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Author Topic: Gene's Stunt Machine  (Read 22041 times)

Offline Bill Little

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Gene's Stunt Machine
« on: May 05, 2010, 01:16:10 AM »
HI All,

After Jose posted the pictures of Gene's bubble canopy Stunt Machine, I can't get it out of my head.  I have PM'd, emailed and called Jose to get the low down on the differences from the published model and the bubble canopy one, but he stays so busy that I haven't heard from him.........

Does anyone else know the "skinny" on this model??  I would really like to build it as a bubble canopy version unless it really didn't fly as good as the turtle back version. ???

Thanks!
Big Bear
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Offline Randy Powell

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Re: Gene's Stunt Machine
« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2010, 09:52:57 AM »
Bill,

Me too.
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Offline Bob Hunt

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Re: Gene's Stunt Machine
« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2010, 11:01:01 AM »
The reason you didn't hear much about this plane is that it didn't fly well. Not a design problem, I'm certain, as the only real difference between this one and the "Known" one was the bubble canopy versus the turtle deck. I cut the wings for both Stunt Machines, and can tell you that the one presented in FM is horribly far off from what Gene actually built and flew. The wing design is totally different than the actual model and the moment arms are different as well. Can I prove this? You bet! I own the original Stunt Machine. Gene gave it to me and I actually flew it many times - even though it went clockwise! I just hooked up the lines reversed and flew it as though I were flying inverted. I even tried to fly the judge training flights with it at the 1982 Nats, where I was the Assistant Director of the Stunt event. I moved into an apartment back then and had no place to keep it, so Lou Wolgast offered to keep it at his place. When he moved from New Jersey to Tucson, he took it with him (with my blessings). Warren Tiahrt now has it and is in the process of drawing accurate drawings of it. We checked it against the FM plans last year and found immense discrepancies between the printed version and Gene's version.

Gene finished both Stunt Machines around the same time frame. When he flew the "bubble" version he didn't like it at all. He proceeded to do a wing over on one early flight and just decided to not pull out! The plane disintegrated on impact, but the engine "bounced" up into the air... and then landed on Bob Lampione's brand new and unflown Sabre Jet! It was an interesting day...

It is Warren's and my intention to try and get permission from Gene to sell the plans for the "accurate" and "real" Stunt Machine. We've been trying to track him down to ask his permission, but to no avail as yet. Warren and I both feel that it is inappropriate to sell those plans without Gene's okay. That would be stealing...

Later - Bob Hunt    
« Last Edit: May 05, 2010, 06:18:24 PM by Bob Hunt »

Offline Randy Powell

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Re: Gene's Stunt Machine
« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2010, 11:35:45 AM »
Bob,

Man, I would love to see the "real" plans. I've built a couple of the Flying Models version over the years. Always loved the design. From an appearance standpoint, I really liked the bubble canopy version more than the other. But both are very cool.

From an aesthetic standpoint, I think Gene and I (and you for that matter) just sort of see things the same way.   ;D

I know there were pics of both planes on this site recently, but I sure can't find them now.
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Offline Bill Little

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Re: Gene's Stunt Machine
« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2010, 11:40:48 AM »
Thanks for the information, Bob.   I hope you get hold of Gene real soon! ;D

Bill
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Offline jose modesto

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Re: Gene's Stunt Machine
« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2010, 03:47:06 PM »
Hey Randy here is the bubble version.
You can look at the section AS TIME GOES BY By less Mcdonald LETS TALK GENE SCHAFFER.
The story that i got was probably a cover, the story goes that Gene could not decide which was better and he decided by the method described By Bob Hunt.
photo of Bubble Stunt Machine and "THE STUNT MACHINE"
Here is photo of USA AMA this model is classic legal but much larger than the Stunt Machine 630 si with rather long moments. This model flown at 1970 Nat's. built around a Mike Stott foam this model and Bob Lampione's Fox 59 Saber were built around thesame time and flown in 1970 Nat's.
 Bill it has been a rough year for me, the best person for info on the Stunt Machine would be Bob Lampione and Bob Hunt
Hope to see you at Brodack if you could make it.
Jose modesto.

