Skeeto SA-8 (oz11726)


Skeeto SA-8 (oz11726) by Paul Denson 1984 - plan thumbnail

About this Plan

Stits Skeeto SA-8. Stand-off scale model for radio control.

Quote: "Here is another design from the famous homebuilt aircraft designer, Ray Stits. Paul Denson has created this Stand-Off Scale reproduction of the full size bird. Skeeto SA-8.

Skeeto was the product of an experiment in the ultra-light concept conducted by Ray Stits way back in the middle '50s. It was developed as a lightweight, economical, homebuilt project which would cost no more than $500. This cost would include everything, even fabric, dope, engine, wheels and prop. The majority of the 175 lb plane was made of wood with chromoly tubing at strategic places for safety. At this price, it was obvious that a modified, off the shelf, engine would be required.

Industrial wheels, with no brakes, were used and it was necessary at times, when taxiing downwind, for the pilot to 'bail out' and stop the plane before it hit a fence or ran into a ditch. Since he weighed more than the plane, it was always stopped in time.

As designed, Skeeto had a 24 ft wingspan which was stretched to 30 ft, when the original engine was found insufficient in the power department and a heavier engine was installed. The extra wing length helped keep the proposed loading at 3.1 lb/sq ft. The length was 18 ft, 150 sq ft wing area, 45 mph cruising, 20 mph landing, and 250 ft/min, rate of climb. No question about it, Skeeto did fly but, in every case, it was the engine that quit first, apparently one of those projects that was born 30 years too soon. Sorry to say, after making a complete evaluation, the project was shelved in 1958 due to lack of a suitable lightweight engine and it was decided to donate Skeeto to the Air Museum in Claremont, California.

Since Sport flying is our forte, we are always looking for something that will fill this category. When we found Skeeto in a 1965 copy of Homebuilt Aircraft, we were looking for a plane that could fly low and slow, something small enough to fit into the car without take-down, low fuel consumption and need a minimum of care. Skeeto fit the bill with parasol wing for stability, small uncowled engine, big rudder and stab for quick maneuvers and, as a whole, particularly uncomplicated.

Already, we had a wing in mind and to the best of our research, the airfoil was designed by Ken Willard and made its first appearance years ago in RCM on his Showmaster (oz6222). The 'banana winged plane' as it has, of late, been fondly called with its .049 engine, was designed specifically for the schoolyard or other small field flying. After building and flying the Showmaster, we plotted the positions of the upper and lower cambers then enlarged the wing to its present chord and span. The wing has been used previously on a number of planes and we are veryfamiliar with its flying characteristics, this is the main reason for its choice. We have even experimented with strip flaperons which did absolutely nothing for this fine wing. It flies so well on three channels that even though Skeeto has ailerons, we decided to keep it simple.

With the wing already picked out, it was but a quick bunch of scratches an butcher paper that we had enough lines to build a plane. Do not ever ask a scratch-builder to borrow his plans, they do not exist or at least so no one else could build a plane from them. If it flies, then he takes all the time necessary to draw a buildable set of plans. Before Skeeto was even half completed, it was discovered that it had the same inherent problem the full size had - nose heaviness. Heavier and heavier engines necessitated adding a sandbag ballast to the tail area for balance. Once, this bag was removed for patching and reinstallation was forgotten on a test flight. Needless to say, Ray had the stick in his lap the whole flight. If you look closely in one of the photographs; taken before covering, you can see a big lead weight in the tail for balance. It is a good thing our model is 'stand way off' scale because we chopped a full half inch off the nose and moved the engine back as far as we could on the mount. This took out a lot of the nose heaviness but, as in the full scale, it is necessary to carry some weight in the tail. This, however, in no way affects the great way she flies.

We feel the beginner should start with a low powered engine .15-.20, a parasol wing with lots of dihedral and one that is not too complicated to build. The Skeeto fills that bill. Not only is it easy to build but it is also a snap to fly. You experts don't let the above turn you off, it is also fun to fly, you can relax from your zoomers and play around the field at one fourth speed a couple of feet off the ground, making sudden turns without worrying about snapping into the ground. In a slight breeze, it will fly backwards with full up elevator. (PS you do not need a lumber yard to build it.)

We generally kit a scratch-built before starting any construction. You need a fair amount of 3/16 square balsa longeron stock, a few sheets of 3/32 balsa for wing ribs, and various other sticks and sheets for odds and ends. Pick up a couple of pieces of 3/4 in TE stock in addition to the required 1-1/4 TE stock; this is used as shim stock when building the wing.

Pin the leading edge to the plans, cut rib notches in the trailing edge then pin it to the plans over the shim. Then merrily drop the ribs into each station. Sock them in securely with a cyanoacrylate such as Super Jet, then mist a bit of X-Cel over all to thoroughly set up the glue. Place a strip of waxpaper between the TE and the shim..."

Update 6/5/2024: Replaced this plan with a clearer copy, thanks to theshadow.

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Skeeto SA-8 (oz11726) by Paul Denson 1984 - model pic


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Skeeto SA-8 (oz11726) by Paul Denson 1984 - pic 003.jpg
Skeeto SA-8 (oz11726) by Paul Denson 1984 - pic 004.jpg
Skeeto SA-8 (oz11726) by Paul Denson 1984 - pic 005.jpg

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User comments

Looking at photos of 1:1 scale Skeetos the nose does look short but not by that much, the most visible difference being the wing which has no dihedral in the original, possibly the model designer was short a couple of servos for the ailerons. Or one can infer by reading the article that Mr Denson decided he just wanted it that way and nit-pickers can go take a hike :-)
Being a Ray Stits design it should be a peace of mind flyer, and should be covered with a scale version of Stits Poly-Fiber :-)
Miguel - 19/11/2019
There was only one Skeeto built (N6048C). Builder plans were never offered. It was an engine test bed used to evaluate a number of different powerplants, thus had several nose configurations. It clearly had a very small amount of wing dihedral. Ray Stits wrote a nicely illustrated, 2 part article that appeared in the March and April 1958 issues of the EAA Magazine Sport Aviation.
Dave D - 20/11/2019
A good nit-picker has to be able to recognise when he's been out-nit-picked :-)
Miguel Morao - 20/11/2019
The Skeeto was first flown with an engine of about 8HP, the final engine test was with a Evinrude 25HP, I don't think Evinrude made an air-cooled outboard at that time so there saw probably the weight of a cooling system with that motor. the nose would be shorter to keep W/B in check.
Douglas Babb - 21/11/2019
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