Building the AMT Leif Ericson Galactic Cruiser Model


In 1978, just after Star Wars came out, I purchased the model kit "Interplanetary U.F.O Mystery Ship" and assembled it as good as any average 10 year old kid could. The Leif Ericson (the original version of this model)  was designed by Matt Jefferies. He  designed the Enterprise from Star Trek and other spacecraft on the original series. The model was released in the late 1960's. The version I had, however, was relabeled, "U.F.O. Mystery Ship" and was molded in a light green glow in the dark plastic. The model was part of my imaginal space adventures using the Galaxy Laser Team figures as some of the characters in my space fantasies. Unfortunately the model I built as a kid didn't follow me into adulthood. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the model had been nostalgically re-released in 2008. I ordered the model online and in a short time, I was building it in my studio in August of 2019. This is my photo blog of the build of the Interplanetary U.F.O Mystery Ship...

Opening the box...

On the model kit instructions there is a bonus story adventure about the Leif Ericson space craft...

The decals for the model give you options. The option I chose was the "weathered and battle damaged Pirate Ship" version...

Shuttle docking bay assembled.

Docking bay and doors installed. Hull and neck parts being assembled... 

Model and space shuttle fully assembled.

Time to weather and patina, enhancing hull details...

Adding the pirate decals...

The finished model with some special effects just for fun! I imagine the glowing aspect of the ship to be an "aurora borealis-like" phenomena – the ship's protective force shield emitting residual energy after warp speed.

Warp speed to adventure!

A look into the shuttle bay!

The shuttle emerges...


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The Rebuilding of RF-4 Phantom II (BuNo 153101)


"The whole is more than the sum of its parts." 

In May of 1981– when I was 13 years old – I was one of many in Ely, Nevada who witnessed the crash of an RF-4 Phantom (BuNo 153101) which sadly took the lives of it's pilot, 1st Lt. Peter Joseph Keenan and radar intercept officer 1st Lt. William Dewey Lauerman III. We were in school, late on a Friday morning –the period just before lunch – when out through the classroom windows, we saw an F4-Phantom flying very low over the school and out over the town where it attracted a lot of attention. Indeed, it was awe-inspiring to see an aircraft like this at such close range!  Unfortunately, the spectacle became a horrifying scene when the jet did an acrobatic maneuver – an aileron roll– over the distant hills and quickly bulleted nose down behind the ridge and exploded!  The school erupted into commotion as students and faculty were shocked by what had just happened. The principal got on the intercom to calm us all down, "As you are all aware we just witnessed a tragedy. There is nothing we can do about it. The authorities and emergency crews will do what they can. For now remain calm."
 During our lunch break we could still see smoke and flames emerging from behind the distant hills that adjoin Squaw Peak (a mountain range that overlooks Ely and the Steptoe Valley). As would be expected, when the military arrived, the public was kept away from the area while they did their investigation of the crash and to clean up the wreckage.

That night, which was typical at the time, a lot of us kids spent the evening roller-skating at the armory. I recall hearing REO Speedwagon's "Take it on the Run", Hall and Oat's, "Kiss is on My List", Cool and the Gang's, "Celebration" and the GoGo's, "We Got the Beat" a few times that night as we made our laps around the makeshift roller rink our town provided. It was very dichotomous. Earlier we had just seen something awful and now here we were having fun.