Online Bill Morell

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Re: Gene's Stunt Machine
« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2010, 04:24:19 PM »
So what version is it that Walter is offering and how accurate is it?
Bill Morell

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Offline Bob Hunt

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Re: Gene's Stunt Machine
« Reply #7 on: May 05, 2010, 05:29:41 PM »
Walter is offering that which is available: The magazine version. There are no available plans for the actual, accurate-to-the-original Stunt Machine... yet!

Warren and I have been actively searching for Gene on the Internet. He's a musician who is once again "gigging"; that we know. Hopefully his name will pop up in regards to that part of his life. In all we have spent several hours in search over many days. If anyone has a clue to his whereabouts, please enlighten us!

I was in regular contact with Gene, who lived in Vero Beach, Florida, until the twin hurricanes hit there a few years back. Then, nothing! I had feared that Gene was a victim of the storms, but subsequently heard that he had been spotted at a "Du-Wop" concert, where he was asked to stand up and take a bow because he was at one point the lead guitar player for Joey Dee and the Starlighters! Gene also played for 8 years with Tony Pastor's "big band." And he also played backup guitar on occasion for Frankie Avalon and even Peggy Lee!

I know the fact that we will not "release" the plans for the Stunt Machine hits a sore point with a few out there; but I will not sell plans for any design without the knowledge and consent of the actual designer. Warren feels exactly the same way on this point. In this case the design's rights are owned by Carstens Publications. Gene would have to go to FM and request that the rights for kitting or plans reproduction be reassigned to him, and then he could give permission for them to be sold, or sell them himself. 

Bob Hunt

Online Bill Morell

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Re: Gene's Stunt Machine
« Reply #8 on: May 05, 2010, 05:43:59 PM »
Thankyou Bob!
Bill Morell

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Offline Bob Hunt

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Re: Gene's Stunt Machine
« Reply #9 on: May 05, 2010, 06:15:37 PM »
Just a bit more explanation on all of this: FM thought they were receiving the plans for the actual Stunt Machine. The man who actually drew the plans for publication apparently did not know that such things as wing airfoils and moment arms and such were important. Gene apparently did not check the work of the draftsman and so an inaccurate design was published. (That same draftsman did the plans for FM for Bill Simons' Shoestring and it was grossly inaccurate and Bill Simons' Aircobra, and it was also grossly inaccurate!)   

I suppose the argument could be made that since the "published" Stunt Machine was not accurate to the original, then the "real" Stunt Machine (The actual design that Gene flew...) is not copyrighted. I guess I could buy that argument. It still does not change the fact that the design is the intellectual property of Gene Schaffer and should not be offered for sale without Gene's knowledge and permission. Guys, there is simply too much of this going on in the modeling world and it is making me sick! We do not have the moral or legal right to sell plans for someone else's work. At least not without written permission. And, if the model was published, even the designer does not have the rights to reproduce a given model, unless he or she obtains the rights back from the publication in question.

There is a plans service that is based in Australia that is offering Genesis plans for sale. I receive nothing from those sales, nor did I authorize the person in question to sell them. He is stealing from me. I won't be party to doing the same thing to a fellow modeler, whether he is reachable or not.

Later - Bob Hunt   

Offline Tom Niebuhr

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Re: Gene's Stunt Machine
« Reply #10 on: May 06, 2010, 10:31:35 AM »
I think that I saw the "Jerseyan" on the Aussie site. Designed by John D'Ottavio, I wrote the article for Model Avaition. So the rights to the plans are with MA.

There is one more "Classic" design by someone that I use to practice with, that I would love to kit.  Since I have not been able to get in touch with him, I will not proceed.

There is too much work in developing an airplane to see someone making money off someone elses' hard work.

Bob, I hope that you get in touch with Gene. I know that he doesn't want to fly again, but it would be great to see him at VSC . Les was there, Bob Gialdini has been there many times. You don't have to fly to have a good time with old friends.


