|Sad News - Prolific aircraft
designer homebuilt aircraft
pioneer Ray Stits dies.
Click here to read
Aviator, Pioneer, Landowner Ray Stits Dies
HILLS -- Pioneer air¬plane builder and aviation legend Ray Stits died at his Indian Hills home Monday. He was
As of Wednesday afternoon (6/10/15) no news of a service for Stits had been announced.
Stits is credited with building the world’s smallest airplane in 1952; is the inventor of polyfiber, an aircraft
coating; and is the founder of the Experimental Aircraft Association, Chapter One headquartered at His¬toric
Flabob Airport in Rubidoux.
Stits and his wife, Edith, raised two sons in Jurupa; David and Don.
David, a Vietnam veteran who served with the 82nd Airborne Di¬vision, was lost in a airplane crash.
Ray and Edith, and family, lived in a custom built home in Jurupa Hills in the 1970s and 1980s before moving
atop Indian Hills. Stits built his own helicopter landing pad at the home built on the highest hill in what is now
the City of Jurupa Val¬ley.
Stits invented a fiber coating for airplanes, which he later sold to Jon Goldenbaum who stills owns and
managed the company headquar¬tered at Flabob Airport.
Stits bought numerous plots of land in the community.
He served as the face of Flabob Airport for the past four decades.
David Gustafson, a Flabob air¬port historian and writer, recently penned a story about Stits in “Fly¬ing”
Here’s what he said”
“Few people outside of the Po¬berezny family had as much influ¬ence on the early home built aircraft
movement as Ray Stits.
“Today, at the age of 90, he’s still going strong as a pilot, mentor, and founding member of EAA Chapter One
at historic Flabob Airport. Ray has had a sterling career as an air¬craft designer, mechanic and creator of the
Stits Process, known today as Polyfiber.
“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.
“The incentive to build “Junior”, the monoplane, came from a dis¬cussion about the world’s small¬est airplane.
Someone mentioned Steve Wittman’s little racer with a 13’ span and Ray queried whether or not he could fly
something with a 10’10” wingspan. One of the par¬ticipants in that conversation said it wouldn’t be possible
and that was all it took. In the end the wingspan was 8’10.”
“In May of 1952, he introduced the Stits Sky Baby, a biplane with a 7’2” wingspan. After one season, and 25
hours of flying time, the Sky Baby was retired. Junior wound up on a scrap heap after an off airport landing.
“Requests were pouring in for plans for both of his midget aircraft, but Ray knew most people couldn’t handle
the flying limitations of the two de¬signs. 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.”
Read more at www.flyingmag.com/aircraft/perspectives-homebuilding/ray-stits-early-homebuilt-
At Aircraft Marketplace, everything aviation online, editor Norm Goyer also penned a piece on Ray Stits. Here’
s what he had to say:
“Ray Stits is responsible for a large number of homebuilt designs plus the Stits Covering System.
“It’s a known fact Richard VanGrunsven, the manufacturer of the out¬standing line of RV aircraft started with a
Ray Stits Playboy, and why not? It would be hard to find a better engineered and flying two place sport air-
craft. Van’s first RV-1 was a modified Playboy with a different construction method of the fuselage and the
wings. But the RVs didn’t stop there they went to an all metal construction. It didn’t take many years for the
RVs to become the most popular homebuilt of all time.
“The Playboy was the inspiration for the line of RV kit aircraft which dominate the homebuilt industry.
“Anybody who loves homebuilt or experimental aircraft surely must know who Ray Stits is. Currently 90 years
old, and still flying, this time not one of his own designs but a Cessna LSA Skycatcher. I spent many years
flying on the East Coast in Massachusetts and I knew who Ray Stits was. One of my friends was building a
Playboy from plans purchased from Ray.
“Years later, I ended up on the West Coast owning airport FBOs and writ¬ing about airplanes, and then, I met
Ray Stits, and I discovered Flabob Air¬port near Riverside. Only a year after Paul Poberezny started the EAA,
Ray Stits had convinced him to start EAA Chapters around the country. Flabob became the home of EAA
Chapter One, and Ray Stits was the man.
Ray Stits also designed the single place Flut R Bug, a very popular early homebuilt.
“Stits started flying as a teenager and always knew he wanted to design his own type of airplane. Incidentally,
Ray has been awarded both an FAA Master Mechanic award and a Master Pilot Award which means he has
had 50 years of unblemished mechanical work and of flying. There are very few, if any, dual winners. Again
Ray is our man.
“You see we live and work in Southern California and we lay claim to any pilots or aircraft built or designed
here in our beautiful state, especially when they are as well known as Ray Stits.
“Of course, by now, you have figured out that it was Ray who designed the Stits Aircraft Covering System
which completely turned the fabric cov¬ering techniques from World War One cotton and nitrate dope to
modern ex¬plosive proof polyurethane and polyester fabric and finishing products. The Stits system uses
matching chemistry for excellent adhesion and coverage.
“Some years ago, Ray Stits sold his company which is still operating, larger than ever, out of Flabob Airport.
Here is a list of the aircraft that Ray Stits designed.
• Junior, SA-1, world’s smallest monoplane, 8- 10- span, 1948.
• Stits Sky Baby, SA-2, world’s smallest biplane, 7- 2- span, 1951.
• Stits Playboy, SA-3A, 2-3 place, 1952.
• Stits-Besler Executive, folding wing, 1954.
• Stits Playboy, 2-place, 1955.
• Stits Flut-R-Bug, SA-5A, 1955.
• Stits Flut-R-Bug, SA-5B, 1955.
• Stits Flut-R-Bug, SA-6A, 2-place tandem, 1955.
• Stits Flut-R-Bug, SA-6B, 2-place tandem, 1956.
• Stits Flut-R-Bug, SA-6C, 2-place side by side, 1956.
• Stits Skycoupe, 2-place. 1956.
• Stits Skeeto, 265 pound ultralight, 1957.
• Stits Skycoupe, SA-7B, 2-place, 1957.
• Stits Skycoupe, SA-9A, 2-place, type certified, 1957-61.
“The Stits Skybaby was one of several “World’s Smallest Airplanes” that Ray Stits designed. They received
worldwide attention when introduced.”
Norm Goyer thanks friend and Flabob historian David Gustafson for com¬piling the list of Stits aircraft. This
list appeared in Sport Aviation, March 1988.