The other side of the treeline - Joe Krush

Written by Rachelle Haughn Rachelle Haughn interviews Joe Krush The other side of the treeline As seen in the Summer 2018 issue of Park Pilot

Meticulous details are often required to build indoor, lighter-than-air model aircraft. For Joe Krush, spending hours and days creating works of art is what he’s accustomed to and what he enjoys. As he approached his 100th birthday in May of this year, Joe, a renowned illustrator, reflected upon his life, which has been filled with personal and professional achievements.

Joe, a member of the East Coast Indoor Modelers, works on one of his aircraft at the club’s indoor flying site in Lakehurst NJ in 2010. Photo by Max Zaluska.

Rachelle Haughn: How long have you been an AMA member? Joe Krush: As long as AMA has been in existence, I guess. [AMA was established in 1936.] I [first] belonged to the AMLA (Airplane Model League of America). I built my first kit in 1931. It was a kit by Wanner & Company, a Baby R.O.G. RH: When did you learn how to fly? JK: I’ve been flying model airplanes, I guess, my whole life. About 60 years ago, I got into RC. I flew indoor models with the Valley Forge Signal Seekers (I’m a founding member) and flew with the East Coast Modelers indoor club. I was a member of the PMAA (Philadelphia Model Airplane Association) from 1933-1935. I got interested in competing in the 1990s. I went to East Tennessee State and competed for three years [in the AMA Indoor Nats]. I belong to the Scale Old Timer Society (of Philadelphia). I still go out to the Valley Forge field every day, but I don’t fly. I help people see what’s wrong with their airplanes and help them. I help with the local Science Olympiad group that meets at the Welsh Valley Middle School. I’m for more members taking care of their own schools. [Club members] need to try to build something, find out what the problems are, and go back and help [the students]. They’re just waiting to be helped! RH: What’s your experience with building and flying small, indoor model aircraft? JK: I’ve built a lot of them, I’m sure. I started with a simple rubber band-powered elevator glider. I flew with escapements in the Nats and did a touch-and-go once. I did indoor RC. I got a design from someone in Lakehurst. I built model boats, too, until about 15 years ago. I’ve always liked to fly.
(L-R) Doug Barber, Tony D’Alessandro, and Joe Krush at the Delaware Valley Federation Rise Off Ground Event. This photo was originally published in the May 1987 issue of Model Aviation.

RH: How long did you compete in indoor Free Flight? JK: I competed for three or four years in the Indoor Nats. One year, I got first in Ornithopter and Mini-Stick. I beat Bruce Holland by 1 second, which he never let me forget. I recommend the hobby highly and that you build your own aircraft.
This photo of Joe was taken in 2008 at the Lakehurst flying site. Zaluska photo.

RH: Were any of your model aircraft designs ever published or kitted? JK: One did appear in Frank Zaic’s book, 1959-61 Model Aeronautic Year Book. It was the first RC model I built. [The model was a low-wing RC. Joe also illustrated the cover of the book.] RH: What’s your secret to living to be 100? JK: You need a solid-gold guardian angel. I really wish I knew. I had a heart bypass at age 75. I was a figure skater until age 75 and a swimmer. I think keeping active—keeping active with the kids (in the hobby).
Joe’s son, Jay, took this picture of his father, shortly before his 100th birthday.

RH: How do you plan to celebrate your 100th birthday? JK: I was hoping for no party, but I teach an art class and they’re throwing me a party. They’re a wonderful group. I have more of a reputation as an illustrator. I illustrated The Borrowers, record album covers for about 12 years, about 50 children’s books, and spent 32 years freelancing for Reader’s Digest. RH: How has your history as an illustrator come into play with building model airplanes? JK: I draw up all of my plans. Occasionally, I give talks on colors to use on airplanes. I recommend never painting them green. You can’t see them landing!
Joe Krush lent his illustration and model designing skills to the 1959-61 Model Aeronautic Year Book by Frank Zaic. Joe drew this cover of the book and designed an airplane that is featured in it. This copy belongs to the National Model Aviation Museum.

In addition to Indoor Free Flight, Joe Krush enjoys flying RC aircraft. This photo of him and his RC biplane was taken in a gym in Abington PA.

This photo, taken in 2007, shows Joe with his Cabin model..

Joe and his wife, Beth, are pictured at an Indoor Nats in Johnson City TN. Beth was also an illustrator and passed away in 2009.

Joe proudly displays his Pennyplane biplane in Lakehurst NJ in 1998.

Joe proudly displays his Pennyplane biplane in Lakehurst NJ in 1998.

Joe is still a member of the Scale Old Timer Society. He is pictured in front in a black shirt at the group’s banquet.

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Mr. Krush was one of my favorite teachers at the Philadelphia Museum College of Art in the 1950s. We both built models and I have had models and articles published in Model Aviation ( October 2013 ). Several years ago I wrote Joe and I am so happy to see that he is still vital and pursuing the hobby. Joe also did illustration work for Reader's Digest and several books with his wife Beth. I would love to contact him again if you would email me his address. I am now 84 and Joe is 100.....CONGRATULATIONS JOE !!! Robert Dance

As a member of the Valley Forge Signal Seekers, I have often seen Joe arrive at the field to watch the planes. I usually walk over to his van and chat with Joe. He's always interested in our planes.
Sometimes Joe's son Jay drives, and Joe rides along. Jay is a professional musician, and I enjoy chatting with him, too.


Enjoyed your meeting show and tell back in 1982. I went on some 30 years later to get into indoor duration with my son. Having a blast flying F1D and A6 since then. Thanks for taking the time with youth to build their interest in the hobby over all the decades!

Don Szczur

Good to see Joe again, I remember seeing him in the mid to late sixties when i went to the field near the quarry with my dad Bill Wetty who i think was also a founding member. My dad passed away in 2012. I can only hope i will still be involved in RC anywhere near as long. Currently a member of the Wireless Aircraft Sport Fliers in South Jersey. Great memories.

Met Joe in 2009 while preparing students for a Science Olympiad event. I spoke over the phone and he invited us to his home and he spent 4 hours of his time teaching us the art of rubberband powered flight. After making several planes, we met with Joe and his club to fly where we learned to art of trimming the planes. The Science Olympiad team went on to win several years of competition. Thank you, Joe!

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