DOODAH is a word that describes our former HAFFA member Lynn Chaffee to a Tee.
A little known bend in the AMA rules allows members to use a name in lieu of an AMA number so Lynn adopted “Doodah” as his handle so you’ll see it spelled out on his planes.
By Jeff Nisley
It is with great sadness that we no longer have our fellow HAFFA Club member and a truly honorable man, Lynn Chaffee. Lynn passed away September 22, 2017 and will be sorely missed by all who knew him.
I started writing this article back in April of this year having persuaded Lynn to come over to my house to interview him about the aircraft models he has built over the years. After thinking about it long and hard, I am going ahead with much of the original copy I wrote back in April:
This month’s Aircraft of the Month shown above, the Wanderer, was built by long standing member Lynn Chaffee around 2013.
The Wanderer was one of Lynn’s favorites. Lynn had a very funny and dry wit and was a bit feisty at times. Case in point: Lynn was really skilled at carving balsa wood props for his airplanes. Normally Lynn would try to follow the rules, but when he saw a fellow modeler with a similar plane using a folding prop, Lynn told himself “The heck with it (those weren’t the exact words) I will make one for mine”. the result is shown at left—and a mighty fine job at that. This author wants to acquire the same set of skills and when I asked him to teach me how to make one he said “Oh, you don’t want to learn from me”.
In addition to the Wanderer, a Photo Gallery at the bottom of this page highlights two additional airplanes of Lynn’s.
When Charles Lindbergh landed safely at Le Bourget Field in Paris at 10:22pm on May 20, 1927, Lynn Chaffee was just beginning his life. Lindbergh ushered in a new era of awareness of aviation and many youth at the time developed a fondness for model airplanes and aviation and Lynn was no exception. Considered by many, this “Golden Age” of model aeromodeling was strongest during the 20s, 30s and 40s.
During this time, newspapers reported the latest record breaking times and distances for full sized aircraft as well as model aircraft. At the age of 14, Lynn’s interest in model aviation peaked as a result of the news that Dick Korda’s model aircraft the Korda Wakefield (seen at left and below) won the most prestigious award in aeromodeling, the coveted Wakefield Cup in 1939 with a record breaking 43 minutes and 39 seconds.
After hearing this, Lynn had to have one of these of his own and as so like many boys at the time sent away for the kit that was produced by Megow Models. The Korda Wakefield shown at left was not built by Lynn and is shown for reference only. The Korda Wakefild has been built and flown more that any other design of Wakefield model and after 60 years is still a favorite model for Old Timer events.
At age 16 with a newly acquired driver’s license, he began helping his parents in the family’s sales and repair business featuring typewriters and office machines as a delivery boy. He became a good salesman for the business and worked there several years. An unforgettable memory occurred for Lynn during the 1951 Kansas City West Bottoms flood when he paddled a canoe through the front door of the family business to retrieve as many office machines as possible. This act enabled the business to continue.
In 1942 at the age of 17 Lynn graduated from High School and in Sept. ’43 at age 18 was drafted by the Navy. Lynn stayed in the service till 1946 serving 32 months. In the navy, he was sent to radio and radar school. During this time Lynn worked mostly on the Martin PBM Mariner Patrol Bomber of WWII.
It was considered an advanced flying boat for WWII. His work consisted of servicing radio and radar equipment both in the shop or in the plane. Lynn told me he was able to fly in the plane several times but mostly he worked on the ground. He is still proud to have achieved the honor of AETM 2nd Class or Aviation Electronic Technician Mate — 2nd Class.
This summer Brian VonBevern, the president of the Commemorative Air Force, made a very nice detailed scale model of the Martin Mariner and presented it to Lynn several weeks before he unfortunately died. Thanks Brian.
Over the years, Lynn has made many models, among them were several Jimmy Allen Kits sponsored by Skelly Oil Company. In the 30s Skelly would come out with a new design each year to give away as a promotion. He said they were tough to build, but none-the-less the process added to his model building skills.
This last summer, Lynn brought one of the Jimmy Allen planes that he built—the Blue flash Racer shown at right to one of the Open Hanger Days events.
At the bottom of this page is a photo gallery of this one and the other two featured in this article, the Wanderer (shown at the top of this page), the Blue Flash Racer Jimmy Allen, and the 1/2 Gollywock.
To quote Jeff Renz in an email, “Lynn built the first 1/2 Gollywock in the club I believe around 2014. Dana Field had found the Gollywock plans in the British Aero Modeler Magazine and brought plans to our HAFFA business meeting. Lynn took his plans home and built one right away. This has been our local bi-weekly club contest model for 3 years now. Lynn covered it with yellow and black tissue like a bumble Bee. He had just flown it in August and we were all impressed how he had got that little machine dialed in.”
The Photo Gallery below is a tribute to the workmanship of a fine model builder and one heck of a good man. Click on any of the photos and it will take you to a Slide show of the photos. Hit the Esc or Escape key on you keyboard to return to this page.
If you liked this “Model Aircraft of the Month” here is a list of the latest installments:
Evan Guyett’s F1D Indoor Model Aircraft — Feb 2018 Model Aircraft of the Month
Oct 2017 Model Aircraft of the Month — Lynn Chaffee’s Aircraft Models
Feb 2017 Model Aircraft of the Month — Jeff Renz’s A6 Indoor Model Aircraft
Jan 2017 Model Aircraft of the Month — Gary Hodson’s “Peanut Scale” 1926 Stout Ford Monoplane
Nov 2016 Model Aircraft of the Month — Mike Basta’s 1995 “Souper P-30”