Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Cumberland Lincoln 10-11-2018

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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6 THE VALLEY OCTOBER 11-17, 2018 | VALLEY BREEZE | CUMBERLAND LINCOLN EDITION CENTRAL FALLS – It's not out of the ordinary for those passing by 40 Cross St. to throw their vehicle into reverse to catch a second glimpse inside the garage of 84-year-old Herbert Hitchen. The conventional- looking shop in Central Falls is a treasure trove for tinkerers such as Hitchen, formerly of Lincoln, who inside builds everything from copper weather vanes to full-sized airplanes. It's the airplanes that first catch peo- ple's attention, Hitchen said. He's cur- rently fixing up a friend's yellow sport aircraft that was damaged in a crash, while working on his pet project of the last 25 years: building an aircraft from scratch. "Flying is quite boring," the former pilot told The Breeze. "Building some- thing is much more fun." About 25 years ago, Hitchen pur- chased a model airplane set, scaled up the blueprints and started constructing his plane piece by piece, himself plac- ing more than 25,000 rivets over the years. He's photographed the journey since day one to comply with the Federal Aviation Agency's 51 percent rule, which requires the builder to construct the majority of the aircraft. "I started about 25 years ago. At that time I said: well I've got all the time in the world, and now I'm turn- ing 85 in January and I don't have all the time in the world," he said. When asked what compelled him to build his own airplane, he simply answered: "Why not?" Though Hitchen no longer flies, he's determined to see the aircraft hit the skies before he dies. "Everybody is apprehensive about this, but it will fly," he said with confi- dence. "I will get it out of here." So, how does one go about building an airplane? "I don't know," Hitchen said, point- ing out a stack of books and maga- zines on homebuilt airplanes. "I really don't know. I just know I can do just about anything I want. If I want to do something, I do it." The mantra has been true for most of Hitchen's life. He joined the mili- tary at 16, got thrown out for lying about his age and joined again a year later, ultimately spending his 18th birthday in a foxhole in Korea. In 1954, he got out of the service and a year later married Janice, his wife of 62 years. At age 20, Hitchen went into the heating and air conditioning business, a relatively new industry at the time. Since then, he said he's worked a job in every hospital, armory and college in the state. "If I like the challenge, I'll work for the devil. If I don't like the job or I don't trust the person, I'll walk away," he said. Hitchen is driven by challenge, both personally and professionally. It drove him to start building his own aircraft about 25 years ago, and to create his first copper weather vane about five years later, a hobby he has since chosen to turn into a second career. Today, his Cross Street shop, called Lincoln Sheet Metal, creates and installs handcrafted weather vanes for businesses and homes across the state. Airplanes and weather vanes must both equally distribute weight in order to properly function. A weather vane shows the direction of the wind and must be able to spin to do so, creating a functional decorative piece displayed at the highest point of a building. "This one was a challenge," Hitchen says, pointing to a photo of one of his handcrafted weather vanes shaped like a B-52 airplane that had to be tied down during transport so that it wouldn't lift off the truck like a kite. "To me, I love it," he said. "Solving problems … this is fun stuff." Right now, Hitchen is working on building a weather vane shaped like a train, which he said he'd like to sell to a railroad buff. One of his favorites is a miniature model he created recently, shaped like the grim reaper. "I like this one," he said, laughing. "I'd have to find a weird person to sell it to." Nowadays when Hitchen is not spending time working on his weather vanes or installing one atop a home, he's likely fiddling with one of the air- planes that hang from the ceiling. "You know how people play golf, they fish, they do whatever they want?" he said of retirees. "This is what I do. This is my hobby." 84-year-old building his own airplane in local shop By NICOLE DOTZENROD Valley Breeze Staff Writer nicole@valleybreeze.com BREEZE PHOTOS BY NICOLE DOTZENROD HERBERT HITCHEN shows off the copper weather vane he recently made, inspired by a photo of a train he saw. HERBERT HITCHEN stands below the plane he has been building from the ground-up over the last 25 years, behind a copper weather vane he recently cre- ated inside his Central Falls shop. Michael's Meats Family Owned and Operated Since 1972 This Week's Specials Good From Thursday, October 11 TH -Wednesday, October 18 TH , 2018 Find out what's on sale at www.Michaels-Meats.com CUMBERLAND 2130 Mendon Road, 401-305-5555 FResh PRODUce FROM OUR Deli HOURS: Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m.; Saturday 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. WHOLE CELERY BUNCHES 5-LB. BAG RUSSET POTATOES LOCAL MACOUN OR MACINTOSH APPLES $ 7 .99 lb. FRESHLY SLICED, BOAR'S HEAD HONEY MAPLE HAM SATURDAY SPECIAL SATURDAY, OCTOBER 13 TH , 2018 only. FRESHLY GROUND, NOT TO EXCEED 18% FAT 5-LB. BAG, LEAN GROUND CHUCK TUESDAY/WEDNESDAY SPECIAL TUES. & WED., OCTOBER 16 TH & 17 TH , 2018 only. CERTIFIED ANGUS, EXTRA LEAN TOP ROUND SANDWICH STEAK $ 3 .99 lb. FRESH, GRADE A, WHOLE OR SPLIT CHICKEN BREASTS EXTRA LEAN, BONELESS, CENTER CUT PORK CHOPS OR ROASTS $ 3 .99 lb. $ 3 .69 lb. CERTIFIED ANGUS TOP ROUND STEAK OR LONDON BROIL FRESHLY SLICED, BOAR'S HEAD MILD PROVOLONE CHEESE $ 6 .88 lb. 1/2 GALLON APPLE CIDER $ 1 .59 lb. $ 2 .99 ea. 79 ¢ ea. FRESHLY SLICED, HORMEL GENOA DILUSSO SALAMI 2-LB. BAG, ALL PURPOSE YELLOW ONIONS 99 ¢ lb. 99 ¢ ea. $ 2 .99 lb. $ 4 .99 lb. FRESHLY MADE, APPLE CINNAMON STUFFED CHICKEN BREASTS $ 3 .99 lb. EXTRA LEAN, BONELESS PORK SPARE RIBS $ 2 .88 lb. MICHAEL'S BREAKFAST PORK SAUSAGE $ 2 .77 lb. MICHAEL'S ALL WHITE MEAT CHICKEN SALAD $ 5 .88 lb. FRESH, GRADE A CHICKEN LEG QUARTERS 69 ¢ lb. $ 1 .99 ea.

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