All aboard: Air Force retiree crafts model trains for 38 years

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Janelle Patiño
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
While other retirees get part-time jobs or travel the world, Ron Peterson chooses to build model train sets as a hobby. Peterson, a U.S. Air Force retiree, started making train sets in 1975 when he got stationed at Fairchild and later decided to retire here to continue doing what he loves most.

Even before joining the military, Peterson's passion was building plane models, home layouts, sceneries and trains.

"I've always wanted to build trains but didn't have a place to run them, however, I knew I would be able to someday," he said. "So ... I worked on trains and engines and painted details on them while I was stationed in Alaska."

When Peterson got stationed at Fairchild, he finally found a place spacious enough to "run" them.

"It's a nice feeling to build trains because after days of working on it, you get to see it go full speed around the tracks," Peterson said. "I feel a real sense of pride when I see other people appreciate my work."

While on active duty, Peterson found ways and places to do what he loves. Work never stopped him from building more train sets.

"I was working with the 92nd Air Refueling Squadron and I would visit the Arts and Crafts Center during my lunch hour and work on trains instead of going somewhere else to eat," he said. "People were nice enough to give me a locker and a table to work on so I'd go there and work almost every day."

After retiring from the Air Force in 1983, the commander of Fairchild at the time asked Peterson to come back and work as a civilian on base for the Air Show. Even working as a civilian, Peterson continues keeping up with his hobby during his free time.

"I took the job as the airfield manager for another 15 years," he said. "Even though I was working as a civilian, I would still go over to the Arts and Crafts Center and work on my trains just like I used to as an Airman."

After retiring again, this time as a civilian, Peterson can still be found at the Arts and Crafts Center working on his hobby.

"I like building trains because I like the meticulous work that most people can't stand," Peterson said. "I think it's a great therapy for me."

The Air Force retiree views hobbies as an important part to leading a balanced, happy and more productive life.

"Working on trains has a lot of aspects to it; you work on engines, build structures, sceneries and more," he said. "I like all of it."