Prototype, XM561 & M561 Vehicles
Roger Gamaunt Vita
Education One year junior college.
1941-1945 Served and wounded in action in World War II as aerial gunner in U.S. Air Corp.
1948-1957 Hughes Tool Company, Aircraft Division- Started as precision machinist and promoted up into engineering design and test departments on Pod installation of Mk 11 gun. In spare time designed and built an over the snow vehicle (Snow Kat) mounted on three big wood skis and powered by an aircraft engine and propeller. The vehicle would carry two persons in an enclosed cab. In addition, he designed and built a self-righting motorcycle sidecar (attached side cars were always rigid and did not allow motorcycle to be leaned to steer and then return to upright position). Patent #2702196,”Motorcycle Sidecar Coupling Means” was issued in February, 1955. As a young motorcyclist and years before meeting Roger, author remembers the unique design being pictured in a monthly motorcycle magazine.
1958-1959 Started working as a consultant. Developed “Pack Rat” vehicle with production rights sold to Twin Coach Co. Two patents were subsequently issued – “Track Laying Vehicle”- #3017942, January, 1962 and “Drive & Guide Sprocket for Track Laying Vehicle”, #3093006, June, 1963.Vehicle never went beyond early prototype stage.
1959-1966 Sold concept of a six-wheel, articulated vehicle to Chance Vought Aircraft. Served as consultant and test driver and participated in marketing.
1967-1968 Lockheed Missiles and Space Co., Ground Vehicle Systems Provided conceptual design of new advanced military vehicles. Author was employed there at the same time.
1969-19?? Hughes Tool Company Conceptual and preliminary design of helicopter ground vehicle and ground support systems. Received patent #3679154, July, 1972, for a “Heavy Lift Helicopter with Vertically Adjustable Cockpit”.
Roger was an accomplished machinist and certified combination welder. He was always doing design work on the side even when holding a full time job.
At the time of his death Roger was working concurrently on construction of a wood-framed World War I Spad airplane, a six-wheel drive, front and rear wheel steer, walking beam suspension motor home,(which the author has and hopes to complete someday (patents #3977693,”Heavy Duty Vehicle Chassis and Steering Mechanism”,August,1976 and patent #4153227, “Fluid Self Centering Vibration Shock Mount”,May,1979) and developing major modification kits (received five Supplementary Type Certificates (STC) for Navion aircraft. Roger was given a used 1947 Navion airplane by Chance Vought in order to facilitate his frequent commuting between Fawnskin, California and Grand Prairie, Texas. He learned to fly in it and soloed on February 22, 1963.
Harry Teasdall, Rogers lawyer, asked how he came up with his many ingenious ideas. Roger replied that it was really quite simple; “he just took the ideas from unsuccessful designers and turned them around backwards”. Such was the Gama Goat’s inventor.
Died 1987 Kidney cancer