The Hearns Hobbies Story
The Hearns Hobbies Story: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia The Hearns by John Marquette "Hearns Hobbies went on...to become one of the best-known and highly respected hobby houses in the country. The many kits they designed...were built and flown in every state of the Commonwealth."
During the Great War of 1914-18 a young fellow named John 'Jack/Johnny' Hearn joined the Royal Flying Corps. This was the commencement of a dynasty that has been devoted to aviation - particularly models - for better than 70 years. Jack Senior had three sons - Jack, born in England in 1920; Keith and Bruce, about two years later and two years apart, both born in Australia. The earliest record of an interest in modelling is shown in a photo of Jack taken in 1923, holding a wire framed silk covered model aeroplane. Sadly Keith passed away in 1981, but brothers Jack and Bruce, Jack's son Norman, Keith's son Bruce and Bruce's son Geoffrey are all still actively and enthusiastically involved in aeromodelling. Another prestigious distinction the family has is they are all pilots - from the grandfather to the grandsons. The three middle generation boys, Jack, Keith and Bruce, all served with distinction in the Second World War as officer pilots. Jack was a flying instructor in the same unit where his two brothers trained. He later was to become Commanding Officer of a fighter squadron at Bougainville in the Pacific islands. Keith did his tour of duty in bombers and Bruce was a P51 Mustang fighter pilot. He also did a tour of duty in Japan at the end of hostilities. After the War the brothers decided, as well as their hobby, to make aeromodelling their career and accordingly opened Heams Hobbies. Both Jack and Keith were somewhat experienced as they had both been employed in the hobby trade in the 1930s. Hearns Hobbies went on, in spite of many frustrations from shortages of merchandise during the early years and a lot of very hard work and dedication, to become one of the best-known and highly respected hobby houses in the country. The many kits they designed, manufactured and marketed covering all disciplines of modelling were built and flown in every state of the Commonwealth. During the control line boom years of the 1950s and '60s, Hearns rather than a shop was more like a club, where everyone who was anyone would pop in to meet their friend and have a chat. The distinction of their first contest success went to Jack in the late 1930s. He won the first Wakefield trophy in Victoria. Later he won the first Radio Control contest ever held at a Nationals at Adelaide in 1950. Keith also was no slouch when it came to making and breaking records. I am sure he was the greatest modelling pioneer we have seen in this country and possibly are ever likely to see. Among his achievements was the World Height Record for Radio Control Aircraft, certificated by the F.A.I. He was the first and as far as I know the only person to fly a Dynajet powered radio control aircraft. His "Across the Bay" flights and his epic re-enactment of Kingsford Smith's flight, from Point Cook to Berwick were but a few of his many marvellous achievements. These three fellows had far too much knowledge and experience for it not to be put to good use. This was done by the R.A.A.F. who placed them on the reserve list of Officers to teach aeromodelling to the A.T.C. Cadets. A great deal of fine work was done here in moulding the youth and guiding them into worth-while careers in aviation. Many of our current airline pilots owe their start in aviation to the Hearn brothers. Hearns Hobbies is still an active and busy model business in Melbourne, but the brothers have eased themselves out into a more leisurely lifestyle. As Jack recently commented to me, "in spite of all the problems it is very satisfying to have seen the growth, advancement and sophistication of the aviation model world develop to the standard it is today."
Between the Wars
Post WW2 Hearn's Hobbies
Model of the 'Southern Cross' 'crosses' Port Phillip Bay