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Author Topic: Caprice book text  (Read 55423 times)
Bob Hunt
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« on: August 27, 2015, 05:29:54 AM »

Hi all:

The following is the text for a book I wrote about my Caprice design. I had hoped to actually produce a "real" book with photos and illustrations, but time may not permit that. I hope that you enjoy this book as it is more than just a construction article about the Caprice, but rather a chronicle of my earliest years in competition stunt, and a tribute to a few amazing people who helped me along the way.

Note: For some technical reason the entire text was not able to be posted in this message. I'll post the remainder of the text in two additional messages.

This book is humbly and gratefully dedicated to Bill Simons and Gene Schaffer, two fiercely competitive and divinely gifted Stunt Fliers and Model Builders, who instilled in me the love of a sport that will endure the length of my life and beyond.

By Warren Tiahrt

Bob Hunt breaks new ground with this story. George Aldrich broke new ground back in 1951 with a two part story of the Nobler. Bob Gialdini broke new ground with his comprehensive story of the development of his Olympics. Bob Hunt gives us a few chapters of an autobiography while telling the story of the Caprice from initial conception to the final construction details of his second Caprice. He gives us a real insight into his teen age admiration - or is it hero worship - of Gene Schaffer and Bill Simons, the two stunt fliers who were most influential in lighting the competitive fires that continue to burn brightly. Their friendship grew into a mutual bond that remains intact today.
The Caprice is a bit of a fooler. At first glance, it appears to be just another pleasant looking stunter with no single feature to set it apart from several other models from the late '60s except that it has that certain something that allows it to be an exceptionally good flying model. I have watched Bob win the Classic Stunt event at the 2003, 2004 and 2005 Nats, the Vintage Stunt Championships in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 and finish right behind Bill Werwage at three other VSCs. At least five of these events were flown in some very nasty winds and the Caprice was without peer. In addition, John Callentine, Frank McMillan, Bill Rutherford, Kenny Stevens, Buddy Wieder, Roger Wildman, Jerry Silver and several others have Caprices that display the same excellent flying characteristics and are very highly thought of by their owners.  Could it be the "Secret Moments?  I can't say for sure of a "secret," but there is something “special” about the Caprice.
Try one, I think you will like it.

Warren Tiahrt       


The story of a model airplane is oft times more than simply a chronicle of how it was built and how it flew. Sometimes there is a saga involved; a recounting of a significant segment of the journey of life for a particular modeler, and the story of the people, places and experiences that formed his or her path towards becoming a lifelong devotee of the art and sport of model building and flying. This is the case with the story of the Caprice.
   I had not planned to revisit this design. It was a defining model from my youth and one that greatly helped in carrying me farther down the road to becoming a successful CL Stunt competitor. Until recently, I just remembered it fondly as one small piece of a very large puzzle that I struggled to put together to achieve an ultimate goal. Now I realize that there is no ultimate goal in the sport of Stunt flying, or in any other sport for that matter. Stunt, like everything else in life, is truly a journey, not a destination. The perfect model will never be designed, and the perfect pattern will never be flown.
   I came to realize that the days and years in which the Caprice was the focus of my personal journey through the sport of stunt were among the very best I’d known – or would ever know - in almost every respect. I was the most interested then. My senses were constantly piqued to learn and absorb. The modelers who would become the heroes of my life were performing at their best, giving me far more than adequate inspiration. Whatever it is that makes us choose a path in life had convinced me that this was the one that I would surely follow.
   As you will read in this book, the thought to build again the Caprice was not my idea. A new friend I had met along the journey’s path convinced me to revive the memory and place it once again on paper so he could reprise it for competition in the Classic Stunt event. Even then I had no thought to actually build another example of it for myself.
   I opened the faded folder that contained the cardboard templates that were used to create the shapes of the original model, and as the familiar lines of the design began to connect on the drawing board, waves of nostalgia hit me. Memories that had been absent from my thoughts for many years came rushing back as each element of the Caprice took shape again. Yes, I would send the plan to my friend who wanted so much to build this design, but I decided also to take a step back into my youth and relive the experiences by constructing one of my own.
   Unless you have a prescription for a really wonderful pair of rose-colored glasses, a trip like this one might well be wrought with disappointment, and maybe even a little embarrassment. If the model was not everything that I remembered it to be some thirty-nine or so years ago, then the wonderful memories of the people and the events might also be diminished in my thoughts. This, I reasoned, could be a trip I might well regret.
   Fortunately, the airplane was not a disappointment. It was a revelation. I’ve often written and spoken of my belief that the smaller CL stunt models are more fun to fly. The first flight on the new Caprice reinforced that thought mightily. I won’t go so far as to suggest that the smaller models fly better than the larger ones, but I will present the argument that if a model is fun to fly, then you might fly it better, and more often, than one that isn’t. A subject better left to another time and document, I guess…
   It became very clear to me as this project progressed that there is no way to tell the entire story of a given model in an average length magazine-type article. There the author is constrained to but 3,000 or so (usually less) words. He or she can focus on one or two aspects of the project in detail, or give a general - but extremely abbreviated - overview of the whole project. A telling of the entire story in detail is just not possible. When you throw in the components of how the model came into being in the first place and how it fit into the fabric of the time in which it was originally produced, it’s easy to see that we never really understand or know the whole story of a published model airplane.
   I decided to take a new path with the telling of the story of the Caprice. I wanted this document to include every construction detail, certainly, but I also wanted it to capture the feel of an era and convey a large portion of the history of the sport in my local region in a specific timeframe. I needed to fill in the fabric of the history that I knew about, if only to finally fully understand where I came from, and how I got to the place I am now. Yes, writing this book was something I had to do, even if it would never be read by anyone other than me.
   It is my sincere hope that you will find the story of the Caprice worthy of the time it takes to read. I further hope that you will gain an insight to the dedication and genius of those who inspired me to build and fly CL stunt models in the first place. More than anything else I wanted to pay great and humble tribute to a few of the greats of our sport and let you see them through the wide eyes of a young man who desperately wanted to become part of this amazing fraternity.
   My final hope in writing about a particular model design, in this somewhat different format, is to inspire others who have similar stories to take up the loom and add to the fabric from their own unique perspective. If enough choose to do this, then we will eventually have a rich and complete blanket of stunt history that will live on and inspire others for years to come. – Bob Hunt  


Chapter One

“The Corner”

In 1965 I was consumed with trying to become a competitive control line combat flier on the East Coast, or at least as consumed as a seventeen-year-old could be while just a junior in high school. What I really wanted to do was become a competitive CL stunt flier, but that seemed like a far too lofty goal at my age and experience level. Still, each year while attending the annual May 30th contest, hosted by the Union Model Airplane Club, I would find time between my combat matches (or after I had been eliminated…) to stand outside the spectator barrier and watch the stunt fliers compete.
   The East was a virtual hotbed of stunt activity in those days, and there were usually so many contestants entered in the Memorial Day meet at Union that only one flight per pilot was possible. On the eastern stunt contest circuit, a win at Union was held in high esteem, second only to winning or placing at the Nats.
   The list of names of those who competed in that annual meet reads like a Who’s Who of Eastern -- and in some cases, National -- Stunt History. I remember watching Ron Pavloer (designer of the very famous and entertaining Bi-Slob), Artie Meyers, Harold Price, Bob Lampione, Bobby Miller, Billy Simons, John D’Ottavio, Eddie Elasick, and many others of note, fly beautiful patterns in competition at Union. It was a treat beyond compare for someone who desired to one day fly in the stunt event.
   There was one pilot, however, who in my mind eclipsed them all with his talent, level of intensity, and sheer will to fly the very best. I’m speaking, of course, of the great, and even legendary Gene Schaffer.
   All I had heard about back then was how spectacular this Schaffer guy was. I hadn’t seen him fly up to that point, but his “press” was just amazing. The first time I saw Gene compete, he was flying a jet-styled model that was built around one of the very first foam core wings from Mike and Arnie Stott’s Mankato, Minnesota based Foam Flite Company. The model Gene was flying that day had tricycle landing gear with no spats or simulated doors, and a very simple white and orange paint job with just a bit of black trim. It was extremely spartan in appearance, but also very business-like. Those early foam wings were not cored out internally, so they were prone to be a bit on the heavy side.
Gene, like almost everyone else in the stunt event in those days, used the ubiquitous Fox .35 for power. His style was unlike all the others, however, in the manner in which he chose to run the engine. Most opted for a deep, two-four break, and a slow pattern presentation. Gene liked to run the engine much harder and at a higher RPM, and consequently at a higher airspeed.
Gene also flew in the opposite direction from almost everyone else because he was left-handed. His level laps were flown in the clockwise direction. In those days mufflers were not used, and with the exhaust outlet pointing in the “other” direction, Gene’s models had a unique and very quiet sound while in a downwind maneuver because the fuselage blanketed the noise. This gave his models an eerily smooth presentation in relation to all of the others that were much louder downwind. This may seem like a small thing these days, but it was a significant factor with the “open stack” engine operation back then. Of course, when Gene’s model passed by the judges upwind, the exhaust outlet was on the outside of the circle and at that point very close to the judges. The pronounced, sudden and very loud “wowww” produced as the model passed the judge’s position really woke them up! In an event where being different is difficult, Gene had some automatic advantages, and he knew how to use them to best effect.
Anyway, I finally got to see Gene fly that day for the first time. It was one of those pivotal moments in life. It was one of those times when something was finally fully defined for me, and I knew that this was to be instrumental in forming the path my life would take. Now, realize that I had seen outstanding flying before, and understood fully what I was watching on each of those occasions. Bob Gialdini’s flights with the Olympic at the 1961 Nats were the catalyst that made me want to someday fly stunt. But the flight I saw from Gene that day on May 30th in Union defined how I wanted to fly stunt.
Gene was an ominous looking character in those days; at least I thought so. He was a professional musician at that time in his life and would play in New York City until the wee hours of the morning at a “gig” and then drive straight to a contest without getting any sleep. He looked haggard and even a bit mean. Not someone that a young, impressionable, rural New Jersey boy would readily go up to and ask questions of! I was scared of him right from the moment I first laid eyes on him, but there was something there that I really liked, as well. I later realized that this was perhaps the very first pure competitor that I had seen in person. His persona was unlike anyone else’s.
From the very moment that Gene’s jet-like model broke ground that day, I knew I was watching a very special performance. In fact, I think everyone had that same thought. I first saw it there but had witnessed it many, many more times in the following years; Gene stopped the contest! I mean the action all over the field came to a virtual halt when he took off. All eyes were on him as he set-up for his reverse wingover.
There are moments that are freeze-frames in time for everyone, and as I watched Gene’s model circulate at a very business-like speed – not too fast, but certainly quicker than anyone else’s – little did I know that I was about to experience one. When Gene turned the model into the climb at the entry point of the wingover, I could almost swear that I heard a distinct “pop!” The corner was that abrupt and crisp. The line the white and orange jet scribed over the top seemed to be absolutely perfect. No wavering, no hint of straining to get to the top as many of the stunt models from that era displayed; just a clean, straight, one-speed, defined arc to the point of the inverted pullout. I was mesmerized by the way his model presented. So stable, so confident. And then it hit me that the ship was way past the point where I was used to seeing others begin their pullout. I had time for this thought to register and to even get a chill from the anticipation of a straight in crash as the ship was still descending! Then he turned “The Corner.”
In later years the East Coast stunt fliers who competed on a national level would become quite famous for their “blazing” corners. It would be a conceded matter of fact that no matter how they flew the rest of the pattern, their square maneuvers would have little or no competition for minimum radius corners. Others caught up eventually, but the East Coast boys were the undisputed corner champs for quite some time.
I believe that it was Gene’s type of corner that set the stage and defined that “look” for us. I know that in my mind I had seen my hopeful future in that split second. Can’t honestly tell you here that I remember virtually anything else from that pattern, but I certainly do have a vivid remembrance of that perfect and stunning wingover pull out corner. I also realized right then that I had a new hero!  


Chapter Two

“I’m going to die in Astoria”