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Offline Bob Hunt

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Re: Gene's Stunt Machine
« Reply #11 on: May 06, 2010, 11:47:38 AM »
Hi Tom:

That's a big 10-4 buddy - Bob

Offline Randy Powell

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Re: Gene's Stunt Machine
« Reply #12 on: May 06, 2010, 12:05:15 PM »
I also agree, Bob. Good luck with finding Gene. Would sure be cool.
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Offline Bill Little

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Re: Gene's Stunt Machine
« Reply #13 on: May 06, 2010, 02:20:04 PM »
Hi Bob,

Having known you for quite a while now, and knowing how you are, I wouldn't expect anything else but for you to do the right thing.  Here's to finding Gene S. and getting his permission!  y1

I totally agree that someone's designs are their property, and no one else should profit from that without the originator's permission.

GOOD LUCK!
Bill
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Offline Bob Hunt

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Re: Gene's Stunt Machine
« Reply #14 on: May 06, 2010, 06:11:41 PM »
Hi Ty:

Well, close. This is how it works: If a magazine has the rights to a design by virtue of purchasing that design from a designer/author, then the designer himself/herself must approach the magazine to have the rights reassigned. At that point the designer can do as he/she pleases with the design. I know this is the method used by both Flying Models and Model Aviation, because as editor of each of those rags I had to write the reassignment letters.

Later - Bob Hunt   

Offline Dennis Adamisin

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Re: Gene's Stunt Machine
« Reply #15 on: May 06, 2010, 10:30:19 PM »
Hmmm this all gets perplexing.  The pix show 3 similar looking Stunt Machines.  Meanwhile the PUBLISHED version was probably never actually built by Gene!

Hope you can get Gene's permission to distribute the accurate plans...
Denny Adamisin
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Offline dennis lipsett

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Re: Gene's Stunt Machine
« Reply #16 on: May 08, 2010, 06:31:12 PM »
Huuuuuuummm, He's a musician and he is in Florida and he is working. That doesn't sound like it would be too difficult to find him. He is either in one of the musician's unions or is an independent and has a booking agent. Either way he is not invisible.Of course this is only probable if he wants to be found or the family wants his privacy respected.
Dennis

Offline Dick Pacini

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Re: Gene's Stunt Machine
« Reply #17 on: May 09, 2010, 06:52:49 AM »
I met Gene at the '73 Nats and he was an impressive fellow to be sure.  I had heard that he played with Joey Dee and the Starlighters and was privileged to see and hear him do:
 
"Well they've got a new dance and it goes like this
(Bop shoo-op, a bop bop shoo-op)"

Strangely enough, all the digging I have done on Joey Dee and The Starlighters has not turned up any reference to Gene Schaffer.  There was mention of a Gene Cornish, but his picture is definitely not Gene Schaffer.  It is a shame that the band's history makes no mention of him.
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Offline Warren Wagner

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Re: Gene's Stunt Machine
« Reply #18 on: May 11, 2010, 04:04:22 PM »
If Gene is actively playing as a musician, he probably belongs to a union.   Perhaps he could be tracked down through the AFM.   Here is the link to the "American Federation of Musicians".   I was a member a long, long time ago.

     http://www.afm.org/   

Cheers.

Warren Wagner

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Offline Bob Hunt

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Re: Gene's Stunt Machine
« Reply #19 on: May 11, 2010, 10:09:55 PM »
Hi Warren:

Good thought... and that's the first thing I tried! You just would not believe the creative thought that has gone into searches for Gene. We'll keep trying!

Bob Hunt

Offline Randy Powell

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Re: Gene's Stunt Machine
« Reply #20 on: May 12, 2010, 09:43:07 AM »
I'd do a Lexus/Nexus search. I use that in my work occasionally (my company subscribes). But you need to know a general location and correct spelling. but I'm sure you've already tried this.
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Offline Bob Hunt

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Re: Gene's Stunt Machine
« Reply #21 on: May 12, 2010, 10:39:20 AM »
Hi Randy:

Try Gene Schaffer in Vero Beach, FL

Thanks - Bob

Offline Randy Powell

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Re: Gene's Stunt Machine
« Reply #22 on: May 12, 2010, 02:21:03 PM »
Bob,

Is it Eugene? and is there a middle initial?
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Offline Bob Hunt

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Re: Gene's Stunt Machine
« Reply #23 on: May 12, 2010, 07:24:19 PM »
I'm pretty sure it's just "Gene." Not sure about a middle initial...