 About 2 weeks after the crash, my brother Marty and I decided to have one last adventure with our cousin Peter before we moved to Oregon. We wanted to  investigate the crash site for ourselves. So, we made our way just outside of town beyond the city landfill, sneaking our way into the area near the crash site. We climbed up the desert hillside hoping not to be seen by the military personnel who were still in the area. Either they didn't see us or, at this point, they didn't care we were there. Hiding in the sagebrush on a rocky outcropping, we looked from above, down onto a dirt road that entered a canyon. From there we could see a few military personnel, their vehicles, and a dump truck with charred sections of the plane wreckage clearly visible on it. It appeared they were about to leave the area soon as they were strapping down and tarping over the remains of the plane.  We silently made our way down the hillside, away from the area where the military crew were, into the shallow canyon and onto a narrow dirt road. We walked up the curvy road wondering where the crash area was. Nothing at first seemed unusual. It wasn't long, however, when it was obvious where the crash had occurred. We came upon an area of the canyon where the hillside was burned black, trees and brush scorched to charcoal and there was still debris and small sections of the plane remaining. The disturbing foul smell of the burned area was unforgettable. We spent some time with morbid fascination looking around and picking small up pieces of the plane. One thing that we saw still haunts me to this day– there were marking tags spiked into the ground, in various places, scattered about the area, with a biblical inscription on them. They indicated the location of where body parts were found. I will never forget that! 
 I don't recall how long we were there (maybe a half-hour to 45 minutes) but the sun was setting and soon it would be dark. Having collected some small pieces of the plane we made our way home. When we got there, Mom was not happy with us for going to the crash area instead of staying home to help her pack for our move to Oregon.  She made us throw away our morbid souvenirs. As an adult and a parent, I completely understand why.

A print of my illustration of BuNo 153101
Now that I am in my early 50's and have some perspective on what we had witnessed and saw at the crash site, I decided to face some of those haunted memories and work with them in a creative way. As a form of  therapy, I used my artistic skills to "reassemble" the plane in a literal way. I first painted an illustration of the plane doing a lot research using its bureau number (BuNo 153101) in the process. In so doing, I was able to find the history of this particular F4-Phantom as well as historical photos of the aircraft in it's various paint scheme iterations. When it crashed, it was painted in basic military grey like the other aircraft it was stationed with in El Toro, California.

Reference Photos I used for building and painting BuNo153101
 However, in 1976 BuNo 153101 was all decked out for the Bicentennial with it's "Spirit of America" design! Such a beautiful plane! I also discovered there was a model kit from Testors issued in the 1990's of that F4-Phantom in the "Spirit of America" color scheme. I was able to purchase the model from Rare Plane Detective (located in Cathedral City, California) and have it shipped to me in Oregon. When it arrived, I was a little nervous because there was some slight damage to the box. It had also been opened but upon doing an inventory I found that all but one small piece was there. The decals looked like they were in good condition but I made a high resolution copy of them encase there were age related issues. I could simply print up new ones if necessary.

Here is the box as it arrived at my studio, a little aged and crinkled.

Opening the box
Opening the box and doing inventory...

In pieces but not for long!
The plane is in pieces but I am going to fix it!

The cockpit and plane halves
Assembling the cockpit and gluing the fuselage halves together.

Fuselage and wings attached with base paint in process
The camera bay is assembled and attached to the fuselage. Wings are glued into place. I use One Shot Clear Coat spray as a primer so I can use acrylic airbrush paints instead of enamel model paints. There is a lot of sanding and repainting to make all the seam transitions smoother. This model has vague instructions on exactly where to glue parts together and I relied a lot on Youtube videos of actual F4-Phantoms to show me exactly where the parts – especially the landing gear –attached to one another. 

Adding panel details
I have attached the tail wings and painted in its heat shield at the back. At this point I am enhancing the panel details.

Masking and painting
I am now masking and airbrushing in the the black sections over the jet intakes, the white panels on the wings and the blue over the nose and around the canopy area.

Hand painted ribbon on the front of the plane instead of decals
The model comes with decals that are to be used for the red and white ribbon that goes down the nose and around the canopy.  I decided to hand paint that area instead –trusting in my paint abilities over the potential hassle the decals might create due to their age and the curving and rolling location on the plane's front section.

Painting and weathering the bottom side
The bottom of the plane is white but I also made sure it wasn't too clean by adding some areas of weathering and dirt.

Top side with slight weathering
I am now adding the decals which, to my surprise, slide into place quite easily considering they are almost 30 years old! I am also adding a little weathering to the top of the model at this point.

Time for the landing gear!
Time to tackle the landing gear!

And the drop tanks!
...and the drop tanks! Sometimes I find it easier to One Shot prime and base paint some of the parts before cutting them away from the part trees.

Landing gear painted and installed!
After a little hassle the landing gear are finally attached and painted!

Drop tanks getting painted before attaching to plane
Center line and outboard tanks glued together with paint in process and decals to follow.

RF-4 Phantom II
The canopy is the final section I attached to the plane. 