I didn’t get too many chances to watch Gene fly after that May 30th Union meet. I really didn’t have a way to get to a lot of contests in those days. My dad was very busy at a new job that required a long daily commute to New York, so weekends for him were the only time he had to work around the house and rest up.
   I actually had been focusing on trying to learn to fly stunt for a couple of years at that time. I built a Veco Mustang and a Veco Chief in an effort to better learn the pattern maneuvers. The Mustang was the first of two that I would build, and it was a pretty good round maneuver machine, but it just wasn’t capable of a competition type corner. I learned a lot about wing loading with that ship. It had a smallish wing (405 square inches as I remember), and weighed in the 38-ounce range. It would stall if I tried to turn it abruptly.
   The Chief, on the other hand, had a huge wing, and it also weighed around 38 ounces. It could really turn! Unfortunately, it was not the most accurate model that I ever built, and I had to use a trim tab to get the wing level. I had messed up in building the wing in several ways on that particular model, and it came out finished with pronounced anhedral. I think it actually looked cool that way!
I had added large built-up, round wing tips that were made up of about a million small parts each, and I also installed wing type landing gear in place of the normal fuselage mounted gear supplied in the Chief kit and new fin and rudder with a rounder shape.  I had intended to add a canopy on the top block but never got around to that. I finished the model in all Aero Gloss Stearman Red with a bit of black trim. Thinking back now, I believe my Chief was an awful looking model, but I was very proud of it. Most importantly, it didn’t fly too badly.
   I began practicing with the Chief, trying as best I could to emulate the patterns that I’d seen flown at the contests. Naturally, I tried to “hammer” the corners, just like Gene.
   In the late summer of 1965, I remember practice flying at my club’s field in Dumont, New Jersey. It was actually a baseball field that we had gained permission to use. There were no competition fliers in that club, and I was the only member who could actually fly the entire pattern. We had a lot of fun, however, and I looked forward to our weekend flying sessions.
   I had just finished a flight and had landed. One of my fellow club members retrieved the model and we walked back to our roped-off pit area. I was busy wiping the fuel residue off of the model when I heard a voice say, “Looks like there’s someone here who wants to fly stunt.”  I turned to see who had made the comment and nearly dropped the model and my jaw when I saw that it was Bill Simons.
   Bill was the top northern New Jersey stunt pilot, and he was also among the top fliers in the entire eastern area. I had watched him fly locally many times but didn’t dare bother him while he was “working.” He did once let me launch his model at a field where he was putting on a demonstration. I think everyone else was afraid to even touch his model, so I actually volunteered on that occasion. Bill’s models were absolutely stunning. He was generally acknowledged as one of the very best builders and finishers in the East, and just the thought of putting a ding or dent in one of his models was enough to keep most far from the risk of launching them.  
   Apparently, Bill had been out flying at one of his “secret” practice fields and stopped by just to see what was going on at our club. He had watched my entire flight and came over to make a few encouraging comments and to offer any help that he could.
   I was at once both stunned and elated. I actually flew a pattern that was recognizable enough for Bill to watch and then make a favorable comment about. I gathered up all my intestinal fortitude, thanked him, and then took a chance by asking him if I could take a few minutes of his time regarding a few technical questions. He said to fire away, and I guess I must have overwhelmed him with a barrage of stuff. In retrospect, that outpouring of questions from me must have convinced him that I was more than just a bit serious about giving this stunt thing a try.
   Bill wrote down his phone number on a matchbook cover and gave it to me. He said that if I had any additional questions, I should give him a call sometime. I kept that matchbook cover for several years, even long after I had committed his number to memory. I even wrote his number in several other places at my home, just in case!
   I waited all of about sixteen hours to call Bill (didn’t want him to think I was too anxious!) and began asking more questions. We lived about ten miles apart at that time, and he suggested that I come to his house for a visit one evening that week. I remember not getting much sleep the night before that visit.
   When I got to his house, Bill took me to his upstairs shop (a converted bedroom). What happened next is probably as much to blame as anything else for my lifelong love affair with the stunt event and stunt models.
   Sitting on one table in the shop were the pieces for Bill’s next new stunt model. The wing, fuselage crutch, rudder, fin, and stabilizer and elevator assemblies were sitting there squarely arranged in absolute pristine beauty. I mean, man, those components looked perfect! No gouges, no glue stains, no smudges -- just pure clean balsa parts that were perfectly sanded and shaped. Artwork!
   I guess I went into a state of shock when I saw those pieces. I suddenly felt that I’d been thrown into the deep end of the stunt craftsmanship pool, and I was about to drown. I had no idea that building could be done at this level. I think my reaction pleased Bill.
   I wanted to build like this immediately, but the thought of how much valley was between the peak where I was in my building and flying, and the peak where Bill was, seemed daunting. Bill sensed all of this, I think, and offered to mentor me as I built a new model. He suggested that I build a “Simonized” Nobler, and gave me all the secrets of what to use from the kit and what to change and make anew. I left his house that day with renewed focus and a sense of purpose. I was beginning my journeyman period, and Bill Simons was going to be my teacher. How great was that!
   Bill and I went on to become extremely close friends – brothers really. He was even the Best Man at my wedding. I can never repay Bill for the things that I learned from him, and there are a lot of stories that I could relate.  Without doubt, Bill Simons was one of the most influential among many wonderful people I’ve met and embraced during my life in modeling.   
Anyway, I began building and flying with Bill shortly after we met. About two weeks after that initial meeting at the flying field in Dumont, Bill told me that he was going to compete in the Willets Point contest (the future site of Shea Stadium) that coming weekend. I asked him if I could go along to watch, and he told me that normally that would be fine, but on this occasion he had been invited by Gene Schaffer to come out to Astoria (a section of Queens, New York) and have breakfast with Bob Lampione and him before going to the site of the contest. Bill didn’t want to take it upon himself to invite me to Gene’s apartment, and I understood that.
The look of disappointment on my face must have gotten to him, because he informed me that he would call Gene and ask him if he could bring me along. I really didn’t expect to hear from Bill with a positive answer, but that evening he called and told me to be at his house bright and early on Sunday morning. Gene, who didn’t even know me at the time, had said, “Sure, bring the kid along.”
   I was at once elated and also scared to death. I was in a car with one of the stunt legends of our area, on the way to the apartment of the top stunt legend of our area, and I was just a nobody. Yikes, be careful what you wish for!
   We arrived in Astoria and went up to Gene’s apartment. The door opened, and there he was. Up to that point the closest I had come to Gene was the far side of the spectator fence at the Union meet. Bill and Gene exchanged greetings and then Bill introduced me to Gene.
   Now it is important here that you understand just a bit more about Gene before I go on. While Gene was still in grade school, an automobile hit him. This happened while he was hurrying home to show his parents a special award that he’d received. The accident was a bad one, and it left Gene with a damaged nervous system. The result was a rather pronounced series of very noticeable, nervous “ticks” which manifested themselves in many ways, including a series of audible and involuntary popping, clicking, and snapping noises, and a number of unusual stretching gestures made with his neck, jaw, arms, and shoulders.  
Please understand that I share the following commentary with a genuine respect and admiration for Gene, and there is nothing herein that I wouldn’t have outright said to Gene. (I read this to Gene just to be sure that he was okay with the release of this information. He agreed that it is an integral part of his story and should be included. ) In fact, as we grew to be good friends, the tick and noise thing became an endearing source of hilarity for all of us, Gene included. He knew how to use that trait as a competitor to good effect, too!  
   I remember Gene’s starting to shake my hand, but at the very last instant he pulled back his hand and waved it all about while making some very unusual popping and snapping sounds. He stretched his neck, looked at the ceiling, and then looked at me and again offered his hand. I almost freaked out.
   I was scared enough at just the thought of meeting this tough looking, gifted pilot. Throw in the component of a wild nervous tick condition -- that Bill, by the way, neglected to warn me about – and I was nearly incapable of speech. I stammered a hello, and I think I gushed a bunch of stuff about how great a pilot I thought he was. Gene rolled his eyes towards the ceiling, made some wild chewing gestures, uttered a couple more strange sounds, and said something like, “Yeah, thanks, nice to meet you, too. Now get your ass in here and let’s eat!”
   As I walked into the apartment, my eyes were drawn to an airframe that was sitting on the living room floor. It was Gene’s new Stunt model, and it was not yet fully finished. The entire model was painted in matt black, and it looked stunningly perfect in every respect. In fact, it looked like a piece of modern artwork sitting there.
Gene preferred low-slung, sleek, and stylish models; the Jet he had flown at Union earlier that year was just an experiment for him -- a way of quickly trying the then new foam core wing construction. His specialty was the racer-like model with minimal fuselage depth and very low-to-the-deck cockpits. He told me much later that Charles Mackey’s Lark was the inspiration for this look. In fact, Gene made many Lark fuselaged models that featured slightly thicker than stock Nobler wings. It was a sort of trademark for Gene in those days.
Characteristically, Gene’s models all featured fairly long nose and tail moment arms and needle-nose spinners. The combination made his models seem even lower and sleeker than they actually were. This new model was his best looking by far up to this point from a strictly design point perspective. It featured a torsion bar, fuselage-mounted landing gear system, and no plastic canopy on the cockpit area. This one was to have a painted-on canopy, something virtually unheard of in those days.
I couldn’t take my eyes off of this model; I was mesmerized by its appearance. I asked Gene if I could pick it up, feel the weight, and look at the bottom of the model. He said, “Okay, but be careful with it.” Like I really needed to be told that! Like I would do something stupid like start to turn it over without checking for any obstructions in the room…
I lifted that model as though it were made of eggshells. It didn’t seem to weigh anything at all. How was it possible that this solid core foam wing model could weigh so little? Amazing! I started to slowly flip it over, and then it happened. Funny how a soft balsa wing tip hitting a hard maple stereo cabinet can make such a loud thud. Yup, I had rotated the ship the wrong way and put a really nasty little ding in the right lower wing tip block of this otherwise immaculate model. Suddenly, the banter between Bill, Bob, and Gene stopped. They all looked over at me and the dented ship. I remember thinking, “I’m going to die in Astoria.”
Actually, Gene took it quite well. He began popping and snapping and twitching at an accelerated rate, then rushed over to grab the ship from my hands. In his agitated state he flailed the model this way and that, and I was sure he was going to bang it on every piece of furniture in the room. He finally calmed down and inspected the damage. I know he was doing a slow burn inside, but told me that he could easily fix that dent and told me that he wasn’t mad. Yeah, right.
That was a traumatic experience to be sure, but I never did forget the first look I had at that sleek stunter. I knew from that moment on what type of model I wanted to fly. Gene’s styling sense had totally sold me on that look.
The contest that day? Gene won.


Chapter Three

“Secret Moments”

In the spring of 1966, I finished my “Simonized” Nobler. Bill Simons had built about a gazillion Noblers over the years, and had found areas that he felt could benefit from some further engineering. In fact, when I bought my “Green Box” Nobler kit to start building my first real competition stunter, Bill told me to remove the wing ribs and the “D” Tube spar pieces from the kit box and throw everything else away – except the landing gear wire if I were going to build the model with the standard gear placement.
   I decided that I wanted a wing gear model, so the gear wire followed almost all that high-priced, die-cut balsa into the trashcan (I did keep the leading edge and trailing edge sheeting). I’m sure glad my dad never found out that I threw away almost all of that kit!
   Bill told me to start with new 1/8-inch balsa sides – without the lightening holes that kit sides had - and new formers that didn’t protrude upward from the sides to form the basis for the aft turtle deck. He told me that I would be using carved and hollowed blocks for all of the fuselage shapes and the cowl. Ditto for the wingtips; they would each be made from two pieces of balsa block, carved and hollowed. It was clear that Bill had made a few of these and had found ways to make them stronger, faster, and easier. He told me to substitute ¼ inch sheet balsa for the built-up stabilizer and elevators supplied in the kit and to make a built-up and sheeted rudder as well.
I followed Bill’s directions to the letter, and the result was the first really pretty Stunt model that I owned. I painted it in Candy Apple Red with black and white trim; it was my pride and joy. Bill flew the first test flight and pronounced it a very good ship. I remember it weighed in at about 44 ounces, which was not too bad for a first try at a contest-finished model. I powered it with a Fox .35 Anniversary Special (the one with the gold anodizing) and a Top Flite 10 x 6 prop. With that model and Bill’s coaching, I began to fly at a competitive level – at least in the Senior Stunt division.
There was a famous contest that was held each year in New Bedford, Massachusetts, at the New Bedford Airport, and I wanted to go. Bill Simons had a previous engagement and couldn’t make the trip.  I was of driving age at that point, so I convinced my father to allow me to take the family station wagon and go alone to that meet. I would have to leave late on Saturday night, drive over two hundred miles, grab a little sleep in the car, then compete all day long and drive home on Sunday night. That he let me attempt this trip was amazing, but I think he knew how anxious I was to prove myself against all comers in my age bracket. Dad always did fully support my modeling interests.
That drive was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my young life. It was an adventure, really. I had not gone anywhere outside of our immediate area, alone, and certainly nowhere of any distance at night in the car. There were lots of new feelings running around in my head during that trip, and I remember really liking the mystery of night driving on a secluded New England highway. In fact, I really believe that is why I prefer long distance night driving to this day. Those who know me well also know of this penchant for leaving for home after a full day’s flying and driving through the night. They just think I’m weird.
On that trip I learned the joys of channel surfing on AM radio to find just the right driving tune, and of course the time honored practice of singing along at the top of my lungs. (I know… I won’t quit my day job.) I also liked looking in the rear view mirror and seeing my gleaming red Nobler strapped in and waiting. That was my first hit of the gunfighter mentality. I was going into someone else’s territory to do battle. Great stuff!
I arrived at the airport in the wee hours of Sunday morning, and almost immediately dropped into a deep sleep lying on the front seat of the car. I was exhausted. I guess I slept for about three or four hours until awakened by the sound of a model airplane engine. Someone was getting in an early practice flight.
I got up and went into the airport to use the facilities and get a cup of coffee. When I went back outside, I saw that a number of contestants had arrived. Among them was Gene Schaffer, who had brought along his wife Sue. Gene had this absolutely gorgeous, gleaming red Firebird, out of which he pulled his latest sleek stunter. This was the model that was to inspire the Caprice design. As much as I had liked his model that I damaged in Astoria, this one was even more stunning and well proportioned.
I had gotten to know Gene a bit by this time, and had even visited him alone once at his new home in Lake Hiawatha, New Jersey. I was getting braver…
Gene asked if I would like to practice with him, and I quickly accepted. That was an honor! We were told that we couldn’t practice on the actual contest site for a while yet, but we could practice on an adjacent ball field. Trees bordered that field on one side, and it was quite tight. I wasn’t too sure that there was enough room to fly there. Gene suggested that I go first.
In retrospect it might have been a good idea to walk the lines, with the model attached, around the circle to the tree line to insure that there was enough room. But we didn’t…
I fired up, signaled for a launch, and took off. I had made a full lap before the outside wingtip hit a branch that was overhanging the circle. I backed up as much as I could and completed the flight carefully to prevent another mishap. When I landed, I ran to inspect the ship. Only a small rip was found at the top of the last outer wing rib bay, and a small piece of scotch tape fixed it up well enough to continue flying that day. But, alas, my pristine winged weapon now had a scar. I was a bit miffed. Gene opted to wait to practice until the main contest site was opened…
All went well that day for both of us; I won the Senior Stunt event, and Gene won in Open. As always, when Gene flew, the entire contest came to a halt to watch him. Amazing… simply amazing.
I think Gene could tell that I was pretty tired after the contest. He suggested that I follow him on the way home, as we both took the same route for most of the way. I remember being so sleepy that I could hardly focus on the road. I know I weaved around a bunch. After about an hour on the road, Gene signaled me to pull off at an exit. He pulled into a fairly expensive-looking restaurant’s parking lot. I was on a very strict budget that weekend; in fact I was down to about five bucks!
Gene and Sue said they needed to eat and that I should join them. I started to make some lame excuse about needing to get back on the road, but Gene told me to shut up and come with them. He also said that he was buying! Wow! This was great. One of my Stunt heroes was taking me to dinner!
Gene said that we needed to celebrate our “team” win and fairly demanded that I order a steak. It was pretty much at that moment that I knew I had been accepted into the competitive East Coast Stunt scene. In retrospect I think that his offer of dinner was also his way of apologizing for the tree strike earlier that day; I think he felt in some way at fault for that. I was starting to see through Gene’s tough, gruff exterior and was finding a kind and gentle soul there. It was the start of a very long, meaningful, and fun friendship.
My Nobler was a really good flying model, but it didn’t present or fly like Gene’s “Blackbird” (so named by me because Gene didn’t name his models in those days, and he did paint all of his models in base black for about five years). I really wanted a model that would drive through wind and turbulence as Gene’s did, and one with which I could get that great looking corner.
I asked Gene at dinner that evening if I could have the plans for his model so I could build one. He informed me very matter-of-factly that there were no plans for the ship. He went on to tell me that all of the dimensions for his models were in his head! Not being one to take a hint, I pressed on. “Could I have those dimensions?” Gene let out a nervous laugh, popped and twitched a bit, and then looked me straight in the eye. He didn’t say anything for quite a few moments; he was very still and serene. (I later learned that when Gene was serious and focused, he could overcome the nervous condition. This was certainly the case when he flew!) Then he smiled very sincerely and said yes.
What followed was a serious discussion of my intentions. He would only give those dimensions to me if I would assure him that I was going to build the ship just as he instructed. I still get chills when I think about that discussion. I promised, of course, to follow his every direction and not make a move without consulting him.
Gene asked the waitress for a pen, ripped a section of the paper placemat, and began listing all of the dimensions on it for me. He told me what wing design to order from Foam Flite, and then he gave me the “Secret Moments,” which, according to him, were the real reason for his models’ great performance. Gene was very stern and direct when he uttered those dimensions. It was as if he were giving me some priceless map to a hidden treasure.
Those moment arm dimensions are forever etched in my memory, and I might forget a lot of things, but never those numbers! Nose Moment: 9 3/8 inches; Tail Moment: 14 3/4 inches. Doesn’t sound all that impressive now, but I felt somehow blessed when he uttered them and wrote them down for me.
Along with the Secret Moments came a solemn oath not to tell anyone else. Of course, Gene released this information to general distribution himself some years later, so I guess it’s all right for me to relate it again here.
Pressing my luck, I asked Gene if I could change the wing tip, tail tip, and wheel spat shapes to suit my own taste. Surprisingly, that didn’t seem to bother him at all. In fact, I think he liked the idea, so when I returned home, I began working on the model that was to eventually become the Caprice. Wow, what a trip!