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Offline Randy Powell

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Re: Gene's Stunt Machine
« Reply #24 on: May 12, 2010, 09:54:49 PM »
I found 4 Gene Schaffers in Vero Beach. About 6 Eugenes in Vero and surrounding areas and one Gene X Schaffer. I'll do a cross check against musicians. who knows, it may turn up something.
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Offline dennis lipsett

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Re: Gene's Stunt Machine
« Reply #25 on: May 13, 2010, 07:12:50 AM »
Having a grim moment here but is it possible that he passed away. If so that can be checked.
Dennis

Offline Mike Ferguson

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Re: Gene's Stunt Machine
« Reply #26 on: May 13, 2010, 07:35:52 AM »
Having a grim moment here but is it possible that he passed away. If so that can be checked.
Dennis

Unfortunately, it can.

I'm so sorry in advance for what I'm about to post. It's not happy news.

I did some digging on the Internet last night, and came across this:

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/tcpalm/obituary.aspx?n=gene-roy-schaffer&pid=114455127

I went to the website of the funeral home after that, to try and make sure that it wasn't someone else with the same name. Based on what I read and saw there ... unfortunately, it indeed looks like Gene passed away in 2008.

So, so sorry to everyone who knew him.

One of stunt's legends is gone, but definitely not forgotten.

Offline Randy Powell

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Re: Gene's Stunt Machine
« Reply #27 on: May 13, 2010, 09:35:26 AM »
Mike,

That jives with what I found out too. I found a Gene R Schaffer in Vero that was a musician. I was going to post that until I saw your post.
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Offline Les McDonald

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Re: Gene's Stunt Machine
« Reply #28 on: May 13, 2010, 01:11:24 PM »
This is a sad day for me.
 I remember so well the night Gene and Bob Lampione called me after seeing the outline drawing of Stiletto #1 in the old American Aircraft Modeler magazine. I had just mixed up some epoxy, working on Stiletto #2 (which turned into the Tropicaire) when the phone rang. These two guys bantered and argued the whole time during that conversation and I was thrilled to death to be a small part of it.
 I hope Lampione reads this and understands how important that phone call was to me.
As I moved up "the food chain" Gene and I would sometimes bang our heads together during a competition but we always maintained respect for each other and our friendship was never in doubt. I never tired of hearing all the "eccentric" situations Gene would, usually, put himself into.
Gene truly was one of the great fliers and personalities of stunt.
Tonight I will have a drink in your honor, perhaps two.
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Average minds discuss events
Small minds discuss people

Offline Bob Hunt

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Re: Gene's Stunt Machine
« Reply #29 on: May 13, 2010, 05:23:51 PM »

I was very skeptical of this news until I went to the funeral home's website and viewed a photo of Gene. Indeed, Gene left us on July 27, 2008.

Gene was perhaps the most influential person in my life next to my father. I had many amazing childhood heroes, and, thankfully, many of them are still alive. But Gene was a hero that came after childhood for me; he was not only a friend, he was a brother. It would take me many thousands of words to explain just how much Gene meant to me and how much we did together, in and out of modeling.

I've decided to post here the first two chapters of my Caprice book which tells of the first time I ever saw Gene fly and also explains my first meeting with Gene. I sent Gene a copy of this text a few years back and he loved it. There are a few references to Gene's nerve affliction in the text and I asked him if he wanted them removed. He said, "No, leave them in there, they are part of the story." So the following is posted as my tribute to my all time modeling hero and the very best stick man I've ever known. If you never had a chance to see Gene fly in his prime then you have missed a real show...

Caprice

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 17 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 a placing or win 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 had 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, and 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.
He 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 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, and the ship was still vertical! 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! 
 

