Russian Modelers Seek Service in Salt Mines!
November/December 1963 American Modeler
short tongue-in-cheek article about the use of salt mines in Communist
countries like Romania for indoor free flight contests was written
in 1963, a time when the Cold War was in full swing, your neighbor
might have built a nuclear shelter in his back yard, and kids practiced
getting under their desks in the event of a wave of incoming ICMBs
tipped with MIRVs. In fact, the FAI world championships have been
held in Romanian salt mines a few times, and they will return there
in 2014. BTW, for those too young to remember, it used to be a common
joke to talk about sending someone to the Siberian salt mines as
a form of punishment.
Russian Modelers Seek Service in Salt Mines!
as any right-thinking person knows, is supposed to bear somewhat
the same invidious relationship to Life-under-Capitalism that an
old broken down GHQ (with no points) in some dark, forgotten corner
of a dirty basement does to the latest factory tuned O.S. Max singing
sweetly in the August sunshine. But we always figured that there
must be some advantage to living under Communism. We had almost
despaired of finding what it was, but now we think we have the answer.
"Hey, wait a minute," a little voice says. "Did
you say salt mines?"
That's right, salt mines!
But what do salt mines have to do with model building?
to illustrate, let's get back to the tag ends of my thumbnail sketch
of the short history of the difference between life under Communism
and Capitalism. A bad Capitalist, as every right-thinking person
knows, is a sort of robber baron who steals indiscriminately from
the rich and poor alike, goes to church on Sunday, is envied by
anyone who has one drop of American laissez-faire free enterprise
blood in his veins, and dies rich. In contrast every bad Communist
goes to Siberia or to the salt mines. Or both. That's the difference
between the two systems and it's also the reason why it is much
better to belong to the Capitalist system.
You make it sound
(the little voice again) pretty grim. It's not too grim because
there are also good Capitalists.
They steal only from the
rich, go to church on Sunday, found philanthropic foundations, are
not envied by nearly so many people, and die rich. No one ever wonders
what happens to a good Communist because, as every right-thinking
person knows, there are no good Communists.
Yes, but I still
-don't see what this has to do with building and flying model planes
Well, the point is this: When Ivan (that's our bad Communist)
is bad he gets his come-uppance in one of those salt mines.
So, for years everyone has been feeling very sorry
for Ivan, because work in the salt mine is very difficult. (Color
it White, Ivan, not Red.) But Ivan the Bad asked for it and he got
it. Of course, there are a lot of people, including some not so
bad Communists, who would like to help Ivan, but the salt mine is
part of the system, like City Hall. And you can't fight City Hall.
I suppose not. But what's the connection between salt mines
and model building?
I'm coming to that. All this work in
the salt mines is, naturally, very hard on Ivan. As you can well
imagine, the Ivans get used up at a terrific rate. Fortunately,
there are plenty of bad Communists to replace the old worn-out Ivans.
There's also a silver lining to every cloud, but no one ever saw
Why, the salt situation, of course.
Everyone had all the salt he wanted. No more tasteless caviar, no
more bland anchovies. The production quotas for steel might be lagging,
but not for salt.
But what about model airplanes?
Don't you see? When you take salt out of the ground it leaves
an enormous hole. Every time somebody in Minsk or Pinsk salts his
cabbage soup the hole gets bigger.
fly models in those salt mines. You're kidding!
fly smack-dab in those ever lovin' salt mines.
It may be
the nuttiest thing you ever heard of but it's true ... I swear on
my current AMA card and my tarnished Junior Birdman pin. Right inside
those old salt mines.
That is the nuttiest thing I ever heard of.
Let me tell you that it was some salt mine, too. This one is
in Rumania (not all salt mines are in Siberia) and from top to bottom
it measures 230 feet. And that makes it some flying site. All I
can tell you beyond that is that 45 indoor builders had a contest
there recently and that one of them, Otto Hinks, did 20:05 with
a small indoor model.
That's really something.
sure is. It also has tremendous political ramifications.
As almost every right-thinking person knows, we are perhaps
a couple of steps behind the Communists in the race for Outer Space.
Unless we start rigging salt mines in a hurry, they're apt to beat
us all hollow in the race for Inner Space as well.
only one solution, men ... To the salt mines!
Posted May 26, 2013