BUILDERS CORNERFred Daams's Story
In 1934, when I was 6 years old I first got excited about airplanes. That was the year when the London times newspaper set up a race for commercial Airlines and other aircraft from London to Melbourne, Australia. The Dutch Airline competed with a DC2 and won. Another aircraft I remember was a De Havilland Comet, a sleek two engine racing machine with a tandem cockpit. We listened to the race over the radio in those days.
In 1938 I started building model aircraft, mostly biplanes, of which I got the 3-view drawings from a Dutch Aviation magazine, the Vliegwereld (the Flyworld). They were carved out of scrap wood from my Dad's carpenter shop, who was a contractor and built homes. Already in those days we were looking anxiously at Germany, where Hitler was getting ready for war. Rumors were going around in the fall of 1939 that he would attack Holland in November of that year. But not until April 1940 did the world explode, and it woke us up on the 10th of May 1940, when at 4 in the morning Messerscmitt 109's (about 20 of them,) were attacking the little Dutch airbase, where we lived next to and the 20 mm. rounds from their cannon were falling in our backyard, leaving a little plume of smoke.
My Dad took us downstairs and we crawled under the kitchen table, not a whole lot of protection, but we survived. Germany told our government to surrender after 5 days of fighting, when they bombed Rotterdam with their Heinkels 111, and the Ultimatum promised that all the big cities of Holland would be bombed, killing a 1,000 people or so. The Dutch did not want anymore bloodshed so they gave up. But the Germans lost 328 airplanes in those 5 days, mostly Junkers 52, their transport aircraft.
I already had my models hiding in my Dad's workshop.
During the war things were tough, but I could still build models. My models included the P-40, the Fokker D 21, G-1 ,T-5 bomber, the B 17, Short Stirling, Spitfire, Short Sunderland, Dornier 215 etc. My second strafing occurred in March 1945, when two Spits were already roaming Northern Holland at 500 ft. from already liberated bases in Southern Holland and Belgium, looking for German traffic, the only ones on the road anymore. My Dad and my 18 yr. old sister had borrowed bicycles to go to the Hague to pick up stuff from my brothers estate (he was killed in a strafing in January that year.) I noticed two Spits flying low looking for targets. We immediately went for a ditch as a German looking truck was heading for us from the other direction. The driver stopped 150 ft or less away and got out to join us in the ditch, but he ran right through the fire from the guns and collapsed in the middle of the road, killing him instantly. Due to the heavy crosswind they missed the truck, but killed the Dutchman, who was driving the garbage-truck for the Hague. The only traffic on the road.
Lots of bad things happened during the war, including the death of my American cousin from Albany, NY, who died the second day of the Battle of the Bulge, Dec 17,1944.
We found out about his sacrifice after the war. As a young guy I was feeling my way a round what to do after the war, I had already learned English, French and German during my school days during the war and proceeded to get into the automobile business with my brother, learning to fly gliders on the weekends, so in 1948 I already knew how to fly. I had a lot of contacts with Canadians, and Americans in those days and spoke fluent English, having English speakers over at the house and taking them sailing.
I qualified for pilot training in the Dutch Air Force in 1950 and fortunately was sent to the States For Training with the USAF! So I flew T-6's, F-80's and F-84's going back to Holland upon completion. Came back to the States at the end of 1955 and married a Gal from Indiana. Soon I started to build my own Glider in Phoenix Arizona, got it licensed by the FAA and flew it for several years. Ended up working for the Boeing Co. in California as an inspector, then later with GE as an Airline Representative, working with Lufthansa, Swissair, KLM, USAF, Air Force One and China Eastern Airline in Shanghai. Retired in 1992, living in Southern Colorado.
First building a Bleriot 11 for the Aircraft Museum in Pueblo and now building a static display model of the Spit, using a different method of construction as you might see in the pictures.
I have used mostly 1/8 birch plywood for the bulkheads and the skin and now I am about to get my propeller from the museum and make a special mount for it as I will not use an engine, only fake exhaust tubes, but it will all look like a real Spit, when I get through with it.
Any questions you may direct to email me.
Pictures of things Fred has made over the years
A French Bleriot Fred built for a museum Fuselage going together Fuselage out in the sunshine
Temp Gear & Fuselage with frame installed Great view of fuselage Fred with fuselage frame 4
More pictures of the fuselage and frame 4
Fred has many talents, like making these rocking horses, these babies from Norway were recipients of one!
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