Pilots Peanut pilot

September 1, 2013

craig schulzFrom the time Craig Schulz, 60, built aircraft models and briefly flew his Cox U-Control Curtiss P–40, he wanted to fly. The P–40 model was wrecked by a friend of his father, Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz, shortly after it was purchased. The goal was to be an airline pilot, so Schulz took a job as a flight instructor, got a helicopter certificate followed later by all the fixed-wing ratings, and started piling up hours that today total more than 10,000.

The Peanuts empire required his travel-averse dad to fly to Los Angeles from Northern California. The senior Schulz said he would travel, “anywhere in the world, as long as I can be back by lunchtime.” That required a jet and for many years the younger Schulz was sometimes referred to by the cartoonist as “my pilot.”

Was Craig the basis for any of the characters in Peanuts? The quick answer is that he was not. The characters are people his father knew growing up. That said, Craig once told a newspaper reporter that when Snoopy surfed, it was the same time he was surfing in Los Angeles. When Snoopy flew a helicopter, it was during the time Craig was flying helicopters. When Snoopy rode a motorcycle, Craig was collecting first-place trophies by the handful from his motocross career.

Gracing his hangar at Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport is a Curtiss P–40 fully restored after its recovery from Papua, New Guinea. It lacks the paperwork to fly in the United States, so Schulz keeps the engine working through a run-up on the ground every two months. Also in the hangar is his pilot recruitment tool, a 1940 Boeing PT–13B Stearman. When pilot Tim Duffy came to the Pacific Coast Air Museum’s dedication of the F–15 he flew as one of the first responders to the World Trade Center attack September 11, 2001, he got a ride in the Stearman.

Schulz has proposed to the airport that it follow through with plans for a grass runway and allow him to develop the “Snoopy Squadron,” a park where kids can come for rides in his Stearman, and see his P–40. It will open for public fly-ins on weekends.

His biggest project—in the works for eight years and in the Blue Sky Studios in Greenwich, Connecticut—is a world-release Peanuts movie, kept under wraps for a November 6, 2015, release. Schulz is the producer and, along with his son and his associates, a writer of the movie. Snoopy is probably the film’s stunt pilot.

Craig Schulz and Snoopy

Interview with the son of Peanuts' creator Charles M. Schulz (by Al Marsh)

Al Marsh

Alton K. Marsh | "AOPA Pilot" Senior Editor, AOPA

AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Alton Marsh has been a pilot since 1970 and has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates, aerobatic training, and a commercial seaplane certificate.