STITS PLAYMATE SA-11A – N9681Z
Ray Stits began designing the Playmate in August of 1962 in response to a large interest in a true folding wing sport plane. Demand was so high for a folding wing airplane that EAA sponsored a design contest from 1959-1962 with that particular feature as one of the primary requirements. Folding wing airplanes did exist at the time, but most in most cases, the process of folding or removing the wings was so cumbersome that it wasn’t worth the effort unless the airplane was going to be in storage for a long time.
The Playmate was a true folding wing aircraft. The wings swung back, upward, and over the horizontal stabilizer, rotating to rest snugly on a wing support tube with a rubber pad atop the leading edge of the stabilizer. Two brackets were inserted from the wing tips to the vertical fin. The wings could be folded up in less than 30 seconds, and could be unfolded and locked for flight in just over 15 seconds.
Some pilots were concerned about the wings folding up while the airplane was in flight, though the Playmate’s wings were designed so a pilot could see the open doors in each side of the cowling that housed the locking lever. Unlikely as it was, even if a pilot forgot to lock the wings in place and didn’t notice the open doors, the wings would lift and fold alongside the aircraft on take-off long before the airplane ever left the runway.
The Playmate was constructed of a chromoly tube truss with aluminum sheet and poly-fiber covering fuselage and tail. The wings were made of spruce spars and ribs with poly-fiber covering. The prototype was powered by a 150 hp Lycoming O-320 engine.
In 1964, Ray switched the N number from another of his prototype airplanes, the Sky Baby, and the prototype Playmate was registered as N5K. Five years later the number was switched back to the Sky Baby for historical purposes. In 1969, the Playmate received the new registration N9681Z.
After all the tests and experiments were finished, Ray donated his prototype Playmate to the EAA AirVenture Museum in 1969.
Stits SA-11A Playmate Stits SA-11A Playmate