I recently had the pleasure of hearing from the designer of the model A-10 I'm building himself, George Miller (seen above with his 1935 Ford). To say that Mr. Miller is an interesting man, and has done some interesting things, would be gross understatement! I think more than one model aviation enthusiast, not to mention movie buff, would love to have walked in his shoes, myself included.
Those of us who have built, or are building, the George Miller A-10 Thunderbolt II radio controlled model airplane might assume, as I did, that he is basically a die-hard hobbyist with a particular interest in the A-10, but has a means of financing his passion other than the hobby itself. His design for this plane first appeared in 1985 in Scale R/C Modeler magazine. I later discovered that he had designed a large number of model airplanes. It wasn't until very recently, though, that I learned he had turned his hobby into a successful business. Another false assumption was that it must have been Sunset Models, which I was aware had, at one time, kitted an A-10. As it happens, Sunset Models was never authorized to kit the George Miller A-10, but offered something close to it. Mr. Miller himself, though, had two businesses, "Custom R/C Aircraft" and "Model Art."
Quoting from some of the correspondence I shared with Mr. Miller…
I sold a complete line of fiberglass kits for 22 years--the A-10, F-4, T-38, F-8, YF-22 and Al-H Skyraider. There would have been more, but that was all we could keep up with. I would not have been in business for that long if I weren't supplying good stuff. I also showed up at around 15 different Fan Fly's all over the states every year. I've given lectures, wrote many articles and have my aircraft on the cover of about 10 model magazines.
At the same time, I was under contract with Industrial Light and Magic, which is the special effects division of George Lucas Films. (I will assume that you know whom I am talking about.) I designed, engineered, manufactured and flew on location the aircraft that you see in the major movies for 16 years. They used no one else. "Indiana Jones Chronicles," "Always," "Die Hard 2," "The Rocketeer," "Alive," "Cliffhanger," "Hot Shots," "Independence Day," "Star Wars Phantom Menace" and many more. I have built some of the largest R/C aircraft I know of…
I retired in 1998 at the age of 55. I sold the model aircraft business to… the owner of Iron Bay Model Company. The YF-22 is the only one [of my kits] he shows and… he says he is redesigning the Skyraider.
For a brief time, Mr. Miller and I saw the uncanny possibility of being closely related. "Miller" is his adopted surname. His birth surname is "Marsh," the same as mine. In addition, his father and my family were both from the greater Philadelphia area. It seemed possible that his father, whom he had lost touch with after divorcing his mother, could have been my grandfather, but it wasn't meant to be. After comparing other family names, though, it became clear that any close kinship was a remote possibility. Creepy, nonetheless!
Mr. Miller graciously provided me with a multitude of photos, posted here, and the authorization to give his contact information to anyone who might be interested. Click HERE to send him an e-mail.
I have had the distinct pleasure of hearing from many people who stumble upon my web site, including A-10 pilots and mechanics, but this was surely among the most unexpected and gratifying exchanges.
Click on the thumbnail images below for additional photographs from the noted subjects.