Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Octogenarian's Hobby Takes Him on Flights of Fancy

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Octogenarian's Hobby Takes Him on Flights of Fancy

Article excerpt

At 80 years old, Norman Amper's life could easily be mistaken for that of a younger man.

The O'Hara resident volunteers three days a week at UPMC St. Margaret. In the evenings, he ushers guests to their seats at the Consol Energy Center.

"I do it to get out of the house and keep moving," Mr. Amper said. "A moving target is harder to hit."

When his day winds to a close, he drives home to a stylish, modernly decorated apartment -- one you might expect young professionals to call home instead of two doting grandparents.

Adorning shelves and tabletops and hanging from the ceiling in the living room is evidence of another youthful aspect of Mr. Amper's life: more than 100 model planes.

He can name every Boeing B-17, British Spit Fire, F16i Israeli jet and the other World War II planes that decorate the home.

Three years ago, Mr. Amper, a retired owner of a closed circuit television security company and a 32-year veteran of the scrap industry, began toying with the planes he once wished to operate.

"I've always been interested in flight," he said. "I'd go to the air museum in Dayton and in Washington and I'd be in glory."

He built models as a child and his interest in getting back to his hobby was spurred by a visit to the home of a friend of his brother's while on vacation in Arizona.

The man had a room full of models adorning the walls and in every possible niche, and Mr. Amper decided he, too, wanted to get back into the craft.

The hobby took flight after a donation from his wife, Esther.

"She was gracious enough to let me use part of the dining room table as a workshop," he said.

Mrs. Amper, who called her husband's hobby "fabulous," said she's happy that he's into something that requires more brain power than sitting on the couch with a remote in his hand.

Now, in his spare time, when he isn't cringing at the sound of Lady Gaga at the Consol Energy Center or cheering on his beloved Penguins, Mr. …

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