Finally coming in for a landing

Since the factories closed and Lockheed Aircraft Corp. left town, aviation-focused Tony and Addie’s Hobby Lobby has served as a reminder of Burbank’s airborne past.

Now, after more than 50 years, the little shop on Victory Boulevard is closing.

“The time has come,” said Tony Naccarato Jr., who took over the store after Tony Sr.'s death. “There are so many other things that I want to do.”

His parents ? Addie and Tony, who were both model-airplane connoisseurs in their own right ? started the shop in Burbank in 1951.

“She started because her brothers built model airplanes in the ‘30s and ‘40s, but would never finish them,” Tony Naccarato Jr. said about his mother. “Finally she picked one up and finished [it] herself.”

Addie Naccarato was drawn to the hobby, but convention made it difficult for her to pursue building the models.

“Nobody ever put ‘em in my hands,” she said. “I would reach for them and my hand would get slapped.”

Addie Naccarato met her husband after wandering into his hobby shop in Hollywood.

“That was in 1936,” Tony Naccarato Jr. said. “Then they started the whole career of model aviation.”

The couple opened the Burbank store in 1951, catering to local children, movie studios and Lockheed engineers.

“All the Lockheed engineers, before they built a full-sized airplane, would work on models,” Tony Naccarato Jr. said.

To get the supplies they needed for the models, engineers turned to Addie and Tony’s shop.

“I used to work at Lockheed and I would come here on my lunch break,” said John Burton, 70. “It was nice; you got a seat and could visit with Addie. There’s always somebody in here that you know.”

Addie Naccarato made a name for herself in the model aviation world, winning contests and designing planes. A model she made of the original Lockheed aircraft is now displayed in the company’s museum, Tony Naccarato Jr. said.

When electric model airplanes came out, Addie Naccarato’s design was the first to fly for an extended period of time.

“She beat all the engineers,” her son said. “They over-designed theirs and she kept her plane nice and simple.”

The hobby shop dedicated itself to educating local children about the mechanics of model airplanes.

“The nice thing about Tony is he gives you the plane and then he takes you out and shows you how to fly it,” Burton said.

Tony Naccarato Jr. runs a flying club at John Muir Middle School and he also runs the Black Sheep Squadron club, which meets weekly in the Sepulveda Basin. It’s a calling that he doesn’t expect to give up with the store.

“People today think they can solve the problem by pressing a button,” he said. “This really makes use your hands and think about what you’re doing.”

In retirement, Tony Naccarato Jr. hopes to continue teaching people how to fly model planes, and he plans to work on establishing model-aviation museums across the nation.

“Two of our airplanes will be going to the Smithsonian,” he said.

There are many regular visitors who will miss the store, including Addie Naccarato herself.

“You fall in love with them as you make them,” she said, surveying the planes hanging in the store. “They’re old memories is what they are.”

Tony and Addie’s Hobby Lobby, at 3512 W. Victory Blvd., is holding its first closing sale this weekend. For more information call (818) 842-5062.