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DISCOVERIES : Taking a Stroll Through an Attic of Aviation

June 25, 1993|LANCE THOMPSON

Browsing through the Nostalgic Aviator is like strolling through the attic of aviation. In this Burbank gallery dedicated to our fascination with things that fly, owners Scott and Lynn Whitmire have gathered aviation collectibles from every era.

The visitor's eye is drawn from a B-52 control yoke to World War II aircraft ID flash cards, from an F-86 instrument console to vintage nose-art painted on aircraft panels. "We like to offer our customers one-of-a-kind pieces," Scott says.

Leather flight jackets and children's collectible pedal-planes vie for space with aviation books, videos and art, including a few rare photographic portraits of Amelia Earhart by her personal photographer, Albert Bresnik. They also feature original works by manufacturer's artists, who create art for industrial presentations, much of which is rarely available to the general public. Prices range from about $5 to $5,000.

The gallery moved west from its original home in Alexandria, Va., in 1989, and the Whitmires took it over after it became ensconced in West Hollywood. They relocated to Burbank in December, 1991--on the 50th anniversary of Pearl Harbor.

The Whitmires come by their aviation interest naturally. Lynn's father, Jim Miller, was a career aviation engineer, first at General Dynamics, then with Lockheed. Scott's uncle, Carl, was a model builder for Grumman Aircraft, and his mother, Vivian--who wasn't an aircraft designer--submitted an idea that was adopted by the Army to improve the A-24 attack bomber. Prominent in the Whitmires' collection of autographed photos of aviation celebrities--from Chuck Yeager to YF-22 test pilot Dave Ferguson--is a picture of 5-year-old Scott holding the model of the A-24 his mother redesigned.

The Nostalgic Aviator, 1012 Hollywood Way, Burbank. Open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday. (818) 558-7870.

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