JS: How did you get
involved with model
RD: I was born
in Tokyo, Japan,
in 1934. At
an early age,
and I used to
At that time,
already at war
and because of
between the United
States and Japan,
advised by Ambassador
Joseph Grew to leave the
Downtown Tokyo was
having practice air raids
and aircraft were simulating
attacks on the city—probably
the same pilots who attacked
Pearl Harbor. Our family left
just weeks before the bombing
of Pearl Harbor. Because of a
Japanese nurse, I spoke Japanese
better than English.
JS: How has model aviation impacted
your life and/or career?
RD: We settled for a time in Richmond,
Virginia. I was walking downtown one day
and in the window of a hobby shop were
two Cleveland models built by a master
modeler. One was a Grumman Wildcat (our
principal naval fighter at the time) and the other
was a B- 25 Mitchell bomber. I will never forget
how beautifully they were made, and I told myself
that someday I would be able to build a model to that
degree of perfection.
JS: What disciplines of modeling do you currently participate in?
RD: Early on, I began to build models. Most of my models
were rubber-powered Comet or Megow stick-and-tissue
models. I felt lucky if one of them actually flew and knew I
needed to perfect my building. Very slowly, my building did
improve and I was able to build more complex models such as
the Thermic 50 and Thermic Floater designs by Frank Zaic. He
was one of the master modelers of our time, and was also one
of the best draftsmen when it came to drawing plans.
I feel building models is an art and is very similar to
sculpture. Since the age of six I have painted and built models,
and in many ways they require the same discipline. I have
become known for my nautical paintings, and I often make
Scale boat models to pose in unusual attitudes for rough-water
I have built models of almost every type except microfilm
Indoor models. From the 1940s on, I have built rubber-powered models, gliders, gas-powered models using the
beautiful Bantam engine, FF Rubber and Gas, CL, RC Scale,
Quarter Scale, and micro RC.
In the 1970s I won the North Carolina Scale Championship
with a scratch-built World War I British S.E.5a. At one time
I was art editor of Radio Control Modeler magazine, and
designed the logo for Micro-Avionics RC equipment.
The most pleasurable aspect of my modeling is actually
designing Scale and sport models. The process of building a
model and watching it fly is a pleasure that is hard to beat! I
am also very interested in natural flight such as the flight of
birds and butterflies … I’ve never seen one crash!
JS: What are your other hobbies?
RD: I greatly enjoy fly fishing for beautiful trout in a mountain
stream. Observing a master fly fisherman is a beautiful thing
to watch, and the jewel-like beauty of a trout is beyond
comparison—particularly a brook trout.
JS: Who or what has influenced you most?
RD: Nature has influenced me the most. In Philadelphia, I
had some great teachers in art school and was asked to teach
there, but nature is the great teacher. I will never tire of the
observation of nature in all its aspects—the complexity, the
color, the form, and the surprises.
Sit on the shore and watch a line of pelicans skim close to
the waves … amazing Art is the study of nature.
I have three sons—Scott, Mark, and Stuart—and, should the
reader want to see my work, Scott has designed my website at
www.robertbdance.com. My artist/wife, Coleman, and I live
near the coast in North Carolina where many of my nautical
paintings are based.
JS: How did you get involved in art?
RD: Art and painting are not hobbies for me. They are a
difficult and serious occupation which requires great discipline.
When I start a painting I never know if it will be completed to
Each painting is a different problem. There are no tricks in
art, and I seem to be more critical as I get older. So, as a hobby,
it is very nice to forget art at times and go outside and fly a
176 Model Aviation OC TOBER 2013 www.ModelAviation.com
Robert Dance Artist and illustrator