The Spirit of St. Louis…

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  • Last reply 1 year, 9 months ago
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  • gary sausmikat said 1 year, 10 months ago:

    Hey All,

    Coming off the heals of my first topic, Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo, I’m off to my next matinee.
    I am planning two builds based on another book, turned movie, The Spirit of St. Louis, staring my all time favorite actor, fellow Pennsylvanian, Mr. James Stewart.

    Though I am an ardent military aircraft modeler, the Ryan, N-X-211 is my favorite aircraft of all time.
    When I first read the book, the picture inside the cover, of Luck Lindy, a small dot over the Atlantic ocean, put it all in perspective for me….Wow, what an accomplishment! This is when the Spirit became my favorite airplane. I’ve visited this aircraft many times at the Smithsonian but never tire of seeing it.
    I record and watch the movie every time it’s on. Hmmm, you’d think by now I’d own the dvd.

    Davids’ movie group has inspired me to finally model this aircraft and accomplishment. I am planning one scene be based on the book’s picture mentioned above and the other will be from the movie, when Lindbergh is taking off from Long Island and has to get over the trees and power lines.

    These two builds will also give me the opportunity to model with card stock models…..a first for me and something I’ve been wanting to try.

    Lets’ just hope I can, in my own words, KEEP IT FUN!

    4 attached images. Click to enlarge.

  • gary sausmikat said 1 year, 10 months ago:

    Just ordered the dvd via Amazon. Of course using the iModeler Amazon link to help the cause.

  • david leigh-smith said 1 year, 10 months ago:

    I’m so happy that this group has been the catalyst for you to finally model this iconic and hugely important aircraft. I can sense how much it means to you and the influence Lindbergh’s adventure has held in your imagination. The fact you are now embarking on your own adventure with this project and experimenting with new techniques is testament to your own ‘spirit’.

    Corny and chintzy as it may sound, I feel privileged to be some small part in this endeavour. Given your skills (the Kingfisher dio is a work of art) many people here will take great pleasure in sharing your journey.

    Thanks, Gary.

    Saturday, Dec 6th, 1941…


  • Robert Royes said 1 year, 10 months ago:

    Great subject choice! I remember as a yout building a real small model of the Spirit . it was part of a combo kit that included the Wright flyer. Here’s a shot of the one in The Cradle of Aviation Museum in Long Island NY. I believe that Ryan built three aircraft.

    1 attached image. Click to enlarge.

  • gary sausmikat said 1 year, 10 months ago:

    David, Let me just say, with a well and deep meaning…..THANK YOU! I’m glad to be a part of and so well accepted by many, many talented people within the iModeler group. Wow! now the pressure is on to produce…..LOL

  • gary sausmikat said 1 year, 10 months ago:

    Another favorite pic of mine. Would love to have this oil framed on the wall.

    1 attached image. Click to enlarge.

  • gary sausmikat said 1 year, 10 months ago:

    Rob, Thanks for posting that. Another museum stop on my long list.

  • Deleted User said 1 year, 10 months ago:

    That’ll be a nice addition to the group….I remember seeing the “original” in the Smithsonian many years ago (I assume it’s still hanging there).

  • gary sausmikat said 1 year, 10 months ago:

    Hey Craig, Yes, the Spirit hangs in the Milestones of Flight Hall, just inside the entrance at the downtown museum.

  • gary sausmikat said 1 year, 10 months ago:

    This is the card stock model kit I will be using for the builds. Two modifications I will be making, scale it down and remove the flags on the cowl. The flags were added for Lindbergh’s US tour after his return from Europe.

    1 attached image. Click to enlarge.

  • Tom Cleaver said 1 year, 10 months ago:

    Since my writing mentor Wendell Mayes wrote the screenplay and my Special Graduate Seminar in Filmmaking Lecturer Billy Wilder directed it, and since it was my favorite movie as a kid and I questioned both about it, let me tell you the story of how it got made.

    For starters, it was Wilder’s least-favorite movie; he hated it. Not because of the subject, not because of anything that went wrong with it (as he said “I never made bad movies!”), but because of WHY he felt he had to make it.

    One of his favorite movies was “Ace In The Hole,” starring Kirk Douglas as a washed-up reporter who sees an opportunity to make his name again by exploiting an event (a guy who gets trapped in a cave-in). It’s typical Wilder: deeply cynical and sarcastic, and a dead-on take at American media. You can watch it today and the points it made in 1952 are only more obvious in 2018. However, it was made in 1952. During the rise of McCarthyism. It doesn’t present a picture of America as “The Holy Land.” Far from it. And so a Hollywood troll and hack – C.B. DeMille, a career right wing talentless hypocrite who spent 50 years “moralizing” while titillating with his biblical baloney 3rd-rate garbage masquerading as movies (none of his movies “hold up” today), who always knew from the first time he met Wilder that he wasn’t in the same universe with Wilder’s talent (and hated Wilder for that, like most talentless hacks do when confronted with their talented superiors), took the opportunity of the “controversy” about “Ace In The Hole” to go after Wilder for being “UnAmerican.” This was at a time when that term could get you killed (literally). He started calling Wilder “Mr. Villter” and implying that the anti-Nazi who had left Germany the night the Nazis won the 1933 election (“I packed all I owned in a steamer trunk and called a cab to the Berlin Station, where I purchased a one-way ticket on the Paris Express. I returned 12 years later, to find that all my friends who had called the Nazis “clowns” and thought of me as a crank for seeing Hitler and his scum for what they were, were dead – killed by the clowns.”) was some sort of subversive.

