Schweiss Counter Gene Fuchs Keeps Three Planes and Schweiss Bifold Door Flight Ready | Schweiss Must See Photos
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Gene 81 years young and flying high

Gene Fuchs standing in front of one of his three planes

Gene Fuchs of Morgan keeps his Schweiss Hangar Doors busy and one of his three planes in the sky.


If Gene Fuchs of Morgan had been born at a later date he most likely would have been a World War II fighter pilot. Fuchs is not a big man in stature, but he's alway been big on flying. A military flight instructor Fuchs knew once told him he would have been the perfect fit in a military cockpit.

Fuchs stands by one of his awsome looking planes.

Gene Fuchs, now 81, has logged over 10,000 hours in the air since he first started flying at age 15.

With no war to fight, Fuchs did the next best thing, he started flying at age 15 in 1946 with his neighbor Ed Rieke who owned a J3 Piper Cub and later with his buddy, Marv Battig, who flew a PA-11. Then it was time for him to buy himself an airplane.

His first plane purchased in 1951, at age 19, among many others to come, was a two-seater 1946 Luscome 8A Master, powered with a 65 h.p. Continental engine. He held onto it for a couple of years, selling it later in order to buy some farm equipment. Fuchs recalls those early years very well.

"Right about World War II, I'd see formations of trainers and fighters. One time there was 25 of them that flew the section line behind the farm. They were all at low level, 500 to 1,000 feet. I looked up and wished I could be one of them. I saw a lot of airplanes fly. There was a DC-3 mail plane from Sioux Falls that would fly over every day at 5 minutes past 7 in the late afternoon. It was right on time every dang day. I also saw C-47s during the war years pulling three gliders, one right behind the other, past the farm.

Fuchs stands by the awesome looking engine on his 1942 Stearman PT 13D.

Fuchs stands by the awesome looking engine on his 1942 Stearman PT 13D.

Fuchs is now 81 years old and just as spry as he was in his earlier years. When you talk flying with him, his eyes light up. He still does a lot of flying in his assortment of planes; a 1942 Stearman PT 13D, 1976 180 Cessna and his bush plane, a 1997 Super Cub fitted with big tires or hydraulic skis or floats. He says he doesn't like one over the other, all three are his favorite. He calculates he probably has over 10,000 hours logged in the sky's over every state in the Union, Alaska and Mexico.

"I've used to take hunters out west, fishermen up to Canada and line up halibut and salmon fishing trips in Alaska. Most the time I had to find a place to stay. One time a nice lady told me when you get to Dillingham (a remote Alaska fishing village) just ask for Matilda. She found a place for me to stay,"said Fuchs. "I made 29 trips to Alaska picking up and delivering planes. For over 30 years I delivered airplanes all over the United States for friends in the aircraft business. I've been in every state many times and flew to Mexico for 15 years."

Fuchs stands by the awesome looking engine on his 1942 Stearman PT 13D.

Fuchs uses his 1976 180 Cessna year round and has floats and hydraulic skis for it.

In all those times he said he never had a close call but had to make 10 or 11 forced landings and never got a scratch. Those forced landings were mostly a result of engines stopping, vents on the fuel tanks freezing up, some had been on the ground for quite some time. He had to check them out prior to leaving and a few quit on him due to water in the fuel, even after he had drained the tanks. Brings to mind the old saying "Any landing you can walk away from, is a good landing."

"Flying in Alaska was the most fun and had the most beautiful scenery. I pretty much followed the AlCan Highway, but would take shortcuts up river valleys. At times the radio operators would ask if other pilots could follow me. I had a commercial rating. When I got my commercial rating I had to do it with a FAA examiner and he didn't even have to go through the whole thing."

"I farmed all my life - never had a job," said Fuchs with a smile on his face. "I had 500-plus feeder cattle and did custom corn shelling for about 20 years, mostly in the 50s." He still lives on the farm with his wife and favorite hunting dog Tuffy.

He thought he got his first Schweiss hangar door in the early 80s and had read about them from ads Schweiss Doors placed in Trade-A-Plane, and also knew of him when he was working in Fairfax.

Fuchs purchased his first Schweiss Bifold door in the early 80s and said it has been performing well ever since.

Fuchs purchased his first Schweiss Bifold door in the early 80s and said it has been performing well ever since.

"Mike was building doors already, but they were all little ones and I needed something bigger. I talked to Mike about it and he said,'We can give it a try.' I was the instigator for what Schweiss Doors is doing today. I guess you could say I started Mike Schweiss off in the big door business," said Fuchs with a smile.

That bifold door was a 36-footer. You could get a Stearman through that because it only had a 32 foot wingspan. The other planes he had to put the nose up to the door and swing the tail around.

"That first door still works real good, never had any trouble with it. Me and my neighbors installed it. It was easy with my loader. The only thing I had to do with that door was replace a V-Belt on the electric motor this winter, even the original heavy duty cables are still on it," said Fuchs.

He liked that door so much he decided to order another Schweiss Bifold door for a hangar he built at his lake home south of Itasca Park in northern Minnesota in 1997. It's a 47 ft. door with 16 ft. clearance. This one was installed by the Schweiss Door crew and he said he was glad Mike talked him into getting a remote opener on it.

Schweiss Liftstrap bifold door helps Gene get his three planes into his machine shed fast.

Gene Fuchs 45x18 ft. Schweiss liftstrap/autolatch bifold machine shed door gives him enough room to wheel in all three of his airplanes or farm machinery.

Fuchs said he prefers the bifold model over the hydraulic Schweiss door. He figured that when he wasn't around, if he left it open he would have less problem with winds. He also likes the fact that it provides some shade, drains the rain away from the front when open and snow and ice is never a problem.

"I never had a problem with this cable door either it still works like a clock and from day one it always wound up straight," said Fuchs. "I also have a 45x18 ft. bifold liftstrap door on my machine shed at the farm. Sometimes I have 6 in there. I like the straps on my big machine shed door, they work fine, it winds up a little faster, and all my doors seal very well."

He said he has recommend Schweiss Doors to many other people. He's very pleased with them and said Mike always treated him good, and likes the fact he keeps improving his doors.

"I was the instigator for what Schweiss Doors is doing today. I guess you could say I started Mike off in the big door business."

- Gene Fuchs

Trusty dog, Tuffy likes to pal with Fuchs around the hangar, but prefers to get out and hunt pheasants with Gene even more.

Trusty dog, "Tuffy" likes to pal with Fuchs around the hangar, but prefers to get out and hunt pheasants with Gene even more.

A grass landing strip sits just behind Fuchs farmsite grove. He's able to wheel out there right from his bifold hangar door.

A grass landing strip sits just behind Fuchs farmsite grove. He's able to wheel out there right from his bifold hangar door.

A grass landing strip sits just behind Fuchs farmsite grove. He's able to wheel out there rightfrom his bifold hangar door.

Four patented Schweiss Bifold liftstraps easily open his 45 ft. machine shed door. It's also equipped with autolatches.

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