Caprice

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 also installed wing type landing gear in place of the normal fuselage mounted gear supplied in the Chief kit. A new fin and rudder with a rounder shape was installed. 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. In thinking back now, that was an awful looking model, but I was very proud of it. And, 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 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 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 and asked him if I could take a few minutes of his time and ask 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 16 hours to call Bill (Didn’t want him to think I was too anxious!) and began asking more questions. We lived about 10 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 in 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 I was at 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 would like to relate. I’ll save them for the book that I’m currently writing about my life in modeling and all of the wonderful people that I’ve met through 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 (The site where Shea Stadium stands today!) contest that coming weekend. I asked him if I could go along and 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. He 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 told 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 involuntary popping, clicking and snapping noises that he made with his mouth, and a number of unusual stretching gestures made with his neck, jaw and shoulders. 
Please understand that the following is told to you with a genuine respect and admiration for Gene, and is nothing that I wouldn’t now say to his face (I read this to Gene just to be sure that he was okay with this information being released. 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 started 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 again 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 that point from a strictly design point of view. It featured a torsion bar, fuselage mounted landing gear system, and there was 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 and feel the weight and look at the bottom of the model, and 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 neat 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, and 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, and 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.





 

Offline Tom Niebuhr

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Re: Gene's Stunt Machine
« Reply #30 on: May 14, 2010, 09:16:07 AM »
Under these circumstances, I have also taken the liberty to repeat what I have said on the other forum:

Bob,
Thanks for sharing this with us.

I was one of those shy kids about 1959 when I first saw Gene fly. I formally met Simo at the '61 Nats and Gene at the '61 Mirror meet.

I treasured every time I saw Gene fly and was exited when Gene invited me to fly with him. Would you believe that we flew in the middle of a traffic circle in the Bronx not too far from the Whitestone bridge!

Later on Gene and I would meet at a diner enroute to a contest in Pennsyvania or elsewhere on the way to a contest. Gene and I both would do the all night thing since we both usually had gigs the night before. I remember one time that we arrived in our separate cars at a Pennsyvania contest. We parked and took a nap. Harold Price came up behind us and blew his horn for a long time and laughed when we cussed him for waking us up. We could have killed Harold that day! But these are part of those wonderful memories.

In later years Gene and I had a great time at our house in NJ playing 4 handed piano. He was really a fine musician.

Over all these years I have only seen two flights that were close to the perfection that we all strive for. One was by my practice companion Ed Elasick. The other was by Gene Schaffer.

God Speed Gene.

Tom N



« Last Edit: May 14, 2010, 11:55:04 AM by Tom Niebuhr »
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Offline Randy Powell

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Re: Gene's Stunt Machine
« Reply #31 on: May 14, 2010, 11:23:28 AM »
I suspect we've all had those seminal moments that "hooked" us. And the people that generated them are close to our hearts.

Gene Schaffer was an icon of this event. He will be missed.
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Offline proparc

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Re: Gene's Stunt Machine
« Reply #32 on: May 14, 2010, 12:09:18 PM »
I came onto this thread late. So so sorry to hear about Gene. As Jose knows, Gene was my hero and flying role model. I remember him standing over me when I was playing with the flaps on his Stunt Machine, (the real one). I turned around and he said to me, "what are doing". I told him I was "checking out" his flap movement. He said, "that's the way it has to be". Those were the smoothest controls I ever felt on any airplane. He went on to tell me that either I learn to "build these things dead straight, or don't bother). He was right-trust me.

I remember at a contest at Flushing Meadows, Gene said to me "Milt, nobody corners tighter than I do, nobody".  Nobody ever did!! At times, Gene seemed to be more interested in pushing back the boundaries of stunt flying than actually winning. Windy Urtnotwski said that at a past Nats where Gene placed second, Windy watched his flights and that Gene won that Nats straight out-they simply screwed him over!!

I always felt and still do to this day, that Gene did not receive his proper due. From the first flight I ever saw him do at Flushing Meadows, it was immediately apparent to me, that this guy was some sort of flying genius. He was tapping into something that to this day, I still don’t fully understand.