RF-4 Phantom II
Trying out a display option. I like the idea of a glossy wet look to the display base because it provides a reflective view of the plane's underside.

Final photo shoot without the ground crew which I will be adding soon.

RF-4 Phantom II
RF-4 Phantom II
RF-4 Phantom II
RF-4 Phantom II
RF-4 Phantom II
RF-4 Phantom II
For the most part, my model of the McDonnell Douglas F4-Phantom II (BuNo153101) "Spirit of America" is completed! It has been a fun project and a nice diversion during the pandemic. The last time I saw this plane it was in pieces and though there is no reasonable way to undo or fix the past, in a creative way, the mind has a way of healing past traumas. In gestalt therapy, " the whole is more than the sum of its parts". But also, without the parts there would be nothing to make up the whole, which is very similar to the Hua-yen way of seeing things! 

Of course, there is still more to go. I just received a 1/48 scale ground crew with pilots to add to the scene. I will update this blog with more pictures as I make progress with the ground crew and their tools! 

Some of the ground crew are hard at work doing maintenance on the plane...

RF-4 Phantom II VMFP-3 Eyes of the Corps
Custom made boarding ladder for pilot...

Illustration inspired by a low resolution photo of 1st Lt. Peter Joseph Keenan and 1st Lt. William Dewey Lauerman III about to board their aircraft.


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Yes. I was sitting in Holly's classroom when we heard it happen. I think about it from time to time.
-- Theresa Steiner, 12/17/23

Thank you Paul. Bill Lauerman was my brother.
-- Dan Lauerman, 10/27/23

Art, in and out of the box


As I quote myself from my website, "Art that shocks (or offends ) is easy — art that inspires is not." However, I do think art is not just about the aesthetically beautiful (though for me that helps). The gentleman in the video  seems to be coming at this from a very left brain structured — almost dogmatic way. Creativity is a right brained dominant function which has the ability to make connections outside of the netted structures of our left brain thinking. I do believe that there are a lot of talentless hacks out there posing as artists — even getting the praise of being an artist. One of the missions of art is to challenge the way people think and in some cases, push them out of their safety zones. To say that art belongs in a box — to have a certain criteria of measurement is like saying every piece of music should be like the classical symphonic works of Beethoven. What would that make of The Beatles, who turned rock music into an art form by Reinventing how it was recorded and presented? I think of art very much  like music — not everyone likes classical or opera.  Art is a multifaceted, wild creature that doesn't thrive in a corralled petting zoo. But then again I come from a place where I see myself more as a storyteller that has a talent for using pictures to communicate difficult ideas where words fail.


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The Geometric Lights


The Geometric Lights
     This is a dream that I had when I was about 6 years old and it is one of the earliest dream memories that I have. In the dream I am walking alone outside in the dark when I come across a caboose. As I stand there looking at the caboose, these four geometric lights emerge from it. The lights were primary colors.
      One of the lights scolds me, "What are you doing here? You aren't supposed to be here yet! Go back home little boy!" 
     This scares me and I runaway waking up in my bed. I had not been asleep for very long because when I got up and went into the living room, my Mom and Dad were still awake watching TV. I  tell my Mom about the dream. She explains that I just had a nightmare and that it is nothing to be worried about; it isn't real.
     "Just a dream?"............................Or just the beginning.........


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I really like small stories like these. Horrifying one i guess <a href="">stained glass studio</a>
-- Untente, 3/30/17

The Dream of the Paranormal Girl


...I am watching, and at times, in a horror movie. The movie is about a little girl who has paranormal powers. Her little brother went missing but somehow she is able to feel what he is feeling. However, her way of expressing it usually involves turbulent weather, or plagues of insects and such. It is quite intense. At one point in the dream I am with her family in their home but for some reason we are sneaking around. We are climbing down from this cabinet/cubby hole while the little girl is holding what looks like a silver trident/candelabra. As I climb down near the little girl, I accidently get scratched by the trident/candelabra on my left arm. I can also, somehow, hear a film critic reviewing the film while am in it. He comments on the symbolism of the silver trident mixed with an everyday household item. The parents of the little boy are obviously very distraught over their missing child. We are in a living room and I am leaning against an old TV console from the 1950's. I don't know if its a good thing that the little girl can feel what her brother feels; it could mean he is still alive, but in a lot of pain or he is dead and is now a tormented spirit. I feel very sad for this family and begin to cry as I lean on the TV which has wheels causing it to move about the room...