Chapter Four

What’s in a name?

Construction on my new and as yet un-named, Gene Schaffer-inspired design began in the fall of 1966. I drew no plans at that time, opting to be just like Gene and draw the necessary lines for construction right onto the balsa. I did make cardboard templates for all the important shaped pieces such as the wing tips, fin, and wheel spats. Basically those were the only parts that differed from Gene’s dimensional drawing. I used the same tip shape that I had used on my Simonized Nobler. That shape was rounder and fuller than the stock Nobler tip, and it added about an inch of span per panel as well.
   I received my very first foam wing from the Foam Flite Company and began sanding the balsa skins smooth the very same evening. In those days the wings arrived covered with 1/16-inch balsa skins, which were not sanded at all. The ¼-inch leading edge and trailing edge caps were glued on but not shaped or sanded to conform to the sheet skins. That was fine; we could sand to our heart’s content and be as critical as we pleased. I think I fussed with the sanding of those panels for about a week before I pronounced them ready for joining.  
   Every operation on a foam wing in those days was a first for those of us who were just beginning to try them. They were pricey enough, even then, that you wanted to be certain not to make a catastrophic mistake. Bill Simons had built one at the end of the previous year, and so he was the local expert on the techniques involved. I made several trips to his house with that wing at each stage, just to be certain that I didn’t do something stupid. He explained to me how to install the controls and the landing gear blocks, and then checked my work before any glue was allowed near the components.
   Once the wing was together the rest of the work seemed easy. In fact these new-age models went together very quickly, even if you spent just a few hours a day on them. The fuselage crutch was fitted with top blocks, bottom blocks and a cowl block, and then carved and sanded until the desired shape was achieved. Many of the popular kit designs – the Nobler included – required bending sheeting over formers, or planking with narrow balsa strips. That was far more difficult it seemed than carving a solid block to shape. It’s funny how things change. Now we try to eliminate as many blocks as possible and mold top and bottom blocks whenever possible!
   The blocks for the Caprice were hollowed as much as I dared to eliminate all possible dead weight. The foam wings were heavier than the built-up ones we were all used to using, and care had to be taken everywhere in the airframe to make up for that extra weight.
This carving, sanding and hollowing process became my very favorite part of stunt model construction because it allowed so much creativity in achieving shape and form. I still really like carving just because of the artistic aspects. Hey, I’m just old school!  
   The stabilizer and elevator assembly was made from 3/8-inch thick balsa. The pieces were cut out as per the dimensional drawing, tack glued together and sanded as a unit, tapering the assembly towards the tips. A square center section on the stabilizer was maintained to allow easy alignment when assembling the stabilizer to the fuselage crutch.
   Once the wing was completed, the blocks carved and hollowed, and the stabilizer and elevator assemblies completed, I vividly remember having all the parts laying on a table and thinking that the grouping looked just like the parts I saw when I first entered Bill Simons’ upstairs workshop. I was learning!
   Gene and Billy had really stressed the importance of absolute accuracy in the assembling of the components, and I do remember that procedure taking a long while, as I checked and rechecked all the dimensions before gluing. In fact, now I believe that this is more important to the eventual way a Stunt model flies than any so called “Secret Moments.”  
   Anyway, the ship was finally ready for finishing. I covered the entire airframe with extra light (Double “0”) grade silkspan and applied several coats of clear dope. Then I mixed up a fillercoat from clear dope and talcum powder. I added a good shot of red colored dope to allow me to see how much filler I was removing during the sanding process. After a few evenings of elbow grease the ship was ready for the final base color coat. Nope, didn’t even consider anything but black! This was going to look as close to Gene’s model as possible.
   I vividly remember setting the airframe -- with its fresh coat of black dope – on my parents’ living room rug. I put the wheels on the axles, taped the spinner in place and then spent about four hours “hangar flying” it from every possible angle. It might not have been quite as perfect as Gene’s appeared to me that day in Astoria, but it wasn’t bad!  
Red and white trim was applied and then it was time for the most important part – choosing and applying a name! Unlike Gene who didn’t name his planes, I couldn’t wait to give mine an identity.
   Choosing a name is a serious thing. A lot of work goes into one of these models, and over an entire lifetime you won’t have too many of them, so the name must be given a lot of thought.
   I remember making a long list of possible names. You would have thought I was naming a son or daughter at this point. This was a sleek, sophisticated model, and it needed a sleek, sophisticated name. I had always liked Eddie Elasick’s Impala, and began thinking of other popular automobile names that might capture the essence of the design.
   Being a Chevy fan narrowed the field somewhat, and I imagined the top inside wing emblazoned with such monikers as Bel Air, Corvair, Biscayne, etc. None of them seemed to fit the image. Chevy had a new car in their lineup in that era - the Caprice! “Hey, that’s not bad,” I remember thinking. I wasn’t sure what Caprice meant, but it sounded good to me.
I just now highlighted the word “Caprice” and went to the thesaurus function in Microsoft Word. Among the meanings that came up were Whim, Impulse, Fancy, and Notion. Isn’t that interesting…
Unfortunately I was not too adept at that time in making fancy stencils and ended up using a military crate-labeling stencil for the name. It was not very sleek or sophisticated, but at least it had a name.    
Several coats of Aero Gloss clear dope were applied. Since it was winter by this time, I let the ship sit and dry for several weeks before wet sanding and rubbing. When I finally did rub it out, I was more than pleased. This was really a good-looking model, and I was very proud of it. Question was, “Would it fly?”


Chapter Five

Days of Tundra

“Darn it Bobby, it’s just too windy to fly.” Bill Simons uttered those same words to me on quite a few occasions - and he was always right. On this particular occasion he was admonishing me to not start the engine in the Caprice and attempt the very first flight with it on the morning of the first spring contest in 1967 in Millville, New Jersey.
The wind was howling across the concrete parking where the meet was supposed to be held. I was the only one stupid enough to even take a model out of the car that day. It was extremely cold, and the Fox was not cooperating. I remember it backfiring and whacking the nylon 10 x 6 Tornado prop across my finger several times. Trust me, glow fuel hurts when it enters an open wound!
I managed to get the engine running, set the needle and took off on the maiden flight. Actually, that’s a bit oversimplified. As Bill released the model, it over-rotated as the wind got under the tail and the tip of the prop hit the pavement. It ground off quite a bit of diameter, but it did manage to finally crawl into the air. Not the start I was looking for.
I remember trying a couple of loops, but the model accelerated so much in the heavy wind that I thought the lines would break. I decided to fly it level until the fuel was consumed. The landing was even less graceful than the takeoff, with the model ending up on its nose when a gust hit it from behind on rollout. The landing gear on my model was made a bit too long, and it caused problems for the first few meets in which I flew it. If the ship had set lower to the ground, those first flight glitches might have been avoided.
Anyway, it survived its maiden voyage, and was then put back in the car. The contest was cancelled because of the high winds, and as it turned out my flight was the only one flown that day! Billy yelled at me the entire way home for my foolishness. It was not the only time for that either…

Things got much better as I began trimming the Caprice. In those days we didn’t have adjustable leadouts, or adjustable tip weight boxes. There wasn’t too much we actually could trim but the CG location and work with the engine and prop combination a bit. Thankfully the leadouts on the original were positioned very well, and the ship proved to be a great flyer.
   It was stable and turned equally both upright and inverted – a testament to accurate assembly of the components. It was very easy to fly, and with it I began to build a modest local reputation in the Senior Stunt division. The only real stumbling block for me in those days was one Dawn Cosmillo.
   Dawn was the protégé of John D’Ottavio and Larry Scarinzi. She was an excellent pilot and had very good, well-built, well-trimmed and potently powered airplanes (Thanks to Larry’s magical ways with engines and nitro bottles I’m sure). She was a great competitor and I looked forward to flying against her in contests. The fact that she almost always beat me only made me more determined to get better.
I only bested Dawn a few times during those late 1960’s years. She quit flying around 1970. I really think that I owe much of my success to her. I tried incredibly hard to fly well enough not to be beaten by “a girl!” Trust me; I took a lot of abuse from my friends about that. Those of us who flew with Dawn saw her only as a savvy, competent and dedicated competitor. We never let the gender thing become a factor, and it never should have been. I truly wish she had kept on flying.
   Anyway, I flew the Caprice a lot. It was a great tool with which to get to the next level in Stunt competition. I saw and felt in it the traits that I admired in Gene’s ships. It was solid at the end of the lines, it was very stable, and it possessed real drive through bad conditions and turbulence. I really believe that the density of the solid foam core wing had a lot to do with that. I also believe, however, that the concentrated weight at the tips accentuated other things that were not good. If the model was flying in extreme turbulence it would drive through okay, but it would “dance” laterally to a small degree. Newton’s law was quite evident there on the heavy tips.
   My Caprice weighed in at around 50 ounces. Clearly I had a way to go to get down to the 44-ounce weights that Gene and others were hitting with their foam wing models. In ideal conditions the extra weight was not a big factor. But, in windy weather and turbulence it became clear that more power might really help this ship.
   The OS Max .35S was being tried by several Stunt fliers around the country at that time, and the reports were that it had the same good two-four break traits of the Fox, but produced a considerable amount more power. I saved up and got one!
   The extra power was more than welcome, and the ship flew better than ever with that engine. It was becoming more than just a model airplane; it was a trusted weapon!
   The last competition for the Caprice before I entered the Army in 1968 was the famed Garden State Circle Burners’ Snowbird contest in February. The ground had thawed somewhat the month before the meet and lots of footprints were made all over the field by the members trying to get in some winter flying. By the time of the Snowbird meet, the weather had turned very cold, and the field froze solid again. The result was a very rough, tundra-like surface with lots of deep holes.
   On my first flight that day I landed and hit one of those holes dead square with the outboard landing gear, and it snapped off clean! Actually a wire stub was still protruding from the wing. Someone had a propane torch and we were able to bend a new piece of wire with an axle, and lash it to the broken strut extending from the wing, braze the assembly solid, and remount the wheel. That got me through the day, and it offered the opportunity to make a more permanent repair and shorten the original gear to the proper length, as per Gene’s model, at the same time.
   Dawn won that day, but it was a very close contest in which I ended up taking second place. I remember her father coming over to me and saying that I was providing Dawn with worthy and needed competition. That comment made me feel really good. Dawn was a National Senior contender and a former Junior National Champ!
   Shortly after that contest I entered the Army (in April of 1968) and didn’t get to fly any of the 1968 summer season. My Army experience was short lived due to a bad fall in training in which I broke my back. I was having extremely bad leg pain after the fall and was admitted to Walton Army Hospital at Fort Dix. I spent several weeks in traction there and was finally Honorably Discharged in October of that year. The doctors didn’t actually tell me that my back had been broken; I found that out years later. The result of that injury was a life filled with terrible back and leg pain. Only recently has that pain subsided. Looks like 1968 was my year for “landing gear” problems!
   When I returned home from the Army I flew the Caprice several times before winter closed in. The following spring I took it to a contest at Mitchell Field on Long Island. It was very windy that day, and Bill once again told me not to fly. In fact, the contest was cancelled. But Gene had other ideas.
    Gene was well known for being the very best East Coast flier in the wind. His home field was the model airplane facility at Flushing Meadows Park in Queens, New York. It was rare to ever have a calm day at that site, and so Gene got lots of wind practice. In fact, I think Gene preferred to fly in heavy wind just because he was so good at it.
   Whenever the wind got too bad to fly patterns safely, Gene would put a smaller diameter prop on his plane, put in just enough fuel to get airborne and begin flying consecutive lazy eights. When the engine stopped, he would use the power of the wind to keep the plane’s momentum and fly for hours sometimes, doing lazy eights and other downwind maneuvers.
   That day at Mitchell Field Gene put on a real wind flying show. I wanted to try that for sure! Bill Simons - always the voice of reason - tried to talk me out of it, but I was determined. Gene gave me some instructions, and I took off and began doing lazy eights. When the engine shut down, the model actually picked up speed! Really, the wind was making it go faster than it did while running.
   I did a bunch of eights and then Gene called out and said to take a level lap and try inside loops. You have to really work at it to whip the model around the circle in such wind, but I did it and started doing deadstick inside loops. Then Gene called out for outside loops, and I did a few of those. Hey this was fun!
   Gene called out for outside squares, and I gamely gave them a try - but only a try. The model lost momentum when I missed the wind, and it fell in towards me and shattered on the runway. Both Gene and I were laughing like fools, but Bill was really mad at both of us. I had crashed my only flyable ship right at the beginning of the 1969 season; a season in which the Nats were going to be at Willow Grove, Pennsylvania. You are wondering what happened to the Candy Red Nobler? Red Reinhardt had crashed it some months earlier!
   The saga of the original Caprice had come to an inauspicious end; it really deserved better. I often regret trying wind flying that day, but I suppose if the situation presented itself again, I’d try it again. What can I tell you, I’m just not too bright sometimes… And, whenever Gene threw down the gauntlet, I would always pick it up.
   I was already building a new jet-styled stunt design called the Tangent for use in 1969, and had designed yet another jet styled ship that I called the Avanti. I didn’t even think about building another Caprice for many, many years.