    As Billy explained it to me (My “graduate seminar” was three years of lunches every other Wednesday, when I bought two pastrami sandwiches from Carnegie Deli in the Beverly Hills “golden triangle” and brought them to his office, where he told all his stories and I listened. I was the only person he thought had talent, having read one of my scripts, who hadn’t heard his stories 50 times. Major takeaway, a lesson for more than folks in Hollywood: “If you don’t believe in what you’re doing, why should anyone else?”), he decided that “I would make the most American story there was, about the most American hero there was. And f**k you, DeMille!”

    Wendell Mayes, my writing mentor, had made a name for himself in live TV drama in New York. He came out to Hollywood and met Wilder, and got hired on a six-week project that turned into 18 months. Wilder bought Lindbergh’s “The Spirit of St. Louis” (I have my father’s 1928 First Edition of that, along with his 1927 First Edition of “We” as my prized possessions in my aviation library) The movie is a very straightforward adaptation of the book, exactly as Lindbergh told the story.

    Wendell and Billy and I used to laugh about the fact that Jimmy Stewart, who plays Lindbergh, was exactly twice Lindbergh’s actual age at the time he made the flight, when he made the movie, but as Wendell said “There was no other actor in the world who could have played the role,” and I’ll bet none of you who like the movie have ever worried about the fact that 54-year old Stewart played 25 year old Lindbergh. If you want to consider just how good an actor Stewart was, look at how he plays Lindbergh on the flight, sitting in a small cockpit, just handling the flight controls, and he rivets you. The moment where he deals with the fly, trying to decide if the fly hurts his perormance if it lands on the airplane structure – doing so to try and stay awake – is genius. That’s HARD TO DO. It takes serious acting talent.

    Back in 1977, EAA made a replica of the Spirit and flew it around the country to replicate Lindbergh’s tour. They came in to Sacramento Executive (He’d landed at Mather Army Airfield on the tour, where my then-boss, a 20,000 hour USAF pilot retired, who told me there was nothing romantic about aviation, except 9-year old him had ridden his bicycle 10 miles along the American River to get to Mather to see Lindbergh), and EAA members took turns providing security by sitting in the plane overnight. I volunteered for 0001-0200. I sat in that cockpit, using the cockpit light, and read my father’s copy of “Spirit of St. Louis” and contemplated his account of trying to stay awake at night over the Atlantic. I think I got pretty close to recreating the moment.

    Lindbergh did the flight to “promote aviation,” and that’s what he did. My air-minded father bought both his books, later graduated from the Boeing School of Aeronautics, worked for Roscoe Turner, and made such an impression on Jimmy Doolittle that when I met him at the Watsonville Antique Fly-In in 1976 and was introduced as “Tom Cleaver” he remembered my father (same name) and a lot of other people who wanted to talk to him had to cool their heels while he talked to me about my dad. (He had a photographic memory for everyone he ever met).

    Anyway, this will be good. For the movie, you can do Jennys and DH-4 mailplanes, and the Spirit.

  • gary sausmikat said 1 year, 10 months ago:

    Thanks for the insight, Tom. (it would take me forever to write that much…LOL)

    I agree…who cares how old Mr. Stewart was, he was the man for that part. (As well as another, similar movie, The Glenn Miller story.) One of my favorite scenes in Spirit, is when he meets the Ryan mangers/engineers while cooking the sand-dabs, such a down to earth scene….always the feeling I got from Jimmy in any of his movies. And given Mr. Stewart’s own flight experience, he portrays realism and passion, just how I imagine Lindbergh was about this flight.

    I had to chuckle about the fly scene. When I told my wife about this project she said I needed to model the fly inside the cockpit…..Hmmmm, I’ll have to dangle it from thread, so that will definitely add weight to the diorama. Also, I wish I had the article to remember all the details but I recall reading in Smithsonian Air and Space, a number years back, that Lindbergh would come into the old Smithsonian, after hours, and visit his airplane. Man, I’ll bet you could “actually see” his memories while he was sitting there reminiscing. To be a fly on that wall or in the cockpit to witness that.

    Thanks again Tom. Hope my builds do the book and movie justice.

  • david leigh-smith said 1 year, 10 months ago:

    Tom, you really knocked it out of the park with this post. Personal resonance, inside stories, and the best critique of Jimmy Stewart’s talents than I’ve seen for a long time. I think he is one hell of an underestimated actor and often criticized for being a character player, which is utterly wrong.

    That beautiful image of sitting in the cockpit reading your father’s copy of ‘Spirit’ will stay with me. Thanks for sharing that.

    Gary, this build is going to be special. I feel privileged that you are taking on this ‘bucket list build’ as part of the group here.


  • Tom Cleaver said 1 year, 10 months ago:

    Gary – given all your other super builds, I have no doubt you’ll do this justice. You’re also absolutely right about “The Glenn Miller Story.” I love the scene where he’s in Denver, talking on a pay phone. The building right behind him is the old Denver Public Library, which was closed a couple years later in favor of the new one (which has been since modernized according to a friend who still lives back there), which is where I began my career as an autodidact back at around age 10. Thank god for that library and the Saturdays spent in the stacks – I wouldn’t be who I am otherwise. Best part of having Wendell for a mentor (past being introduced to Billy Wilder) was getting to meet Stewart and talk to him seriously about his work.

  • Tom Cleaver said 1 year, 10 months ago:

    Oh David, the fact he was a *character* actor is why he was so good. Yes, it resonated as a “star,” but he was the first of the “star/character actors.”

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