearest field and guide with wires.
“My father flew control-line airplanes, and I couldn’t wait to join him,” he said. “When I became old enough, I got all the airplanes I wanted. I’ve been doing this for 26 years, and the passion hasn’t left.”
Last February, Kimball and his friend Rob Schryver, who started flying model airplanes and helicopters about 22 years ago, opened Hobby World of Louisville (104 Vieux Carre Drive) to give other enthusiasts the kind of help that was hard to find back then.
“We had to find out everything ourselves,” Schryver said. “This is our opportunity to give back, whether our customers choose model cars, trucks, airplanes, helicopters, boats or rockets, so they can succeed with them. We started Hobby World to pay it forward.”
Their pledge includes matching each customer with the right vehicle, whether it’s a rock-crawling off-road car or a P-51 Mustang fighter plane. Hobby World employees can help set it up (or even build it from scratch), and give complete training for controlling it properly and safely.
“We don’t like selling a box and saying “˜Good luck,’” Schryver said. “Someone at a big store might sell you a nice vehicle, but will they come around the counter and show you how to drive it, fly it or fix it? We will.”
The impressive planes that hang from Hobby World’s ceiling – several of which are big enough to tempt their owners to ride on them, if not in them – testify to how sophisticated this pastime has become. Control-line models remain popular, but radio-controlled (RC) versions that run on batteries, gasoline or nitromethane ramp up the thrills. For as little as $89, fledgling Chuck Yeagers can launch aircraft made of stiff foam, or pay up to $40,000 for sophisticated fiberglass models.
To help aviators learn to fly their miniature RC aircraft, Hobby World has a televised flight simulation program that lets them practice using hand-held controls to send their vehicles skyward. That training is followed by real test flights in nearby fields.
“Here, they can crash all they want, then do better when they go outdoors,” Schryver said. “If anything happens, we have a full-service repair shop in the back.” The expert Hobby World staff includes Paul Matuszak, whose 3-year-old son, Andrew, already flies a small helicopter.
“Adults and kids alike love getting away from video games to have hands-on fun with models,” Schryver said. “We even have an indoor mini-Z-track next door so people can race their cars year-round. People rent it for parties, and we’ve taken it to schools, festivals and Scouting events.
“You can’t help smiling when you see these models in action,” he added. “If a customer isn’t having fun, we aren’t doing our job. But we haven’t heard a complaint yet.”
Hobby World of Louisville is open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 6 p.m. Visit ,www.louisville-hobbyshop.com or call (502) 749-7879.
photos by MARY ALAN WOODWARD | contributing photographer
Category: Business Profile