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Human Kites: A Dream from the Spring of 1990


Back in the spring of 1990 I am dreaming that I am with a group of people I work with from Tom Peterson's Stereo Super Stores. My supervisor Steve had earlier collected fallen flower petals from the streets of NW Portland. He tells me he plans to make a stir fry with them. Now this group from work and I are walking down this large dark tunnel toward the exit. As we approach the exit I get a giddy feeling and announce, "I'm going to make a run for it!" I take off running and as I jump out the large archway door I see a magician standing by the entrance. Outside there is a large field of grass. The sky is overcast and in the distance is a rainbow supported by the kind of trusses one might see holding up a billboard or drive-inn movie screen. All the others have made it out of the tunnel and are standing out on the grass with me. There is a strong wind that I discover will lift me up off the ground a few feet if I lean into it at the correct angle. The others see me do this and try it for themselves. We are all hovering off the ground a few feet like kites in the wind. It starts hailing but it doesn't hurt as it pelts us. I feel very exhilarated and when I wake from this dream, a euphoric feeling stays with me for several days....
*This dream would be the start of many inspiring dreams that would find their way into my storybook.


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A Terry Gilliam-Like Dream


... I am in a concrete room that has a raised concrete section toward one wall, but not against it, creating a narrow alleyway in the room between the slab and the wall. In this room I am watching a man being confronted by another guy who is upset that he did not get the picture-hanging hooks that he wanted. The first man is apologetic and offers a curtain hanger hook in its place to hang up the picture the other man wants to hang of his daughter. But apparently this is not good enough so he grabs the hook and throws it across the raised platform to the far wall. The first man is now more scared. The second guy begins doing an aggressive posturing dance and does a rap song in preparation to beat up the other man. My point of view at this point in the dream is from the perspective of the scared man. I close my eyes and wait for the beating. However, I decide I must talk my way out of this. I open my eyes and try to say something to the other guy but my voice stammers and I stutter trying to find the words that will save my ass.
 Now I am no longer in the point of view of the scared man, but instead watching it again from a short distance away. Another man walks into the room to help the angry guy beat up the other guy. I am now back in the dream as a husky, but geeky, blond guy wearing white clothes. The scared man turns into a small white disc that tries to hide on a countertop table behind a glass jar. The disc pleads, " I'm just living for the future. Please don't hurt me!" 
I (as the geeky blond guy) grab the disc and throw it across the room where it bounces off the walls, flies out the archway door and falls down a storm drain. I do this to help him escape. Needless to say the other two guys are not happy about this. I go outside and crawl into the storm drain to find the disc and hopefully rescue the man so I can turn him back into a human being. I have to crawl on my belly using my elbows to move along as I make my way through the shallow water. I know that the other two guys will be following me trying to find the disc first. I continue to crawl in the underground storm drains, water rushing underneath me, and find my way into a larger room that looks almost like a theater. There is a stage with a bluish backdrop where women on swings go back and forth in the air. Walking around on the ground are men wearing snorkels, flippers and tight swim shorts. It turns out that this is a Terry Gilliam movie and the men with the flippers and snorkels are representing sperm cells. I get the impression that the "disc man" is in here somewhere and I am seeing a theatrical representation of his conception implied by the women on swings and the snorkeled men that walk around below them. It turns out that Penny Marshall is in this movie and she's playing a queen or something of the sort. She is also on a swing and is wearing gaudy makeup with jewels stuck to her face. She's old, but very comical in this scene...


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A Carlos Castaneda-like Dream Experience in Space


... I am listening to the great Alan Watts as he talks about these hard to explain galactic creatures that are either so huge that they cannot be understood or perceived by humans or super microscopic in size or, maybe both. I get the impression that they are super giants spanning multiple galaxies. They look like stringy thread-like tubular beings all attached to each other in outer space. They also look somewhat like squids but more stiff; almost like nerve cells connected together. Sometimes these creatures collide with other creatures that are sharper and more angular than themselves. This causes some kind of confrontation where there is a cutting apart of the other beings. 

