Stits SA-2A Sky Baby

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This object is on display in the Boeing Aviation Hangar at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA.

Stits SA-2A Sky Baby

Collection Item Summary:

On a dare from another pilot, Ray Stits designed and built the Sky Baby at his home in Riverside, California, to prove that he could build the world's smallest man-carrying airplane. To test fly the tiny aircraft, Stits hired Robert H. Starr who took off on the first flight in April 1952. During the spring and summer, Starr flew the SA-2A at air shows around the nation before Stits retired the airplane in November. Starr reported that the Sky Baby could top 299 kph (185 mph) at full speed and touched down for landing at about 129 kph (80 mph).

To keep the overall dimensions of the SA-2A as small as possible, Stits chose a biplane layout with negative-stagger, full-cantilever wings, and a conventional, cruciform empennage. No one disputed Stits's claim until the 1980s when Starr, the man who flew the SA-2A, announced that he had built an aircraft that was smaller than the Sky Baby. Ray's son, Donald, responded by designing the world's smallest monoplane. September 2002, the "Guiness Book of Records" acknowledged the "Bumble Bee II," built by Starr, as the world's smallest biplane, and the "Baby Bird," designed by Donald Stits, as the smallest monoplane.

Collection Item Long Description:

On a dare from another pilot, Ray Stits designed and built the Sky Baby at his home in Riverside, California, to prove that he could build the world's smallest man-carrying airplane. To test fly the tiny aircraft, Stits hired Robert H. Starr who took off on the first flight in April 1952. During the spring and summer, Starr flew the SA-2A at air shows around the nation before Stits retired the airplane in November. Starr reported that the Sky Baby could top 299 km/h (185 mph) at full speed and touched down for landing at about 129 km/h (80 mph).

To keep the overall dimensions of the SA-2A as small as possible, Stits chose a biplane layout with negative-stagger, full-cantilever wings, and a conventional, cruciform empennage. He crafted the fuselage by welding together lengths of steel tubing, and he built the wings from spruce wood, then covered the entire airframe with fabric. Stits built only one SA-2A.

No one disputed Stits's claim until the 1980s when Starr, the man who flew the SA-2A, announced that he had built an aircraft that was smaller than the Sky Baby. Ray's son, Donald, responded by designing the world's smallest monoplane. September 2002, the "Guiness Book of Records" acknowledged the "Bumble Bee II," built by Starr, as the world's smallest biplane, and the "Baby Bird," designed by Donald Stits, as the smallest monoplane. Ray Stits donated the Sky Baby to the National Air and Space Museum in 1972. NASM staff moved the Sky Baby in 2014 to the Udvar-Hazy Center and then placed it on display in the aviation hanger.

Data Source

National Air and Space Museum

Rights

Do not reproduce without permission from the Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum

Manufacturer

Credit Line

Gift of Ray Stits.

Materials

Steel alloy- “Chromoly”, ferrous alloy, clear plastic, wood, fabric, rubber, paint

Dimensions

Other: 60 x 118 x 86 in., 205kg (152.4 x 299.7 x 218.5cm, 452lb.)

Country of Origin

United States of America

Physical Description

  • Wingspan: 2.2 m (7 ft 2 in)
  • Length: 3.0 m (9 ft 10in)
  • Height: 1.5 m (5 ft)
  • Weights: Empty, 205.5 kg (452 lb)
  • Gross, 302.7 kg (666 lb)
  • Engine: Continental four-cylinder, four-cycle, 85 horsepower

Type

CRAFT-Aircraft

Inventory Number

A19730248000