Gene stated to me that, “the guy who flies the best is the guy who should win”. But, as I would find out, stunt was very political back then, and more often than not, that was not the case. Nobody will ever-ever convince me that Gene actually placed second five times. Just how many of those Nats he actually won, I don’t know, but, he can rest in peace knowing that he laid down some flights that probably nobody will ever be able to match.  
« Last Edit: May 14, 2010, 05:11:21 PM by proparc »
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Offline Bill Little

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Re: Gene's Stunt Machine
« Reply #33 on: May 14, 2010, 02:16:12 PM »
I am really saddened to hear of Gene's passing.  I never met him in person, but I have always heard so much about him from the North Eastern fliers.  His designs have always captured my attention, and from the way he could fly, I know I missed one of the very best of all time.

God Speed, Mr. Schaffer.

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Offline proparc

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Re: Gene's Stunt Machine
« Reply #34 on: May 14, 2010, 04:24:09 PM »
For Bob Hunt,

Having read your post about wanting to see that Gene, (or in this case, his estate) would receive proper compensation for his Stunt Machine design, was certainly admirable and needless to say, what we would expect from the “Genesis Man”.

That said, I feel as fellow stunt flyers, we have an obligation to see that our work gets properly published or manufactured, whether by generating a new article, or creating an addendum to an existing article. If I was alive or deceased, I would most certainly hope, that a work, or design of mine was published as I intended.

All too many times, I have heard “stories” about a particular design that was not either manufactured, or published as the designer intended. Considering the time, resources and effort that goes into making a stunt ship, I feel the prospective builder has, at least the expectation that what he or she is working on, is the real deal!!!

I would sincerely hope that you would use your editorial contacts, skill and personal knowledge of Gene’s design, to see that the “real Stunt Machine” gets duly published-ASAP.       
Milton "Proparc" Graham

Offline Bob Hunt

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Re: Gene's Stunt Machine
« Reply #35 on: May 14, 2010, 05:05:08 PM »
Hi Milt:

I was going to address this after a while. I needed some time to digest and come to terms with the fact that Gene is gone.

Gene didn't have any other family that I know of and so getting permission to republish and or kit his designs seems to have few roadblocks. His only published design was the Stunt Machine (in Flying Models), and that one was not the "real" stunt machine. The plans were drawn very inaccurately. Warren Tiahrt and I went over the actual Stunt Machine - which I own but is at Warren's home in Tucson - and carefully compared it to the plans in FM (Which I already knew were bogus). Warren is going to work up a set of very accurate plans for the real Stunt Machine and we will be offering plans and maybe even a kit for it with a foam wing - just like in the original. I cut the foam wing for the original Stunt Machine and there is a hilarious story about the day it was cut, but I will save that for a story that will go along with the plans and/or kit.

I also have the model that preceded the Stunt Machine in Gene's fleet of planes. We affectionately called that one the "Oosa-Amma." It had a giant USA on the left wing and and equally sized AMA on the right wing. When he first brought it to the field Billy Simons immediately named it the Oosa-amma! Hey, that's what it looked like... That model is on loan to me from Ray Moore's wife. Gene had apparently given that model to Ray and when Ray passed away his wife decided to keep it in memory of her husband and Gene. Perfectly reasonable. I will now get to work making accurate plans for it and then return it to her.

I also have been in touch with Robby Feinstein, who was Gene's Protege in the late 1960s. They built together a brace of Judge designs. The rough plans from which they were built are now long lost, but Robby still has his Judge (Which is an exact duplicate of Gene's except for the fact that it was built as a counterclockwise model). Robby is going to loan me his Judge so that I can draw plans for it as well. By the way, the Oosa-Amma and the Judge are both Classic legal; the Stunt Machine is not, but it is Nostalgia 70 (or whatever...) legal.

Now for the important part: I'm calling for anyone who is producing anything that Gene designed to donate a small portion from each sale to the FAI Team Fund in Gene's name. Gene was a two-time member of the United States FAI Team (1974 and 1976) and I believe he would have like this gesture. I know that I will do that in memory of my long time friend.