Chapter Six

“If it’s Dennis, I’m not here!”

A few years back, while attending the annual VSC (Vintage Stunt Championships) in Tucson, Arizona, I had the pleasure of meeting one very interesting and talented character. I say character, because the man I’m going to reference here had a completely different way of attacking/approaching the sport and art of Stunt flying than I’ve ever seen before.  He was applying interesting concepts for learning at an accelerated rate, and he seemed to be making progress by leaps and bounds.  
   That’s when I first met Dennis Choate. We hit it off as friends immediately. I could sense a deep and profound intelligence in Dennis, and everything he’s done from the moment that I first met him has only reinforced that thought for me.
   Dennis is very much a “Let’s get right to the point” kind of guy, and he often calls with a barrage of very well thought out questions. I can almost hear his mind absorbing material as we speak. He hears every word and assimilates every thought carefully before asking the next logical question. As I mentioned before, he’s a really intelligent man. You have to be “on your game” just to hold a conversation with Dennis!
   Since the beginning of the Classic Stunt event, I’ve built models that were flown by my Stunt “heroes.” It was a way of paying homage to those who were – and in some cases still are – great designers/pilots. Even though I have three designs that qualify as Classic Legal, I still preferred to build the designs of others.
   One evening a few years ago, Dennis and I were talking about Classic Stunt designs. We were kicking around what designs we felt had the most competitive edge. Naturally, we both agreed that Billy Werwage’s Ares and Vulcan designs were excellent, and we also agreed on Bob Gialdini’s Olympic MkVI as being a good one. In fact, the Olympic was the one that Dennis chose to fly for several years. He made a number of them and even built a few profile versions to test engines and to get used to the feel of that setup of moments. He’s not lazy!
   Other designs that we both seemed to like were the Charles Mackey designed Lark and the Bob Tucker designed Tucker Special. I happened to mention in passing that I had once designed a model that had some aesthetics that were somewhat akin to the Lark but was really based on Gene Schaffer’s models from the mid to late 1960’s. I described the model and Dennis became very enthusiastic about building one for Classic Stunt at VSC. I told him that I didn’t have a full set of plans for the model but did have all the dimensions and the templates for the critical shapes. I also knew the exact wing design that was used and could, perhaps, draw a set of plans for him – someday.
   Dennis became obsessed with getting those plans, and he called me almost every week for more than a year! I couldn’t understand why he was so adamant about building that particular model. It was fairly obscure, even in its own area in the 1960’s, and it certainly never won any contests of note. It wasn’t as stylish as, say, an Ares or a Lark (at least from my perspective). Why would he want so intensely to build that model?
   Dennis kept the pressure on and finally admitted that he just wanted to fly a model that I designed in my early years of flying. Wow! Talk about a compliment! I never dreamed that anyone would look at my early work and find it worthy of replicating. Well, I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder after all.
   I’ve always thought the Caprice had fairly decent lines, but that was only because I liked the way Gene’s models looked, and the Caprice was essentially a rip-off of one of those models. “Okay,” I thought, “I can live with this.”
   Another year passed, and I could tell that Dennis was getting more than just a bit impatient waiting for those promised plans. In fact I remember telling my son Robby one day when the phone rang, “If it’s Dennis, I’m not here!” One day, however, the spirit just moved me.  I dug out all the photos and templates and put a piece of Mylar on the drawing board. (I was really just tired of Dennis’ persistent urging, and being afraid to answer the phone.)  
The first thing that I drew was a blank fuselage side with the all-important Secret Moments. The next few hours were just a happy blur as the Caprice side view took form again. A rush of genuine nostalgia came over me. But, was it accurate? Well, I knew the wing, moment arms, and force arrangements were dead on the money to the first one. The same held true for the wing tips, tail tips, the wheel spats, and the fuselage block shapes. There just wasn’t much more to this model than those few items, so the answer was a resounding, “Yes!”
If I were to design this model today, I’d certainly shorten that long nose moment arm. In the 1960’s we were flying with 6 1/2 ounce Fox .35 engines that were not fitted with a muffler. The props were lightweight wood units, and we were using no more than 3 1/2 ounce tanks. Remember, there was only one lap required between maneuvers back then, and that meant we didn’t need as much fuel as we do now with the two laps between maneuvers rule. Not too many think about that!
Today’s engines are heavier. The mufflers, though very light, still weigh something, and the carbon props are certainly heavier. I was worried a bit about all of that, but, ultimately, my fears proved to be unfounded. Here, I’m getting ahead of myself.
I sent a copy of the raw Caprice plans to Dennis and waited for the call I was pretty sure I would welcome. Sure enough, Dennis was very pleased with the look of the ship and promptly ordered two sets of covered foam wings so he could get one done quickly. He’s a dynamo when he gets going.
Right at that very time, Dennis’ business really took off. Dennis owns Dencho Marine, a company that builds very sophisticated, expensive, and highly competent offshore racing sailboats and pleasure craft. His reputation is among the very best in that line of work, and he became inundated with so many orders that he just didn’t have time to build his Caprice for that year’s (2003) VSC. I’m afraid the same held true for the 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 seasons, as well. Hey, you have to make hay while the sun shines I guess, and for him modeling had to take a back seat for a while. Hmmm, maybe I should start calling him every couple of days and ask when his Caprice will be finished. Yeah, that’s the ticket…

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Bob Hunt
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« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2015, 05:43:38 AM »

Caprice book continuation:


Chapter Seven

The Build

After finishing the plans for the Caprice, I started to look at them more and more. I had a flood of great memories of the times I had flying with Gene and Bill Simons, and figured that building one of my own designs just once might be a good thing. The timing was good, too. I had sold my Mackey Lark to an East Coast model airplane collector (he just offered too good a price for it!), and didn’t have anything to fly at Tucson that year. As a matter of fact, I’d skipped a year flying at VSC because I didn’t have a ship. Nothing is more frustrating than to be walking around at VSC without a model to fly! I did that twice, but never again.
   Typically, for me at least, the decision to build a model for VSC was left until just a few weeks before the meet. Thankfully this is a very easy model to build. The foam wing goes together very quickly, and all the rest of the surfaces are made from sheet balsa. The fuselage is a simple crutch and blocks affair, and the entire airframe was constructed in about two weeks.
   The procedures and techniques used are pretty standard, and, again, this is a simple build. If you have any questions after reading this document, and looking at the plans, please call me. I’ll be more than happy to clarify anything you don’t understand.
   A group of my friends and I have come up with a couple of things that we think are noteworthy to produce a more accurate model, and would like to pass them on to you here, along with some information on items that we’ve used and liked.  
   Like many others are doing, I chose to use Tom Morris’ control system hardware, including his 4-inch Linen-Based Phenolic (Bakelite) bellcrank, his double-upright flap horn and his double upright elevator horn that is slotted for adjustability. The horns are designed in such a manner that a standard ball link unit fits between the two uprights. A bolt goes through one upright, through the ball link, and then threads into the opposite upright. Of course all of this was coupled together with Tom’s supplied 5/32-inch diameter carbon pushrods, which accept pre-threaded titanium inserts. This is great control system hardware. It is extremely well thought out, easy to install and incredibly smooth operating stuff. I highly recommend it!
   I opted to use a left-handed threaded insert at the elevator end of the pushrod to allow infinite adjustment of the pushrod length. Instead of making a removable hatch to get at this adjustment, I chose simply to cut a neat slot in the fuselage side to allow a K&S open-end wrench to get to the hex on the left-handed insert. This is a light and easy solution to that problem. There is no need in my opinion to have a locking nut at either end, as the friction of the threads in the ball link ends is far more than sufficient to prevent the rod from turning due to vibration.
   Actually it’s rather annoying to realize that now almost anyone can install a perfect and smooth-operating control system on his or her first try. This used to be an art form item. It usually took the average modeler many years to learn all the little secrets to perfect control system geometry using the “old” products and methods. Nope, it’s just not fair!
   I also chose to install removable landing gear. The original didn’t have this feature, but boy would it have made the shortening of those landing gear struts a bunch easier! I did this to allow for easier shipping should the time arrive that I don’t feel like driving to Tucson anymore (Bill Werwage and I made the road trip from the East to VSC nine years in a row!).  
   The rules for Classic Stunt allow for adjustable leadout guides, and for adjustable tip weight boxes. Don’t omit them on this, or any, CL Stunt model! They are very important to get the trim just right, and in some cases the tiniest amount of change in one or all of the adjustable features can make a huge difference. That makes me wonder how many so-so models from the 1960’s that didn’t have adjustable features might have been trimmed out to be great models if they had only been built with adjustable trimming devices.
   Another thing that I incorporated into the new Caprice that wasn’t used in the original is the torque box nose construction. I now design and build the noses of all my ships to accept a plywood lower cover for the tank compartment. This cover gets bolted in place after the tank is installed. The result is an extremely rigid nose section that virtually eliminates twisting from engine torque. The model lasts longer with this plate, and the engine runs better as well. Please do not omit this plate if you build a Caprice. The photos included depict this box structure well, and the plans clarify it as well. The plate also doubles as a tank retainer.
   While the plans show the original fuselage construction which utilizes carved and hollowed blocks, I have recently made a set of plan accurate mold bucks to allow the forward top deck, the rear turtle deck and the entire bottom block to be molded from .077 or 3/32-inch thick balsa. I’m going to explain the original crutch and block type of construction here. The basic crutch assembly is essentially the same whether you plan to use blocks or molded shells.
   The molded shells and the crutch assembly are available either as a unit or separately from Robin’s View Productions.  

