Handyman Wally Townsend's Piper J-3 Cub plane model finds perfect home

FLYING HIGH: Wally Townsend with his model Piper J-3 Cub proudly displayed in the Harbourside Haven recreation hall at Shoal Bay.
FLYING HIGH: Wally Townsend with his model Piper J-3 Cub proudly displayed in the Harbourside Haven recreation hall at Shoal Bay.

'I'm a jack of all trades and a master of none', is how 94-year-old Shoal Bay resident Wally Townsend describes himself.

A former professional fisherman, cook, bartender, crane driver, machine operator, earth mover and woodworker, Wally is also the resident handyman at the Harbourside Haven self care facility that has resided in with wife Lillian for more than 20 years.

So it was of little surprise to his many friends and fellow residents when he recently unveiled his latest innovation: a model Piper J-3 Cub aeroplane which sits proudly in the village recreation hall.

"I had been a member for many years at the local woodworkers club but was finding it difficult to attend, so I purchased the model plane as a Christmas present to give me something to do with my hands," Wally said.

"I had enjoyed making model boats in years gone by, but I had never attempted a model plane so I wasn't sure what I was getting myself into."

Wife Lillian chimes in: "I asked him how big the wing span was and he said 3 feet 6 inches, but the instruction booklet said 8ft 6in. He had misread the eight for a three."

Not one to be distracted by measurements, Wally ploughed on through countless painstaking hours to construct his masterpiece - complete with a pilot and co-pilot - within six months.

"It's made from balsa wood and most of the work involved cutting and gluing pieces together. The plane is designed to fly with a motor but I never bothered with that so I just inserted a dummy motor," Wally said.

The Townsends say the plane sat in the spare room of their villa for more than 12 months before a friend suggested they have it displayed in the community hall.

"I was quite surprised with the reaction from visitors. Many seemed to be quite impressed," said Wally.

One of those residents was Frank Ward, who was full of admiration of the 94-year-old.

"It's a magnificent model and Wally deserves all the accolades he gets. He's well known in the village as 'Mr Fix-it', if anyone has a broken piece of furniture or glass they call on Wally," he said.