The museum portion of August’s Model Aviation “In the Air” column looks at Joe Konefes’ Buzzard Bombshell in the museum collection. There wasn’t enough room in the column to share all of the information related to the model, so it is shared here in a “deleted scenes” type format.
Joe Konefes built his Buzzard Bombshell in 1940 and flew it in mass demonstration flights at the 1940 Nats and regional meets. He set a Class C Open flight record with it at the 1940 Nats. His first flight was 49 minutes, 40 seconds. The official time for all three flights was over 58 minutes.
Joe almost didn’t have a Buzzard Bombshell model to fly at Nats. The second time he participated in a contest with the model, it was lost during flight somewhere in the wilds of Wisconsin. Luckily, over a month later, “a farmer’s cow shied at something in a tree and the lost plane was soon back with the rest of the Buzzard Flock.” In the October 1940 Air Trails construction article, Joe wryly comments during the first launch at Nats he gave a “short prayer of thanks to that Wisconsin cow.”
The Buzzard Bombshell design had been the winner of a Buzzards Club of Chicago contest for the best design to use for a club project and mass flights. Gordon Christoph was a member of the Buzzards, and also the owner of the Aircraft Co. kit company. Because the design had been a club thing, Aircraft Co. was the company that received the design and kitted the model. At the time, though, Joe was working for Comet. Rumors indicate that Comet wasn’t very happy when Joe shared the Buzzard Bombshell design with Aircraft and not them.
The July 1941 issue of A Boys’ Life described Joe’s flight, “Joe’s ship made a perfect take-off, grabbed a honey of a rising air current, or thermal, and stayed aloft for a forty nine minute official flight. By a trick wind shift, the plane drifted more than a mile away from the contest field, then circled around and came back for a perfect landing in front of the judges.”
Joe’s flight beat Carl Goldberg and his Zipper and Sailplane designs.
Joe fixed the covering and made some repairs to the model before it was donated in 1984. He donated it in memory of the Buzzards Club of Chicago, Illinois and its members: Grace and Gordon Christoph, Bill Englehardt, Harry Guenther, Shirley and Bill Klumb, Martha, Rita, Ed and Joe Konefes, Bill Lackey, Louis Lewald, Harb Maas, Ed Manthey, Les Paetz, Dick Scheffner, Mary Lou and Al Thorwaldsen and Joe Trefny.
Many thanks to Ed Konefes and Dan Kane, Sr. for sharing their memories of Joe and the Buzzard Bombshell with me.
I have one of the Original Kits , Got the Done and now working on the wings, Anyone have a idea of putting electronics in this one, I don’t want gas, I want a electric motor and GPS system so it does not go Boom if it get away from me.