Later - Bob   

Offline Dennis Adamisin

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Re: Gene's Stunt Machine
« Reply #36 on: May 15, 2010, 08:02:47 AM »
I did not know Gene as well as a lot of you, I typically saw him at the NATs and Team trials.  However he was always a consumate gentleman and treated me well.  One of those guys who always demonstrated that you CAN be a tough competitor and a gentleman at the same time.  My dad and Gene hit it off from the start, and dad always enjoyed Gene's company.

Bob's story of the events over breakfast that day make me chuckle, and the "encounter" with the stereo speaker makes me cringe; I am AMAZED that Bob survived to tell the tale - if Gene didn't nail him I figured Simons would have!

So sad to hear of Gene's passing, and even sadder not to know of it until 2 years after.  God Bless you Gene.
Denny Adamisin
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Offline Steve Helmick

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Re: Gene's Stunt Machine
« Reply #37 on: September 05, 2010, 09:28:49 PM »
FWIW, this August, at the Prairie Fire Stunt event in Edmonton, they combined N-30 with Classic, so Monty Summach could fly his very nice Stunt Machine (from FM plans) officially. He'd built one as a teen, and just had to try another. Power is a Magnum XLS .36, with Monty's own tube muffler. I was one of the judges. It flew very well, but finished 2nd to a red Tucker Special. Lead the first round, but lost by something like 1.5 points.

Two years previous, I'd watched it fly and thought it looked a bit odd in the air, but I didn't notice that this time. In short, I think you could do a lot worse than just building it from the available plans. A carbon LG might be a good move, but on good smooth grass, it wasn't a noticeable problem.  H^^ Steve
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Offline john e. holliday

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Re: Gene's Stunt Machine
« Reply #38 on: September 07, 2010, 04:45:58 PM »
I did not know Gene as well as a lot of you, I typically saw him at the NATs and Team trials.  However he was always a consumate gentleman and treated me well.  One of those guys who always demonstrated that you CAN be a tough competitor and a gentleman at the same time.  My dad and Gene hit it off from the start, and dad always enjoyed Gene's company.


Not to hi-jack the thread,  but, anybody that couldn't hit it off with your Dad (Big Art) probably couldn't make it with anyone.  I met your Dad at one of the St Louis Team Trials.  I was trying to compete in F2C.  Never did get to meet Gene that I can remember.   H^^
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Offline Hope Schaffer-Colling

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Re: Gene's Stunt Machine
« Reply #39 on: November 30, 2014, 04:29:17 PM »
Hi Everyone,

My name is Hope Schaffer-Colling, I am Gene's daughter and only living blood relative as far as I know.  I would love to talk more about my dad's plans and his legacy but not in this public forum.  If anyone is interested in connecting, please email me at my personal email address, hopecolling@gmail.com.

Although I don't recognize any names in this forum, (apart from the mention of Bob Lampione), I do have fond memories of flying with my dad in the parking lot of the New City courthouse circa 1975.  If anyone has any photos or personal stories to share, please get in touch.  My parents divorced when I was young and I know next to nothing about my dad. 

With love,

Hope Schaffer-Colling
415 939 5297
hopecolling@me.com



Offline Bob Hunt

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Re: Gene's Stunt Machine
« Reply #40 on: December 02, 2014, 08:53:40 AM »
Hope contacted me via email a couple of days ago. I remember Hope when she was just a little girl! We exchanged emails and I sent her a bunch of photos of her dad, Gene. I also sent Hope the text portions of two books that I've written that have a lot of stories in them about Gene.

We spoke on the phone after that and had about a 1 1/2 hour talk. Hope is making plans to be in New York sometime in January, and we plan to get together so I can tell her more stories about her dad. Gene was, next to my father, the most influential person in my life. I'm so glad that I was able to fill in a few voids for Hope about her father.

Later - Bob Hunt   

Offline Dan Bregar

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Re: Gene's Stunt Machine
« Reply #41 on: December 02, 2014, 06:58:05 PM »
Way to go Bob !   :)  Very nice of you. 
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