Fuselage construction begins with making the two sides from 1/8-inch balsa. Join two sheets using several pieces of masking tape. Next, position the plan over the taped together balsa sides and anchor it from moving with either tape or pins. Use a pin to make punch marks through the plan along the outline of the fuselage side. Next, punch holes around the wing outline, and be sure to make punches at the top and bottom of the sides where the formers will be located.
   Remove the plan from the balsa side stock and connect the lines using a ballpoint pen. Remove the tape from the sides and flip one so that the tops of both sides are lying together on the bench. Now mark the position of the formers onto both sides at one time. This insures that you won’t accidentally layout two left or two right sides.
   Lay the fuselage sides, face down, onto a sheet of 1/32 plywood and trace around the area that will require a doubler. Cut out the plywood doublers slightly oversize. Next, glue each doubler to the appropriate fuselage side. Use 3-hour epoxy for this step, and apply it in a very thin coat. Epoxy can add up in weight quickly, and you don’t need too much anyway. Weight the sides down in the doubler area until the epoxy cures, and then trim and sand the doublers to match the fuselage sides.
   The next step is to build the motor mount crutch assembly. Measure the distance between the engine mounts and make up a spacer from ¼-inch thick balsa sheet stock. The grain should run across the spacer and not lengthwise. This spacer will fit between the mounts in the tank compartment area. Pick out two very straight pieces of 3/8 by 1/2-inch maple motor mount stock, and cut the tank relief in them aft of the firewall, as shown on the plan. This will allow you to move the tank significantly up and down to achieve equal lap times upright and inverted. A relief of 1/4-inch may seem a lot, but if you plan to use a DuBro 4-ounce plastic tank, as was used on the new version of the Caprice, it is necessary. If you plan to use a 1-inch thick metal tank, the relief cutout in the mounts needs to be only 1/8-inch deep.
Today’s modern Schneurle, ball-bearing engines run with far less vibration than did the Fox .35 or the OS Max .35S that were used in the original Caprice, and the 1/4-inch relief will not remove too much strength. If you plan to use a period-accurate Classic engine, use the metal tank and relieve the mounts only 1/8-inch.
In the original model the engine sat directly on the maple mounts. Today we like to have the engine mounted on aluminum or steel plates so that over time the engine lugs don’t crush into the maple mounts. If you opt for the metal mount pads (And I believe you should…), they will have to be recessed into the motor mounts. This can be done accurately using a Dremel tool fitted with a router attachment. If you have a friend who owns a milling machine, it’s even easier!  
Now using 3-hour epoxy, join the maple mounts to the 1/4-inch cross-grain balsa spacer and align it perfectly. Let the assembly cure.
When the glue used to assemble the engine mount crutch has cured, block sand the upper and lower surfaces to insure that everything is absolutely square.  
The engine mount crutch is now ready to be epoxied to the fuselage sides. It is very important that this entire assembly is absolutely accurate. I prefer to join the sides and the mount crutch, over a piece of waxed paper, in a fuselage building fixture. If you don’t have such a fixture, the assembly can be held together accurately over the plan with small, square-edged cold-rolled steel blocks. I have an assortment of these metal blocks and they are invaluable to me in my model building. You can probably have a few of these blocks made for you at a local machine shop at a reasonable cost. You will find them extremely useful in many model building situations.
After the crutch assembly is cured to the fuselage sides, add the formers. Again, a fuselage building fixture allows this to be done quickly and accurately.  
Make a nose ring from 1/8-inch Lite-Ply, and a somewhat smaller diameter 1/32-inch plywood spacer. Position the engine on the mounts and place the nose ring over the thrust washer assembly. Next put the spacer over the thrust washer in front of the nose ring. Put the spinner backplate in place, bolt on a propeller and install the spinner nose cone. Now move the engine aft on the mounts until the spacer snugs the nosering against the front of the fuselage assembly. Line up everything carefully, being certain that there is just the tiniest bit of engine offset (you might have to remove everything several times and sand the front of the fuselage assembly until the correct nose ring placement is achieved), and then spot the mounts for the engine bolts.
Mount the engine using 4-40 cap screws, and then glue the nose ring to the front of the fuselage. Double check the assembly to insure that the spinner backplate is spaced properly in respect to the face of the nose ring before gluing. I make my nose ring slightly larger in diameter than the spinner diameter, and bring it into perfect shape as I am carving and sanding the fuselage blocks.
The next step is to fit the balsa top, bottom and cowl blocks to the fuselage crutch assembly for carving and sanding. (You may opt to go with molded pieces here)
I chose to go with carved balsa blocks on the first “new” Caprice for two reasons. One: I truly enjoy carving and sanding. It is very relaxing, and allows for some artistic expression. Two: I was very short on time in building this model and getting it finished for VSC that year, and developing mold bucks takes as much time or more than carving a set of blocks. I plan on building a few more Caprices in the future, and I will most certainly opt for the molded components then for repeatability.
The outlines of the blocks are transferred from the plans using the pin punch method.
Cut out the blocks using a band saw. I cut the side-view shape of the blocks first, then position them in their respective positions on the fuselage crutch assembly and trace around the fuselage sides to scribe a line about 1/32-inch out from the sides all around. I then cut just outside this line to bring the blocks to planform shape. This step will insure that there will be very little sanding or carving required to bring the sides of the blocks flush with the sides of the fuselage crutch.
  The next step is to tack glue all of the blocks in place on the fuselage crutch assembly. I start with the tail block. I make this so that a very small amount of balsa extends above and below the fuselage crutch, and then when the tack glue spots have dried, I block sand the block flush with the fuselage sides. The top blocks are added next, then the bottom block and finally the cowl block.
After the tack glue spots have dried, I very carefully sand the blocks flush with the fuselage crutch sides. I then measure to find the center of the blocks and make lineup marks that allow me to scribe a centerline all around using a straightedge and a ballpoint pen.
I make a 1/32-inch plywood piece that is the shape of the opening for the cowl intake, and scribe a centerline on it. This piece will be final glued onto the front face of the cowl block, with the centerlines aligned. This will allow for the cowling shape to be carved and sanded right up to the opening without deforming that shape. After the cowl block is carved and final sanded, I use a drum sander fitted to a motorized hand tool to open the plywood piece for the intake hole, and leave about a 1/32-inch lip all around to protect that shape.
The next step is the fun part. I use mainly an X-Acto #26 Whittler’s blade in a 1/2-inch barrel metal knife handle to carve the blocks to shape, but recently have also begun to use a Solingen razor plane (available from Hobby Lobby) to contour the long areas of the blocks.
It is important to work slowly and carefully when carving blocks to insure that you do not take off too much material in any one area. Try to bring the shapes into near final form by working the shapes gradually with the knife or razor plane. Carving is an acquired art, and if you get impatient you will not achieve the desired results. Take lots of breaks, and spend lots of time eyeballing the shapes as you proceed.
When you are satisfied with the carving job, it’s time to final sand the block shapes smooth. I use a variety of sanding blocks and industrial type emery boards for the sanding process. I try not to use loose sandpaper in my hand, as it is unsupported and has the tendency to result in uneven surfaces because of the varying density of the balsa in the blocks.
When sanding, use an incandescent light to allow you to “candle” the surfaces as you proceed. Candling is a process in which you hold up the part being shaped between your eye and the light. The idea is to “bounce” the light off of the surface at a low angle to your viewpoint. This process lets you really see and remove the slightest imperfections in the surface. Work carefully, using the light and sanding block, until the shapes are absolutely perfect.
When satisfied with the block shapes, carefully “pop” the tack glue spots and remove the blocks. Be very careful here not to mar the fuselage sides by breaking them out when popping the glue spots. Usually a #11 blade drawn down the seam between the fuselage crutch and the block will make separation clean and easy.
 After the blocks have been removed, hollow out the insides as per the lines indicated on the plan.
I use a variety of X-Acto gouges and routers to accomplish this hollowing process. I position a strong light on the edge of my bench and hold the block being hollowed between the light and myself. When hollowing, I can tell when I’m getting close to “going through” because the light will shine through the block giving good indication of how thin the block wall is becoming. I usually hollow until a light “pink” color is achieved all around.
You can check the actual thickness in various areas of the block by sticking a straight pin through the wall. Again, work slowly and carefully here to get all possible excess material out of the blocks. It all adds up, and that’s weight you don’t need!
If you should accidentally “break through” as you are hollowing, simply glue the piece back in place. You can sand it smooth on the outside of the block later on.
With the advent of the .2-ounce carbon cloth (sometimes called veil or mat), I have found that I can hollow the blocks quite a bit more than I could when I was using silkspan to cover the fuselage. The carbon cures extremely rigid in but a short time, and that allows the block walls to be thinner without fear of the finish curing and “rippling” the block’s shape. I used to hollow blocks to about a 1/8-inch wall thickness, but now feel that 3/32-inch and even 1/16-inch in some areas is fine.
Once the blocks are fully hollowed, use a round sanding drum to smooth out the gouge and router marks (Home Depot’s Rigid brand Drum Sander replacement sanding drums come in several diameters and grits and are perfect for this step, as well as for other concave area sanding chores). You’ll be surprised how much additional weight you can get out with this detail sanding. Be gram conscious throughout all construction phases, but particularly so with areas of weight that lend very little to the overall strength or rigidity such as the blocks.

With the blocks carved, sanded, and hollowed, it is time to join the wing and fuselage into one unit. I know that this is a bit out of sequence, as we have not discussed the wing construction yet. We’ll do that a bit later and you can put things in proper sequence as you proceed with building.
This component assembly is where most potentially great stunt ships are ruined, and it’s also where the really great flying ones are for the most part made! The accuracy of the wing/fuselage and the stabilizer/fuselage joints are of supreme importance.
   Each model builder will have pet methods of achieving this accuracy of component joining. Use whatever method works best for you. I’ll give you a brief rundown of a method that I’ve developed that actually allows me to not even have to check the alignment.
   The actual opening that needs to be cut in the fuselage sides for the wing is not the airfoil section at the center. It’s not even close. So how do we determine the wing’s exact shape where it will pass through the fuselage sides? The wing tapers in both planform and thickness to a point about 1 1/8-inches out from center before it passes through the sides.  I reasoned out that the exact fuselage opening shape was easily available. I cut an extra foam wing panel and covered it with 1/16-inch sheeting only a few inches out on the panel, and then figured out the exact position of the fuselage where it passed over the wing. I marked this position and then band sawed the extra wing panel chordwise at that point. That cut yielded a perfect wing-opening template, and that is what I used to draw the wing opening on the plan.
   I actually use the airfoiled piece of sheeted foam as a “plug gauge” to fit the wing perfectly to the sides when I’m preparing them. If positioned perfectly on the wing’s centerline on the fuse side, then when the wing is installed it should fit the opening perfectly and also have no incidence. Seems reasonable, don’t you think?
I can supply this accurate wing-opening gauge on request. If you opt to use this gauge, do not outline the opening of the wing with pin punches when you are laying out the fuselage sides. Instead, make an accurate centerline in the wing cutout area and use the gauge to mark out and fit the wing opening.
   It further dawned on me that if I were to trace the tip shape onto pieces of sheet balsa, and maintain the same centerline to bench measurement as at the fuselage, I could hold the tips in exact alignment. This would give me four points at which the wing is being aligned automatically. I know this is a bit hard to visualize, so take a quick look at the photo of this line-up procedure. That should explain the concept better than the proverbial 1,000 words it replaces.
The entire fabrication of a fuselage crutch is outlined in extreme detail in Robin’s View Productions’ Stunt Flyer Video Magazine (SFVM), Volume 2, No. 3. The details of preparing, tack-gluing and carving the balsa blocks is covered in Volume 2, No 4 of SFVM, and the hollowing process is explained in detail in SFVM Volume 3, No. 1.  The fuselage and wing alignment details are covered in Volume 3, No. 2 of SFVM (All of these programs are now available on DVD).
Note that I use a piece of thick foam as a line-up table. This foam piece is cut very accurately to be perfectly flat, and it is two-pound density foam, so it’s very stable, virtually impervious to weather and humidity changes and parts can be pinned to it.
I set the fuselage crutch assembly – with the wing saddle piece removed – over a centerline that runs from front to back of the foam board. I put the tip plates (a lot like the alignment tip plates on an I-Beam wing) onto the wing at either end. Then I drop the wing into the fuselage opening. In every case that I’ve tried this method (about 10 planes now), the tip plates contacted the foam alignment table while the wing fit into the fuselage opening perfectly. If the tip plates are flat on the board, and the fuselage is flat on the board, and the wing fits the opening perfectly, precise alignment in that plane is achieved. The only thing that needs to be checked is the lateral skew. By scribing a line that is 90 degrees to the fuselage centerline, a triangle can be used to check this skew and the wing can be brought into perfect all-around alignment very quickly. In truth, I don’t even check the incidence measurement anymore! It has to be perfect if all the required parts touch the board. Again, the photo (And certainly the DVD program) will help to make all of this much more understandable.
I install the wing saddle piece before gluing the wing in place permanently. It should also fit back in place perfectly with no gaps or need for fitting. Align the saddle perfectly and pin, then glue the wing to the saddle piece carefully. Let this assembly dry and then unpin the fuselage/wing assembly from the board and turn it over. Finish gluing the wing to the fuselage sides above the wing at this time.  
Add the balsa braces across the fuselage/saddle breaks and then mix up a batch of micro balloons and epoxy. Apply a very small radius (1/8 inch or less) fillet all around the fuselage to wing joint on the inside. Do not fillet the outside of the joint at this time. Let the epoxy mixture cure thoroughly.  

For some reason I don’t really like building tail assemblies, and so I usually leave this until the wing is installed in the fuselage. In the case of the Caprice, the tail assembly is very simple to construct. It’s made from 3/8-inch sheet balsa, and it is sanded and tapered to an airfoil shape.
   Cut out the stabilizer from fairly stiff balsa. Something in the 6 to 8-pound density range should do nicely. Remember, there is more “stuff” in the nose of the “modern” Classic stunter, and it will probably require a bit of tail weight to balance properly. Might as well make some of that required weight serve some purpose! A stiffer stab will not bend under high load conditions, yielding more precise control inputs and better stabilizing properties. It is, after all, a stabilizer...
   The elevators can be made from a bit softer material if you wish, say 4 to 6 pound stock. Once the parts are cut out, tack-glue them together on a flat board. Scribe a centerline all around the perimeter, and also make marks where the stab will mount to the fuselage sides later on. These should run chordwise on the stabilizer.
   Carefully carve and sand the stabilizer and elevator assembly to a pleasing taper and airfoil. Do not carve or sand the center section where the stab will mount; leave that area square.
   Carefully break the assembly apart, bevel and hinge the surfaces and install the control horn assembly. Everyone has his or her own favorite method and sequence here, so have at it.
   I like to wait to actually glue the stabilizer/elevator assembly in place until the bottom block has been glued on. The bottom block stabilizes the assembly and makes it much easier to achieve accuracy in the tail alignment. So, at this point it becomes necessary to install the tailwheel wire and mount.
I use slightly thinned aliphatic resin glue to attach my balsa blocks to the fuselage crutch. I learned this from my very good friend, and stunt-flying buddy, Mike Spedaliere. He told me that by thinning the glue and also slightly wetting the areas that are to be glued together will result in tighter joints that require less sanding and filling. He was so right!
Wet the face of the block to be glued and the corresponding fuselage side face with a saturated Q-Tip. Next, apply a liberal bead of thinned aliphatic glue to the fuselage side and position the block carefully. Several strips of masking tape are then pulled tightly over the block and attached to the fuselage side. This will pull the two pieces tightly together and cause the glue to ooze out of the seam. A wet paper towel should be at the ready to use to wipe away all of the excess glue.
   Once the glue has dried, a small maple block with #220 grit sandpaper glued to its surface makes sanding the seam smooth an easy job. Accept nothing less than perfection here, as the glossy finish will reveal any uneven surfaces later on.
The next step is to assemble and fit the pushrods, install them and mount, align and glue the tail assembly to the fuselage crutch.
   Follow Tom Morris’s control system installation instructions carefully in making up the parts and installing them. This system is flawless, and Tom does a much better job of explaining the requirements of installation than I could hope to here.
   If you were careful in carving and sanding the stabilizer and elevator assembly, then you should have a perfectly square stabilizer center section that will fit perfectly in turn in the slot in the top of the fuselage sides.
   Align the model over the centerlines on the foam bench (or whatever bench you choose to use) with the stabilizer in place. Align the skew and glue! Again, I don’t even check the incidence alignment, as it has to be perfect. If you are not convinced, please feel free to measure and check the alignment just to be sure your model is perfectly aligned.
   Next, glue the rear deck block in place using the process described above in installing the bottom block. Sand the block/fuselage side seam carefully.
   Install any desired cockpit detailing in the forward top block and install it in the manner described, and sand the seams when dry.
   I just knew that this Caprice would end up a bit nose heavy, and so I installed two, 1/4-inch inside diameter, brass tubes, vertically, in the tail block.  These tubes accept 1/4-inch outside diameter brass weight slugs. I figured that I would be able to compensate for the extra engine, muffler, and prop weight in this manner.  
Ironically, the new Caprice came in finished at an astounding 39 ounces! That’s very light for a foam-winged model of this size for sure. I did add a bit of tail weight just before flying in the Nats Classic event in 2003. It was very windy there, and I figured that a bit of tail weight would help the turn. It did! The finished, trimmed weight of the Caprice turned out to be exactly 41 ounces. I’m very pleased with this weight and also the final flight trim.

