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Stits

 Stits-01
 
Ray Stits developed the Stits covering and coatings process, now known as Poly-Fiber. He eventually sold the Poly-Fiber business to Alexander Aeroplane Company, owned by Ron Alexander at the time.
 
Stits established EAA Chapter One at Flabob Airport in Riverside, California. In 1962, he received the August Raspet Memorial Award and in 1994, he was inducted into the EAA Homebuilders Hall of Fame.
 
Between 1948 and 1965, he designed and built 15 airplanes. Except for the first two designs, he test flew them all. The reason for not flying the first two relates to the nature of the aircraft: they were the world’s smallest monoplane and then the world’s smallest biplane. Ray was too big/heavy to fit into them.
 
In May of 1952, he introduced the Stits Sky Baby, a biplane with a 7’2” wingspan. Once again he drew tremendous response from newspapers, magazines and the newsreel companies. And once again he got busy on the airshow circuit…but not for long. After one season, and 25 hours of flying time, the Sky Baby was given to the Smithsonian Institute. In 1963 it was sent to the Experimental Aircraft Association’s museum where it remains on long term loan. Requests were pouring in for plans for both of his midget aircraft, but Ray knew most people couldn’t handle the complexities of construction or the flying limitations of the two designs. Not being one to pass up an opportunity, however, he designed, built and test flew the Stits Playboy. It was a single seat, low wing, strut braced, aerobatic airframe that was designed to fly with 85 hp to 160hp engines.
 
Capitalizing on his fame for the miniature, Ray began selling plans. Realizing that a lot of builders were having problems securing aircraft grade materials, he started stocking and selling materials. He was into his second decade as an aircraft mechanic when the homebuilt movement began to take off and he slowly transitioned into an early version of Aircraft Spruce & Specialty.

In 1953, Ray got a letter from a man named Poberezny. The letter sat in an office at the airport for six weeks before someone finally delivered it to Ray. Paul Poberezny had heard of Ray’s work with homebuilts and had written to invite him to join a new organization he’d founded called the Experimental Aircraft Association.
 
Ray liked the concept and suggested to Paul that he be allowed to establish a Chapter of the EAA at Flabob. A couple months later, EAA had amended their bylaws to allow for Chapters and Ray was authorized to set up the first one. He got a dozen friends together and founded Chapter One. It’s still very active and leads all the other chapters in the number of Young Eagles they fly annually.
 
Around 1961, Ray went out to the back of his shop to dispose of some scrap aircraft covering that had been removed from an airplane. Disposal in those days was done with a match. But when he bent over to torch the nitric dope covered fabric, the stuff blew up in his face. The flammability of the covering got him thinking and he began a course of study that made him a chemist, leading over several years to the creation of a new covering material and a form of paint that was fire-resistant. Stits Polyfiber was born and it became such a hit in the homebuilt and restoration communities that Ray stopped selling all other forms of aircraft materials and by 1969, he removed all of his aircraft plans from the market. He spent the next couple of decades selling fabric and paint of his own creation. Ray retired and Jon Goldenbaum runs Polyfiber, which is still based on the famous “Stits Process”.
 
1983: Stits Aircraft Inc., P.O. Box 3084, Riverside, California 92509, U.S.A.
 
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Ray Stits went on to become recognized as a Master Mechanic and became one of a handful of people who has also earned the title of Master Pilot. He still flies an LSA and stays involved with events going on at Flabob Airport. His latest gesture was an offer to install a 12,000 gallon fuel tank on the airport’s fuel farm so that Flabob can become the first airport in the state of California to offer mogas to homebuilders and those who own a certificated aircraft with the proper STC. He’s also involved in working with students at the Flabob Airport Preparatory Academy who are rebuilding a Stits Skycoupe.
 
At the age of 90, he was still going strong as a pilot, mentor, and founding member of EAA Chapter One at historic Flabob Airport.
 
Ray Stits passed away in 2015.
 
The list of Ray’s designs includes:
1. Stits Junior, world’s smallest monoplane, 8’10” span, 1948
2. Stits Sky Baby, world’s smallest biplane, 7’2” span, 1952
3. Stits SA-3A, single place, 1952
4. Stits-Besler Executive, folding wing, 1954
5. Stits Playboy, two place, 1954
6. Stits Flut-R-Bug, SA-5A, 1955
7. Stits Flut-R-Bug, SA-5B, 1955
8. Stits Flut-R-Bug, SA-6A, two place, tandem, 1955
9. Stits Flut-R-Bug, SA-6B, two place, tandem, 1955
10. Stits Flut-R-Bug, SA-6C, two place, side by side, 1956
11. Stits Skycoupe, SA-7A, two place, 1956
12. Stits Skeeto, 265-pound ultralight, 1957
13. Stits Skycoupe, SA-7B, two place, 1957
14. Stits Skycoupe, SA-9A, two place, Type Certified, 1957-61
15. Stits Playmate, 2/3 place, folding wing, 1963-65
 
 
 
 
 


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