by Alfred Riedel
On Tuesday, January 31, I was sitting with Jan Zdiarsky from Eduard in a restaurant near our hotel in Nuremberg. I was enjoying dinner and relaxing after a busy day, full of preparations of the stand at the fair. However, this relaxed mood was swept away by the news that hit me hard. Petr Šámal has died. He hadn’t been in good health for some time, but according to the reports I was getting, he had started to improve. So, it came like a bolt from the blue. After Petr Dousek and Radek Pavlíček, another great friend of mine had passed away ...
I met Peter sometime in late 1990 or early the following year. We were introduced by a mutual friend, my classmate Petr Šobíšek, at a model exhibition organized by the plastic model club Albatros. We got along in many things with “Šámi”, as we called him. Plastic modeling and interest in history were of course two of them. “Šámi” had knowledge as well as copious archives and was, like us, kind of “patient”. We became members of Albatros club and “Šami” became a bit of a mentor to us. After all, he was a bit older. Unlike me, a student at the time, and Petr Šobíšek, who was serving the alternative civilian service, “Šámi” was already making money and owned a car. Two years later, I started working at one MPM model shop in Prague while Petr Šobíšek was working at another MPM shop in a different Prague location. Thanks to his work at Prague Energy company (PRE), “Šámi” kept moving around Prague and very often stopped by one or the other store. A group of colleagues and their friends formed around both shops and “Šámi” was an important member of this group. At that time, he got a studio apartment in Písnice, so our group had a place to meet. Today I wouldn’t probably survive such lavish parties as those held there back then … We travelled together not only to attend model competitions, but also to do various trips including mountaineering. “Šámi” with his guitar, which he played with great skill, often took care of the entertainment. In fact, music was his other great hobby. Besides playing the instrument, he also collected records and his knowledge of good music was astounding.
But time passed, “Šámi” settled down, got married, had a daughter and later a son. His son was born just a few months before mine. So, we would occasionally meet up with our families, usually at a modeling contest. Unlike “Šámi”, who was still working at PRE, I left MPM to eventually return to Special Hobby. So, I was also seeing “Šámi” professionally, because in the meantime he had become the chairman of the plastic modeling section of SMČR (Modelers association of Czech Republic) and was dealing with sponsorship issues. He took over the plastic model section in quite a bad shape, but thanks to his dedication, organizational skills and knowledge, the functioning of it has changed for the much better. At the same time, he led the children model club in Písnice and raised many new modelers. He took care of the children like a little grumpy, but very caring babysitter. Unfortunately, he did not take similar care of his health, which had fatal consequences. “Šámi” left too soon. I miss him.
by Milan Mikulecký
Whenever someone passes away, everybody tends to remember them in a good way. In the case of Petr Šámal, it’s easy for me, I really experienced him only in a good way. And I think that everyone who knew him in connection with his passion – plastic modelling – has it the same.
I admit that I am not worth much as a modeler, the last time I finished a kit was some thirty-five years ago. When my children got to the age when it was time to start developing their fine motor skills, I had to admit self-critically that they would acquire rather negative habits under my guidance. Therefore, I called Vladimír Šulc from Eduard, saying that I would like to hire a modeler for my children who would introduce them to modeling in the twenty-first century. And Vladimír gave me the phone number of Petr Šámal, saying he runs a modeling club in Písnice near Prague. That’s how I first met Peter.
What surprised me there? First of all, the number of children attending the club. And then that even though today’s children have a different attitude to authority than we had, Petr and his colleagues managed to “discipline” them without any severe means. And most importantly, that even for teenagers, Peter was an unquestionable authority. I understood that running a modeling club is not just about building the kits, but also about weekends spent at modeling contests, looking for sponsors or negotiating with the owners of the premises where the club operates. Petr was the soul and the engine of it all. But it didn’t stop there, as Petr also organized trips to various museums. Once I had an opportunity to go with them, it was the trip from Točná to the Military Technical Museum in Lešany. A driver for the historic Dodge WC 52, which was to take us to the museum and back, send us a last-minute apology. Well, it was Petr who got behind the wheel, and he bravely tackled driving a car without a synchronized gearbox and many other conveniences of modern cars.
Peter, besides aircraft built in various scales, also liked the real ones. He himself used to fly in the Točná Aero Club, and when I offered him the opportunity to go flying, he did not refuse. Although a lot of time had passed since he himself had been a student pilot of Blaník glider, it was clear that he still had a feeling for flying. When he took over the controls, I did not have the slightest urge to correct his piloting in any way. We had the opportunity to fly together a Stearman, a Zlin C-305 or a Cessna C 180 in bush flying modification. Peter then surprised me, because he had bought each of these aircraft as a model, with the intention of building them in the exact livery we flew together. I don’t know whether he managed to realize his plan, the illness he eventually lost the battle for his life with came rather quickly (at least for me, as Peter didn’t talk much about his troubles) and in a form that caused him to be hospitalized in addition to the pain. I admit that we will all remember him as a tireless organizer with his typical smile. As a man who never refused help to anyone who asked for it.
I have three children myself and I know how challenging it is to take care of them, to teach them something and to anticipate everything they might think of. That’s why I have lot of respect and awe for people who are spending time and lot of effort with children who might be strangers to them in addition to their own. Peter was one of them. He led them to a love of history, to patience, and taught them a whole range of skills that neither school nor their family could provide. All this in his spare time and with no expectation of remuneration. In today’s performance, money and success driven world, he was almost a person from another time. Peter, we’re gonna miss you here.