I used a triple cored wing in place of the solid core wing that was used on the original, but the Classic Stunt rules allow for that kind of internal change. In fact, you can change internal structure to your heart’s content, so long as you do not change the exterior appearance or the dimensions of the finished model.
   The original solid core foam wings from Foam Flite did have two holes spurred through the inside wing to allow the leadouts to pass through. The landing gear blocks in those early wings were just sunk into the bottom at the proper place and attached with great gobs of epoxy. They were not tied into the skins on both sides of the wing, and there were no spars. It was not uncommon for landing gear blocks to pull out of those early wings on a regular basis.
   When I began cutting foam wings for myself, and my friends, in 1968, I also began trying to engineer a better landing gear installation method. I came up with the ribs (or clips) and plates scheme that is shown on the plan. This system has worked so well over the years that it has become pretty much the standard that all C/L foam wing builders have opted to use.
There is a specific sequence to making and installing these clips that I would like to go over now, and it begins with spar fabrication and installation.
   In order to layout an accurate spar location, I like to mark the spar position on both sides of both templates (Root and Tip). My templates are actually half templates that have an accurate airfoil shape on one side and a centerline.  When I cut each panel I transfer the spar marks to the top of the cut surface. The template is then inverted and the second cut made to achieve a symmetrical wing. The spar marks are made on both the upper and lower surface of the core at both ends.
   Once the core is sanded, I connect the corresponding spar marks and scribe the position of the spar onto the surface of the core. Typically I use 1/8-inch wide spars made from either rock hard balsa or from Lite-Ply (Poplar plywood). The 1/8-inch spar usually goes out just beyond the point where the landing gear plate will end (I usually make it extend one inch beyond the point where the plate ends). I have a set of templates that pin onto the surface of the core on either side. Using the hot wire, I cut the spar slots very accurately.
   The next step is to fit the spar into the slot. I do this by slipping an oversize piece of balsa or plywood into the slot and marking a pen line onto the wood using the core as a guide. If I’m using balsa for the spar, I then simply cut just outside the lines to get a spar blank, glue it in place, and then sand it to match the core’s surface. No matter which type of wood I use for the spar, I glue them into the cores using aliphatic resin wood glue such as Titebond or Elmers.
If I’m using Lite-Ply, I cut the spar so it sits below the core’s surface line by 1/16-inch on either side when installed. If the plywood is allowed to come right to the surface of the core, a stress riser will appear after the model’s finish shrinks or ages due to the dissimilar shrink rates of the two types of wood.
Fill the gap between the spar in the slot and the surface of the core with a strip of balsa glued to the spar. This strip is then sanded to conform to the core’s surface on both sides. Now the spar material that contacts the skin is the same type of wood, and no stress riser will result later on.  
   Once the spars are in, I layout the positions for the Lite-Ply landing gear rib or clip locations. I use the 1/8-inch spar cutting template to cut these slots from the leading edge, all the way back to the front surface of the spar in each core. Then I slide a piece of 1/8-inch Lite-Ply into the slots until it butts up against the spar and scribe the airfoil shape onto the plywood using a ballpoint pen. The plywood is then removed.
   Each model will be different in respect to the layout of the slots that must be cut in the ribs or clips to accept the landing gear plates. The plates need to sit in the wing deep enough to allow a cover plate to be fitted and held in place with 4-40 screws. Refer to the rib clip drawing. It shows a typical rib or clip for the Caprice. It is shown as a guide on how to layout your own ribs or clips should you make your own foam cores. Note that the landing gear clips that are to be installed in the inboard wing have clearance for the front leadout. In a wing as thin as the Caprice’s, the clearance for the leadout will be minimal if the bellcrank is mounted in the exact center of the wing from top to bottom. I prefer to mount my bellcrank about 1/4-inch above center so the front leadout will have some extra clearance as it passes over the landing gear system area in the front cored out section. This will in no way negatively affect the flight performance of the model. Wild Bill Netzeband long ago proved that the model flies from the tether point at the end of the inboard wing, in relation to the CG. Technically, the bellcrank can be mounted anywhere that is convenient and allows a straight and unobstructed run of the leadout to the tip.  
   The front section of each of the two panels, of course, will have to be internally cored out before installing these Lite-Ply landing gear ribs permanently. The plywood ribs should be smeared with the aliphatic resin glue, and slid into their respective slots in the cores. Be sure to get the correct rib in the correct slot! Place a piece of waxed paper in the lower cradle half of one of the panels in the landing gear area, and then set the panel in place and align it carefully. Push down on the Lite-Ply landing gear rib to insure that it fits against the airfoil shape in the lower cradle. Let the ribs dry completely. If any of the plywood extends above the top of the wing panel, carefully block sand it flush to the core using the two ribs as a support for the sanding block.    
   After the cores are covered with 1/16-inch balsa skins, the plate area can be carefully opened and the plates installed. The area around the plates can then be framed with balsa and the covers installed.
I prefer to make my landing gear plates from 1/8-inch Lite-Ply and then mark the location of the landing gear torsion strut on the surface of this piece. I then make two 1/4-inch wide rails from 1/8-inch basswood and glue them onto the plywood plate in such a manner as to form a perfect 1/8-inch slot in which the landing gear torsion strut will ride. Scrap 1/8-inch balsa pieces are then glued to the main Lite-Ply plate on either side of the torsion rail pieces to fill in out to the edge of the main plates.
I fit a spur block made from 1/2 x 3/8-inch maple to the end of the plate where the torsion strut bends up into the wing. This spur block is engineered to face up against, and glued to, the inner plywood rib when the plate is being glued permanently to the two ribs. A 1/8-inch diameter hole is drilled through the plate and on through the spur block to allow the landing gear wire stub to be inserted.
I know, it sounds complicated, but it really isn’t. Included is a sequential group of photos that show this process in detail. The fabrication of the landing gear plate system is also shown to very good effect, and in great detail, in the Lost-Foam Wing Building System DVD set that is marketed by Robin’s View Productions. I highly recommend viewing that DVD set before attempting this type of landing gear installation for the first time.
   For convenience, Robin’s View Productions also offers custom cut cores that have the landing gear plate system ribs already installed. The cores come ready to cover.
RVP also offers a completely finished foam wing set for the Caprice (and almost any other design as well). These wings come covered and sanded, with extremely accurate, molded leading edge caps installed, trailing edges installed, landing gear ribs installed, and the landing gear plate and cover system installed and ready for the landing gear strut to be installed. Triple coring as per the plans is included with these wing and core sets.

Control system installation in a foam wing can be confusing if you are trying it for the first time. Let’s go through it here in detail.
   The first step in installing a bellcrank in a foam core wing is to suspend it in the middle of a piece of 1/8-inch diameter music wire. Washers or long brass grommets with an inside diameter of 1/8-inch, soldered to either side of the bellcrank bushing are used to accomplish this. Tom Morris’ phenolic bellcrank kits come complete with all of the hardware needed to do this, including the long grommets mentioned. His bellcranks are also offered with very neatly installed flexible leadouts with annealed brass bushings that prevent the leadouts from sawing through the bellcrank. I highly recommend that you order your bellcrank with these leadouts installed. If you opt to install the leadouts yourself, now’s the time to do that!
   Once the bellcrank is properly mounted to the wire post, the post is in turn mounted just behind the spar in the inside wing panel. I like to place the pushrod center on the centerline of the wing, and this requires filing a slot into the inside wing panel on both top and bottom. This slot is filed right up against the rear face of the spar.
   The bellcrank assembly will now recess into the inboard wing and allow the pushrod to be exactly on the wing’s centerline. File the notch as deep as required to achieve this positioning. I like to scrape the foam from the rear of the spar just outboard of the slot. This allows me to glue scrap balsa pieces onto the spar on the top and bottom, making “lands” or “ledges” for the bellcrank post to sit against.
   Remember to position the bellcrank slightly above the centerline of the wing as viewed from the side, and then tack glue it in place against the scrap balsa lands. Be sure that the leadouts have been fed through the wing’s coring holes and the landing gear clips properly. Install the pushrod onto the bellcrank, as per Tom’s instructions, and place the inboard wing panel in the lower wing cradle piece from which the core was cut. Align it perfectly so that the centerline of the wing is parallel to your flat workbench top.
Next position the outer wing panel in its cradle piece and align it in the same manner as you did the inboard panel. Hold the rear end of the pushrod at the height that it will eventually intersect the flap horn. Note where the pushrod requires clearance in the inboard panel, and carefully cut away the rear foam spar and the top sheeting until adequate clearance is achieved.
Now slide the outer wing panel in place against the inboard panel and again note where clearance relieving is necessary and then cut as required. Check the bellcrank movement through its entire rotational range to insure that nothing is even close to interfering with its travel or the pushrod movement and then you are ready to join the wing panels.

Joining the wing panels
Joining the foam core wing panels into a single piece is a very simple task, but you must be certain that the wing halves are perfectly positioned in their cradle pieces and that the wing centerline at both the root and tip on both panels is equidistant from the table top. I like to glue 1 1/2-inch long pieces of round wooden toothpicks into the holes that were used to attach the templates onto the foam blanks at the initial cutting of the cores. The toothpicks will guide the wing halves together accurately.
   You can use either three-hour epoxy or aliphatic wood glue to cement the wing halves together. The glue joint is really not where the main strength of the assembled wing comes from anyway. Once the wing is installed in the fuselage, strips of fiberglass or carbon matt will be glued across the center joint seam. This, coupled with the assembly glue, gives the wing its required strength.
   You can design your wing with a joiner spar that goes out a short way into each wing half, but on a model of this size I have never found that to be necessary. On larger foam core wings I absolutely use the joiner spar, and design the wing so that the joiner spar will slide up against the individual spars that are glued into the wing halves. This in essence combines when glued together to make one long spar. Again, this piece is not really needed in the Caprice in my opinion. I’ve flown this model in some extremely windy and turbulent conditions and the wing is absolutely rock solid.
   Once the panels are joined, you can add the wing tips and the adjustable leadout guide, and install the tip weight box in the bottom of the outside wing panel. Be sure to hollow the tip blocks as much as possible to get the maximum amount of weight out of them. Remember, even a tenth of a gram adds up in a 10-plus “G” maneuver. Take out lots of tenths of grams, and you will eventually start to shed ounces!
   I like to apply two or three coats of fairly thick dope to the wing at this point and then cover the entire wing with .2-ounce carbon fiber matt. It’s important if you choose this route to use the soft carbon matt that is available from several sources. I get all of my carbon products from Aerospace Composite Products. Their address is listed in the manufacturers/suppliers list at the end of this book.
   I like to overlap the center section a bit with the matt. This yields a double overlap at the center section when the entire wing is covered. That is all the center section reinforcement that is on my model! I’m very careful not to sand the carbon matt that lies over the center joint; this material is critical and should not be touched after application in that area. If you feel more is needed for peace of mind, be my guest, but remember, it all adds weight!
   I have found that it’s best to apply the carbon fiber matt using extremely thin dope. In fact, I thin my application mixture almost 90 percent! Yup, that’s 10 percent clear dope and 90 percent thinner. Why? The thin dope will easily go right through the matt and soften the first coats of dope that you put on the wood. This will in turn attach the matt from below, preventing “puckers” or bubbles later on.
You can work the soft carbon matt around compound curves fairly easily. It’s okay to make overlaps with carbon, because, unlike silkspan, you can later block sand the seams until they disappear. It might be best to experiment on some scrap balsa to get the technique perfected.
Here’s another hint: Don’t put too many coats of dope on the carbon before sanding. If the dope is allowed to build up too much on the surface of the carbon, it will be almost impossible to sand. But, the carbon will sand very well if only a coat or two of dope is applied before sanding. In fact, that’s a good rule of thumb; put on two coats and then sand, and then two more and sand again. At this point the wing is actually ready for fillercoat! Hold off on that until the entire airframe is assembled, carbon covered and sanded properly.
After the wing is covered with the carbon matt and doped and sanded, add the sheet balsa flaps, and hinge them using your favorite method.
I like the new Great Planes Medium size plastic hinges. I use an X-Acto #11 blade to make a very accurate slit right on the centerline, and then enlarge this slit to the hinge thickness using an X-Acto #27 saw blade. The saw yields a perfect slot into which the hinge can be installed, without having the hinge produce a “lump” on the surface of the parts being hinged.
Install the hinges using aliphatic wood glue, and then pin them using round wooden toothpicks. Hold one loose hinge in line above one of the hinges that is installed in the wing and flap and use it as a guide to drill a hole through the hinged surface. Each of these hinges has several holes molded into the tangs. Line up the center hole to use as the drill guide. This hole is made just slightly smaller in diameter than the diameter of the barrel of the wooden toothpick at its widest point.
   Push the toothpick pins in place and then feed in a bit of aliphatic glue to secure them. Then use a pair of diagonal cutting pliers to snip off the extra toothpick that’s left on either side of the surface you are hinging.  Leave enough extra on either side to block sand flush. Later on, in the finishing process, cover these holes with small round dots of carbon matt.
   I pin all of the hinges on my planes, but you can get away with just pinning the first and last hinge on the flap. Be sure to anchor the horn bearing to the trailing edge of the wing using plywood retainers. These should be securely glued to the wood sheeting on the wing. I like to fit the flaps and install these retainers before I carbon the wing, to insure a solid attachment.  
   Dope and cover the flaps with carbon matt in the same manner as you did the wing. At this point the wing is ready to install in the fuselage crutch assembly as was described earlier.

At this point there are only a few details that need to be completed before beginning to apply the finish. The cowl holdowns need to be fitted and the opening cut in the cowl for cooling and to allow the battery clip to attach to the glow plug. Every modeler has his or her own favorite methods for these operations, and so I’ll not go into detail here.
   Don’t forget to install the plywood piece that bolts into the bottom of the tank compartment area. This piece adds an amazing amount of torsional rigidity to the nose, as mentioned before, and should not be omitted. The plans show the positions of the plates that have to be epoxied into the tank compartment to accept this plate.
   The landing gear wires have to be bent to shape and the spats need to be accurately glued to them. Here’s a tip: Tape two pieces of 1/8-inch diameter music wire together and bend both landing gear struts at one time. After you separate them you can make the appropriate bends on each landing gear strut to get the proper angle forward as shown on the plan. In this manner you will be assured that both struts are the exact same length.