The scene changes and I'm observing an ocean at night with a Saturn-like planet rising in the sky. Alan Watts continues to explain how there was never a time when the universe wasn't. He explains that its like inhaling and exhaling, coming into existence and going out of existence. It is like the tide going in and out. This is the way the universe lives and breathes. The Universe expresses itself in this way from macrocosm to microcosm. 

Then it turns out that I am in space without a spacesuit floating with another guy. I get the impression that he is a space explorer of some sort. We grab a hold of a small planetoid about the size of a car that is covered in craters and is shaped somewhat like a skull. I ask the man where this planetoid came from. He tells me it was discovered near Jupiter. The man takes an Xacto-knife and cuts a triangle into the surface of the planetoid. It is like cutting into bread. He tells me that there is no life forms to be found but I can still see there is a membrane that can be cut through. I tell him to cut deeper. He does so and then there is a sudden gust of gas and an electrical sensation that stuns my arm. Inside I can see these glowing blueish orbs connected together. Then, we can hear the sound of a woman talking about there being a breach in the system. Apparently the planetoid is actually a spaceship in disguise. A space woman dressed in a 1950's science fiction astronaut suit emerges from the planetoid . She and her planetoid spaceship float away together in a place that is both outer space and that area in Scappoose, Oregon near the Pizza Vendor...


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Here's food for thought.



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Lucid Dream of the Premanifest


 December 2, 2011

         ...I am in a hallway of a Victorian building. The hallway is narrow with doors lining it like in a hotel. I have the impression that I am dreaming and want to get outside to fly. I come to a corridor with turret-like rooms with windows. I realize the windows are actually mirrors and not a way out. I know there is a way out for me. I then see a round hole on the floor and for some reason dive toward it. I am flying down a tunnel at a very quick rate of speed. I don't know where this will take me but feel that this is a Shamanic experience, one that needs to be undertaken. I fly out into another dimension–another world linked to the waking world. As I fly, it's as if I am swimming through the air with my arms.  The sky is a twilight purple as I fly over a group of other beings... other students. I then bank to the left and fly through an orchard with trees that contain some sort of glowing fruit. Somewhere, nearby, there is a Buddha and I can sense it transmitting a teaching to me. I can see the Buddha in my mind sitting in meditation posture. He tells me I don't have to use my arms to fly. I relax my arms and I continue to fly over the orchard effortlessly. The Buddha answers my question before I ask. “You are in the premanifest. It's the place where dreams take form before they manifest in the waking world.”

          I then recall a dream from earlier where I am on a boat traveling down a river, similar to the Hudson River in New York and the Columbia River. A fire department boat is spraying water like a fountain into the air. As we cruise by, I see a shaman, painted in blue, walking on the water. As we get near the shore another blue shaman is yelling obscenities at me. I realize this is his teaching and I am not offended by it. Apparently that is the point–to not be offended or touched by words.

          I am filled with an intense sense of excitement and joy to be here. I land inside of a school where other students are. I see Stephanie and she seems to be as awestruck as I am. “Can you believe this?” she says.

          “It is incredible! We have to remember this when we wake up!” I say.

          “Definitely!” She responds.

          “Remember not to forget this. We have to remember this when we wake up!”

          Just then we see Derek from work who also seems to be a mix of my friend Nick from high school. He is carrying some antiquated measuring and calculation devices including some scrolls. He also has a transparent globe that symbolizes, in a model form, the connection between this place and the waking world. I am trying to remember what this place is called and I know the name but it eludes me (later when I woke up, the name came to me, the Kunzhi Namshe). We all agree to remember the dream when we awaken.

          I sense the lucidity fading and think I have woken up in the waking world. I see Stephanie and Derek. I ask them if they remember the experience of being in the dream domain. They both said they remembered, but Derek said some of it wasn't quite clear now....

          I then wake up and realize the previous exchange was a false awakening. Yet, I am filled with a pleasant sense of residual joy and awe from being lucid in the dream...


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Previously published:

 The myth is the public dream and the dream is the private myth. 

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