Every modeler has his or her favorite method of finishing a stunt model. I will briefly go over the method I prefer. Please understand that the finish on the Caprice was applied in just seven days to make the self-imposed 2003 VSC deadline. If there had been more time available I would have let each coat of paint dry more completely before moving on. With that said, the finish has held up well. This is being written almost six years after the model was finished and there is some grain apparent, but not as much as I expected, and a coat of wax every now and then seems to bring the finish back enough to garner good finish points.
   Again, I covered the Caprice with .2-ounce per square yard carbon fiber matt. This is available from Aerospace Composite Products. As mentioned previously, only use the carbon matt that has no sizing in it. The sizing will not fill consistently, and when sanded it will reveal pin holes that are difficult to fill completely, The carbon matt without sizing is very consistent and does not have the pin hole problem. The carbon requires only about four coats of moderately thinned dope and a couple of thorough sandings to be ready for fillercoat.
I like to put in the fillets after the carbon has been applied. I’ve been using a new fillet material of late, and like it better than anything else that I have used in the past. The material I’m now using is marketed under the name “Super Fil.” I get mine from F&M Enterprises. Super Fil is a two-part mixture that is mixed 2 to 1 in either weight or volume. It has a pot life of 1 hour at room temperature, making it easy to get the shapes you desire without rushing.
For fillercoat I use Aero-1Filler mixed with Brodak clear dope. The Aero Fill material is actually zinc stearate. This is the same substance that gymnasts use on their hands before performing on apparatus. Apparently the zinc stearate absorbs moisture. In our case it expands up when put into the dope and makes a great and very lightweight, filler.
Randy Smith, owner of Aero Products -- the company that packages this Aero-1Filler and markets it to our hobby – suggests using only about two tablespoons of material per quart of un-thinned dope. Two tablespoons of Aero-1 Filler weighs very little, and so the resulting filler cannot weigh much at all!
Thinned, the Aero-1 Filler/dope mixture sprays extremely well. The best part, however, is how it sands. This material powders off the model with very little sanding. I have found that I can completely sand a model the size of the Caprice in one sitting of about three hours! That’s a great time and labor savings.
I usually apply a coat of the filler and let it dry for a week before sanding with dry #320 grit no-load sandpaper. Like I said, the Caprice was on the fast track for completion and this was not possible. I sprayed on one fairly heavy coat and cranked the heat up in my shop to accelerate the drying time. A day later I sanded the airframe carefully with the #320 paper. There was no time for a second coat.
I use the Billy Werwage technique of spraying on a blocking coat mixture that is made up of two parts Brodak Polar Gray dope and one part Brodak Insignia White dope. This mixture covers very well in a thin coat and blocks out the color of the carbon and the fillets and yields a surface color that can be easily covered with any other color desired. In my case that was a coat of Brodak Insignia White dope. I have found the Brodak White dope to cover very well, and not quite one pint was used on the Caprice to achieve a very opaque surface on which to apply the colored trim.
I used Brodak Madrid Red dope and my favorite Dupont Acrylic Lacquer in Copper as trim colors. This has sort of become the standard trim for me over the years…
The letters and numbers were applied using Brodak Jet Black dope. I use stencils that I cut from Contact brand shelf paper to achieve the custom lettering and numbering. There are no decals or vinyl trim elements on my models; it’s all paint!
The clear topcoat was applied using PPG Global Clear. This is a catalyzed polyurethane product and I caution anyone who wants to use it to read and head the safety and health directions on the cans to the letter. This stuff can be very harmful if treated casually. Nuff said.
For a really nice finish, the first couple of clear coats should be dope. The dope can be easily sanded to eliminate the paint trim lines, and then coated with the polyurethane for a high gloss finish that is extremely durable. Again, time did not allow this, but the finish came out better than expected anyway.
The polyurethane cures within 24 hours to a point that it can be wet sanded with DuPont Prepsol and #1200 to #2000 grit wet or dry sandpaper. Sand until the surface is completely dull and even. It should look like “bone,” according to Mr. Werwage.
Once the entire airframe is sanded to an even dullness, the model can be rubbed to a high and lasting gloss using DuPont White Polishing compound followed by a high quality surface glaze.
Again, each modeler has his or her own favorite methods for finishing. The finish described may not be the ideal, but it was fast and it did yield 18 out of 20 points for appearance at VSC! I’ll take that.
You may have noticed that I didn’t paint my new Caprice black as I did the original. My thought was that black is a non-forgiving color, and I didn’t have the time to insure a perfect base. Even very minor surface flaws are easily seen in a glossy black finish. And, besides a black airplane is not the most logical color for flying in the hot Tucson environment.

The new Caprice weighs in at 41 ounces on the nose, fully trimmed. It is being flown on 63 feet of .012 solid Stress Relieved, Stainless Steel flying lines. I get my flying line wire from Jersey Strand & Cable in 10,000-foot spools. This allows me to change lines often and keeps the cost down. The address for Jersey Strand & Cable is supplied in the sources section.
I highly recommend that you buy your flying line wire in bulk (perhaps go in with a number of flying buddies and purchase a spool to keep the cost down) and wrap your own line sets. The thin solid wire can be bothersome to wrap by hand, so I also recommend purchasing one of Gerry Phelps’ custom line wrapping devices to make this chore much easier.
   Also available from Gerry (as of this writing) are the props that I’m using on the Caprice. The prop that seems to really work well is a carbon fiber unit that was designed and developed by Bill Werwage to use on the Aero Tiger .36 AAC motor in his Vulcan and Ares models. That prop seems to work on just about every model it has been fitted to that is powered by the AeroTiger .36. It is a 10.5-inch diameter by 4-inch pitch prop with a great deal of undercamber. The pitch can be easily adjusted using a heat gun and a pitch gauge, but most of those who are using these props seem to find that the 4-inch pitch number works best with this motor.
   Randy Smith at Aero Products is now carrying a beautiful copy of Billy’s prop that he calls the “Magic Prop.”  
   I’m using an Aero Products 2-inch diameter needle-nose Aero Spinner on the Caprice, and this seems to be just about the same exact shape as the Veco 2-inch needle-nose spinner that was used on the original Caprice. That spinner and the 9 3/8-inch nose moment really give the ship a long, sleek look, don’t you think?
   The plastic tank used in the new Caprice is a DuBro 4-ounce unit with uniflow plumbing. This uniflow plumbing was completely explained, and shown in detail, in Robin’s View Productions’ Stunt Flyer Video Magazine Volume 2, No. 2.
   The lightest “tongue type” muffler found for the Aero Tiger .36 AAC was the unit available from RJL. I also installed a pressure fitting to allow for muffler pressure to be fed to the tank via the uniflow vent. Aero Products also make an excellent tongue type muffler that will fit the Aero Tiger .36 AAC engines.
   At present the control throw ratio is a bit less than 1-to-1. The elevator moves about five degrees more than the flaps do at full travel. I may adjust this even further to bias out the flap movement. I have found that the model flies cleaner and turns smoother and quicker with more elevator movement in relation to flap movement. There is a limit to this, of course, but it pays to have the adjustable controls on board so that experimentation is possible.
   I’ve saved to discuss last what I feel is the most important component of the Caprice set-up. There are no words to convey how perfectly matched the power produced by the Aero Products’ Aero Tiger AAC engine is to almost any of the 1960’s era Classic stunt models. This is in my opinion the very best .35-.40 size engine available today.
   The Aero Tiger AAC is a hybrid engine that was developed by Randy Smith to use a custom made liner by Henry Nelson. It is smooth, reliable, consistent and extremely powerful. It also has the very best 2-4 run characteristics of any engine that I’ve ever owned, or run, in this size range. I wish I could convey in words just how good this engine really is. My highest recommendation is given here and I strongly suggest that you get one for yourself and experience just how wonderfully this engine performs.  
   The Caprice was done in time to take a few quick photos before loading it up and heading out to VSC.  


Chapter Eight

Running on Empty

Jackson Browne gets a lot of credit from me, in many respects, for his music and also for his outlook on life. On the trip to Tucson to attend VSC 15, he was pretty much solely responsible for keeping me alive for the first leg of the journey.
   Typically I leave for Tucson at 8:00 PM on Thursday night, the week before the contest begins. It has become a ritual. A grueling ritual to be sure, but I’m a traditional kind of guy, and this regimen seems to have worked pretty well so far. I usually work the entire day before leaving, having also spent the last few days before the trip finishing up a new model. My mind and body are at their best. No rest or appreciable sleep, fatigue, stress, long hours spent bending over a model, all add up to a complete, well-tuned and road-ready Hunt.
   I’m out of the driveway at home and on the road for exactly ten minutes before total exhaustion sets in. Hey, a new record!
   As mentioned, without Jackson (and Jerry Garcia, and Eric Clapton, and Albert Lee) I’d no doubt long since have been wrapped around a pole somewhere in the Pocono Mountains. Anyway, the six and a half hour trip to Bill Werwage’s house in Berea, Ohio has begun.
Jackson strains out the opening lines of “These Days” for the first of several command performances. And, despite his silent protest, I sing along, adding lots of harmonies that he really should have included in the first place. Stick with me Jackson, and you will go places… like Tucson this time.
Somehow I maintain at least semi-consciousness for the entire first leg and get to Billy’s at 2:30 AM. His mother is always glad to see me at that hour and greets me cordially. No, Mrs. Werwage, I do not think that Bill or I really need our respective heads examined, and, yes, this does seem like a reasonable thing for grown men to be doing.
Bill and I set to work loading the van with what has come to feel like every Classic stunt model east of the Mississippi. We transport models for Jerry Phelps, Bobby McDonald, Warren Tiahrt, and oft times for Mike Ostella. That’s in addition, of course, to my ship and Billy’s Ares. We have renamed my Chevy Astro van the Yorktown.
Actually, the loading process in 2003 was most anticipated by me. That was the first opportunity that Bill had to see my new creation, and I wanted to get his reaction. I proudly extracted it from its foam holder and handed it to Bill (I wanted to also get his reaction to the weight!).
Bill could no more than focus on the silhouette of the Caprice in the dim glow of his porch light. His first words? “Hey, that’s Gene’s 1969 ship!” Well, maybe I was too attached to Gene’s styling… But it did gratify me that I’d captured the effect that I’d been trying to achieve. The trip was starting off well!
Billy takes the helm for the next leg of the trip, and I get the chance to sleep for a long while. We get on the road at about 3:30 AM on Friday and arrive in Tucson on Saturday afternoon! Now Jackson, Jerry, Eric and Albert get to rest.

The Caprice was fitted with one of Randy Smith’s wondrous Aero Tiger .36 AAC engines, as mentioned before, but it hadn’t been broken in. So the first day at Christopher Columbus Field in Tucson was spent doing that, and also wrapping a set of .012 solid lines.
   First flights on a new Stunt model are just too nerve wracking, so I opted to take the third flight first and catch up with the first two later on, after I had total confidence in the ship. Hey, remember, I was tired!
   All kidding aside, the Caprice flew virtually right off the board. It didn’t feel inordinately nose heavy as I expected, but I did add just a bit of tail weight to slightly increase its turn rate. I put a short piece of solid brass rod into the tube that had been imbedded in the tail block during construction, and highly recommend that if you build a Caprice that you install that tube to allow fine adjustments to the center of gravity.
 The accurate construction and alignment techniques also paid off with a model that turned exactly equal both upright and inverted.
I knew instantly that this was going to be one of those very “special” models that come along only a few times in a lifetime. It was extremely stable, and locked after a hard turn as well or better than any model I’d ever owned. Those attributes can be credited to accurate building practices. Even the pushrod was perfect in length and needed no adjustment. That, by the way, is one of Murphy’s corollaries: “If you make something easily adjustable, you won’t ever have to adjust it.”
   After a week of practice before the contest, I came up just a few points short of catching Mr. Werwage. Hey, second’s not bad with a brand new ship!
   Since that time the Caprice has captured three consecutive National Classic Championships and two more second place finishes at VSC, behind Mr. Werwage and that pesky Ares. It has won five first place finishes at VSC (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011) as well.
In recent years I have been invited to stay with Warren and Barbara Tiahrt at their lovely home that is located about 40 minutes north of Tucson. I have opted to leave the Caprice out there and simply fly out and visit it for a few days at VSC time. Yes, my airplane lives better than I do! Many thanks go out to Warren and Barbara for their kindness and hospitality. The only problem is that I don’t get to enjoy flying the Caprice here on the East Coast during the summer contest season. I guess I’ll just have to build another one and keep it at home.  

This saga has spanned more than 40 years! I can’t believe that much time has passed since I first drew the side view of the original Caprice on my dad’s drawing board, using those “secret moments” with which Gene Schaffer blessed me on that trip home from New Bedford, Massachusetts.
   I would like to take this opportunity to give my most heartfelt thanks to all of those who have helped me along the way on this journey we call Stunt.  But, I would like to give a very special thanks to both Bill Simons and Gene Schaffer for getting me started in the right direction and mentoring me so well. They will always be my two very special brothers and I love them both.
   Please feel free to contact me with any comments or questions about the Caprice. I’ll be glad to help you in any way I can if you opt to build one.
   And, lastly, remember: It is possible to build a C/L Stunt model too light… But no one has ever done it!

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« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2015, 05:47:22 AM »

Caprice Epilogue and sources


I started writing this book in 2003. These last words are being written in October of 2014. Yes, I was in no particular hurry to get it done. Obviously, I have added a lot of thoughts and facts that pertain to this story as they happened over the nine plus years of its production.
My second Caprice has enjoyed a long and fruitful competition career, and it was flown for the last time in competition at the 2012 Vintage Stunt Championships. There have been subtle and thinly-veiled threats by those with whom I compete there (otherwise known as my flying buddies…) that if I continued to bring this particular model to that meet, I would be hanged and the model will be burned! I’m kidding, of course, but many have quipped about such things because of the dominance this model has displayed over the years. It has never in its career placed lower than second at any contest in which it has been entered. Together, the Caprice and I have only been bested by two competitors: Bill Werwage and Bob Whitely (in 2012 by half a point!). I’m very proud of that.
As I began writing this book, all of the principal characters mentioned in it, except for my father, James A. Hunt, were still alive. I’m very sad to report here that Gene Schaffer passed away in July of 2008. Gene did get the chance to read the lion’s share of the Caprice story and I know that he genuinely enjoyed it. He told me so in glowing terms in one of our last telephone conversations. I’m very thankful for that. In fact, Gene supplied the facts behind the events that caused his nervous affliction and blessed the use of that part of the story by me. Without that element I just could not have conveyed what it was really like to meet and know Gene effectively. Interestingly, Gene’s affliction, while very obvious when he was not flying, was virtually undetectable while he had the handle in his hand. Those of us who really knew Gene well did discover that when he was flying he would lift his left foot and shake it very slightly every few laps as he flew. It didn’t seem to affect his concentration at all and was one of the many endearing qualities of Gene Roy Schaffer.
In life we all have heroes. I have been blessed to have had many. To list all of them here would be impossible and pointless. I will tell you that there have been a handful of personal heroes whose influences have shaped a goodly portion of my life and my passion for the control line Stunt event. My father sits atop this short list along with Gene Schaffer, Bill Simons, Harold “Red” Reinhardt, and Larry Scarinzi. I cannot imagine what life would have been like without them, but I’m certain that it would not have been as wonderful as it has been.
This document might never have actually reached fruition and distribution without the help of another longtime friend, Chuck Holtzapple. Chuck has recently returned to the stunt world after a long absence. We picked up our friendship right where we left it many years ago and now we are in contact on almost a daily basis. I am most impressed by Chuck, who is a sort of Renaissance Man. He has expertise in many areas. One of his gifts is a grasp of the English language that supersedes my own by a bunch. In a conversation we were having after his return to the hobby/sport I mentioned the manuscript that I was writing about the Caprice. He expressed interest in reading it, so I sent a copy of the not-yet-fully-edited story to him. He responded with a lot of questions and we spent quite a bit of phone time talking about the model and the story. He asked me why I hadn’t published it yet, and I told him that it wasn’t yet finished and that it also needed a bunch of editing. To make a long story short, Chuck volunteered to do that necessary editing and in the process I believe that he has vastly improved upon the story I was trying to tell. Chuck: Here’s a from-the-heart “Thank You!”
When my life has run its course I know that will look back at the years in which I designed and flew the original Caprice as among the most enjoyable. I’ll also look back at the years in which I flew the replica Caprice as some of the most satisfying. Can’t ask more of a design than that.  


Sources for materials and products mentioned in this book

Aero Products, 980 Winnbrook Dr., Dacula, GA 30019; Tel.: 678-407-9376; E-Mail:; Web site:

Products used: Aero-1 Filler, Aero Tiger AAC engine, 2-inch diameter needle-nose Aero-Spinner, 10-4 “Magic Prop”and Tongue Muffler for the Aero Tiger

Aerospace Composite Products, Tel.: Technical assistance: 925-443-5900, Order by phone number: 1-800-811-2009; E-Mail:
Products used: .2-ounce/square yard carbon mat (or veil), without sizing

Brodak Manufacturing and Distributing Co., Inc., 100 Park Ave., Carmichaels, PA 15320; Tel.: 412-966-2726; E-Mail:; Web site:

Products used: Brodak clear and colored modeling dopes

Du-Bro; Tel: 1-800-848-9411; Web site:

Products used: 4-ounce plastic tank body

Tom’s Building Service, 327 Pueblo Pass, Anniston, AL 36206; Tel.: 256-820-6970

Products used: Ball-Link control system hardware and pushrods

Robin’s View Productions, PO Box 68, Stockertown, PA 18083; Tel.: 610-746-0106;

Products used: Caprice plan, Caprice covered foam wing with landing gear system installed (Cores and cores with landing gear system installed also available), Pre-built fuselage crutches, Molded fuselage shells, and Stunt Flyer Video Magazine programs

Gerry Phelps, 4175 Sacramento Blvd., Medina, OH 44256; Tel.: 440-289-3777
Product used: Custom made Line wrapping device, Custom 10.5 X 4-inch carbon fiber propellers  

F&M Enterprises aka: Stits Lite, 9910 Airpark Dr., Granbury, TX 76049; Tel.: 1-817-279-80445; Website:

Products used: Super Fil fillet material

« Last Edit: September 02, 2015, 09:14:55 AM by Bob Hunt » Logged
Bob Hunt
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« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2015, 05:18:41 AM »

For those of you who (like me...) have difficulty reading the small print on the forum threads, I can send a copy of the book text in Word format. Then you can adjust the type size to suit your ocular abilities. If you would like a copy in Word, please email me with a personal email account name to which I can send the file.

Bob (four eyes) Hunt   
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Electric - The future of Old Time Stunt

« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2015, 08:51:13 AM »

Thanks for sharing this with us.  It has been an amazing journey.  Your willingness to share your experiences and your talents with us says volumes of your character and faith.  Rest assured that the stunt community is a far better place because of the influence of the people you mentioned, but most of all because of you.  Thank you.

AMA 482497
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Electric - The Future of Old Time Stunt
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« Reply #5 on: August 28, 2015, 06:15:26 PM »

Hi Crist:

Thank you for those most kind and most appreciated words. Actually I feel it my duty to pass on any hints, tips, and/or modeling knowledge. I cannot "pay back" to those who helped me along the way, but I can "pay forward" to those who now seek information and help. This forum is a great vehicle for that...   Smiley

Later - Bob
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« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2015, 06:49:03 AM »

I'm going to post a bunch of photos of the Caprice, both finished shots and some building photos. Perhaps in the future Sparky and I can arrange these to fit into the text where they can augment the story. I'll post 8 or 9 per post until they are all up.

Later - Bob

* Caprice parts.01a.jpg (65.73 KB, 800x600 - viewed 369 times.)

* Capricefuse.07a.jpg (56.76 KB, 800x600 - viewed 296 times.)

* Capricefuse.08a.jpg (53.45 KB, 800x600 - viewed 295 times.)

* Capricefuse.09a.jpg (48.29 KB, 800x600 - viewed 280 times.)

* Capricefuse.10a.jpg (52.59 KB, 800x600 - viewed 255 times.)

* Capricefuse.11a.jpg (115.77 KB, 800x1067 - viewed 320 times.)

* Capricefuse.12a.jpg (75.39 KB, 800x1067 - viewed 276 times.)

* Capricefuse.02a.jpg (66.38 KB, 800x600 - viewed 285 times.)

* Capricefuse.03a.jpg (74.87 KB, 800x600 - viewed 324 times.)
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« Reply #7 on: August 29, 2015, 06:58:36 AM »

Next group of photos...

Note: Many of these were taken of the Caprice that I built for Roy Trantham. Sadly, he passed away just after I had shipped it to him. - Bob

* Shells.02a.jpg (68.53 KB, 800x600 - viewed 326 times.)

* Shells.05a.jpg (46.09 KB, 800x600 - viewed 288 times.)

* Shells.06a.jpg (45.17 KB, 800x600 - viewed 272 times.)

* Rich fuse shell.01a.jpg (54.56 KB, 800x600 - viewed 260 times.)

* Roy's Caprice .02a.jpg (75.37 KB, 800x600 - viewed 308 times.)

* Rich rudder.01a.jpg (56.72 KB, 800x600 - viewed 317 times.)

* Rich rudder.02a.jpg (55.9 KB, 800x600 - viewed 273 times.)

* Roys Caprice.01a.jpg (81.57 KB, 800x600 - viewed 318 times.)
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« Reply #8 on: August 29, 2015, 07:04:05 AM »

Next batch: These are not in any particular order.. - Bob

* Caprice09b.JPG (21.93 KB, 288x216 - viewed 354 times.)

* Caprice01a.jpg (40.92 KB, 800x600 - viewed 347 times.)

* Caprice02a.jpg (37.34 KB, 800x600 - viewed 286 times.)

* Caprice03a.jpg (30.79 KB, 800x600 - viewed 319 times.)

* Caprice05a.jpg (52 KB, 800x600 - viewed 276 times.)

* Caprice06a.jpg (26.34 KB, 800x600 - viewed 268 times.)

* Caprice07b.JPG (31.49 KB, 352x264 - viewed 256 times.)

* Caprice10a.JPG (107.17 KB, 1400x1050 - viewed 364 times.)

* Caprice11b.jpg (40.19 KB, 800x600 - viewed 248 times.)
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« Reply #9 on: August 29, 2015, 07:11:03 AM »

More yet...

* Caprice12a.jpg (42.03 KB, 800x600 - viewed 298 times.)

* Caprice13a.jpg (37.94 KB, 800x600 - viewed 273 times.)

* Caprice15a.jpg (37.23 KB, 800x600 - viewed 280 times.)

* Caprice20a.jpg (31.6 KB, 800x600 - viewed 290 times.)

* Caprice21a.JPG (96.52 KB, 762x571 - viewed 286 times.)

* Caprice24a.JPG (90.3 KB, 672x504 - viewed 286 times.)

* Caprice30a.jpg (82.56 KB, 800x808 - viewed 394 times.)

* Bob Hunt Caprice. hubina.jpg (52.74 KB, 800x600 - viewed 359 times.)

* IMG_6259a.jpg (115.32 KB, 800x533 - viewed 278 times.)

* Caprice at VSC22.01a.jpg (16.95 KB, 800x599 - viewed 286 times.)
Jason Greer
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« Reply #10 on: August 29, 2015, 07:18:55 PM »

Thank you so much for sharing this, Bob. Once I started reading, I could not stop! I second everything that Crist said. I hope to see you next summer.

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Joseph Daly
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« Reply #11 on: August 31, 2015, 09:26:44 AM »

I started reading this and like Jason I couldn’t put it down until I was done. Very well written and I can relate a lot to it. When I came back to control line 2 years ago after not flying for since I was 15 (Only 26 years ago) and then I was only a sport flyer. Two September’s ago I went to Flushing Meadow Park with my Dad and I watched people like Wil and Jose fly and even Bob Lampione put a few patterns in, I said to myself this is something I want to be a part of. In reading Chapter 2 I was able to draw a lot of parallels to your story to where I am current in Stunt. I will say in the last year I have come a long way and that doesn’t happen without the help of great people in this sport, like you, Wil DeMauro who has helped me a lot with electric setups and batteries, Jose Modesto who saw what I was flying and gave me a plane so I could know what a stunt plane was suppose to fly like! And of course my Dad who to this day still supports my efforts and his grandkids efforts as well. Thanks Dad

One of the best things about stunt are the people you meet and their wiliness to help. After reading this I am even more inspired. Thanks Bob for all that you do!

Joe Daly 
Bob Hunt
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« Reply #12 on: September 02, 2015, 08:17:44 AM »

Jason and Joe:

Thank you both for the kind words. Now, as I wrote in the preface of the book, it's time for all of us to "take up the loom" and add to the fabric of the history of the event. We all have a story, and all our stories can and will help others. Everyone: Open a WORD file and start typing. Just get the stories out; you can edit them later. When the memories flow, stay on the keyboard until they stop.

Later - Bob Hunt
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« Reply #13 on: September 02, 2015, 11:35:06 AM »

HI Bob. Great read. I remember you at the New Bedford  Invaders contest.  I took a photo of you holding the repaired Nobler.  I also remember how very patient you were with me and all my questions about how to paint candy apple red and green like your modified Nobler. Also Gene and how he showed me the lead weight inside his Froom spinner and how it gave him a consistent engine run as a flywheel.
At VSC some time back I also purchased copy #18 and #19 of your signed Caprice plans. Now to build two. One with your foam wings and one perhaps with a lost foam wing. Get well my friend.  y1 Hoff
« Last Edit: September 06, 2015, 04:17:17 PM by Ty Marcucci » Logged

Ty Marcucci
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« Reply #14 on: September 02, 2015, 01:38:43 PM »

Hi Ty:

Yeah, that New Bedford meet was fantastic. Seems like a million years ago...  Undecided

Attached are a couple of photos of that candy red "Simonized" Nobler, taken a couple of months before that contest. Note, the rip wasn't in the tip yet.

Later - Bob

* nobler66low res.jpg (62.92 KB, 800x466 - viewed 339 times.)

* Nobler.01d.jpg (66.66 KB, 800x831 - viewed 399 times.)
« Last Edit: September 21, 2015, 02:41:37 PM by Bob Hunt » Logged
Ty Marcucci
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« Reply #15 on: September 05, 2015, 12:26:24 PM »

Try these two photos Bob.

* Scan0004.jpg (211.21 KB, 1700x2338 - viewed 431 times.)

Ty Marcucci
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« Reply #16 on: September 05, 2015, 02:38:02 PM »

Yup Ty, that's the contest day I referred to in the text! Thanks for posting those!

The date stamp on the photo of my Nobler threw me into a time warp of sorts. It indicates 1967, when I was certain that it was 1966 that I flew that ship in New Bedford. In fact, it had to be 1966; the chronology of the story just doesn't make any sense otherwise. I flew the original Caprice at the GSCB contest (Days of Tundra chapter) just before leaving for the Army in 1968, and at that point it was just about one year old, which means it was built over the winter of 1966-'67 and first flown at the Millville NJ meet in the spring of 1967 as noted. That's all fact, but the date stamp on the photo had me really confused... Until I Googled date stamps on photos and found out that they reflect when the print was made, not when the photo was taken. Whew! Thought I was losing what mind I had left!  

Note that the rip in the outboard wing tip described in the text in the "Secret Moments" chapter can be clearly seen in Ty's photo of my "Simonized" Nobler.  

« Last Edit: September 05, 2015, 03:04:49 PM by Bob Hunt » Logged
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« Reply #17 on: September 06, 2015, 08:04:01 AM »

HI Bob. Taken with my new Kodak Instamatic. I didn't get the film developed until after I got back from the Med. So the date is about 6 or so months after I took them.  I usually waited until I had four or five  film cassettes to develop before I took them in to the camera shop. Hoff
« Last Edit: September 06, 2015, 04:12:51 PM by Ty Marcucci » Logged

Ty Marcucci
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« Reply #18 on: September 06, 2015, 05:23:21 PM »

This is of you holding the "repaired" Nobler. 

* Bob and his mod Nobler.jpg (67.98 KB, 1191x702 - viewed 490 times.)

Ty Marcucci
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« Reply #19 on: September 13, 2015, 06:14:48 PM »

Hi Bobby,  old DOC Holliday here finally got thru the read and the pictures.  I still vividly remember meeting you in the hanger at Lake Charles.  I was trying to compete in F2C racing.  My pilot Bob Hill(now deceased) and I was making a set of line with the little tabs that helped add speed to  the planes.  Sure glad we helped get them out lawed.   My pilot and I were not used to such speeds.  After we split up a chap by the name of David Adelman talked me into flying the full stunt pattern.   Then him and his lovely wife moved back where he originated from.  But, I want to thank you for a great story of modeling history.   Hoff

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fred cesquim
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« Reply #20 on: June 09, 2016, 04:37:26 AM »

hello Bob,
just finished this delicious reading!
I am building and flying model airplanes in Brazil since 1986, when i was 13...
i still remember the first time i saw your name, on a Flying Model mag teatching how to make wheel pants. My english reading was marginal, but i managed to read and the cleaning building and masterful job stunned me. Since then i strived for the same on my buildings and i had a instant Hero to follow: Bob Hunt
Your book is amazing in details and trully talented on the writing, you simply can´t stop reading!
thanks a lot for the book and for being so nice to share with all modellers your hardly earned knowleadge!
all the best from Brazil
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« Reply #21 on: June 10, 2016, 05:11:00 PM »

My Pleasure, Fred!  Grin

Thanks for the very kind words,

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thomas creasey
« Reply #22 on: December 28, 2016, 08:10:32 PM »

great read Bob.....I have this book marked for when I start building the Caprice....thanks for posting

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