Earl Stahl

November 2012 - Earl Passed Away In October. This page remembers a good friend and mentor to the Maxecuters and modelers around the world.

Earl's Obituary

YORKTOWN - Earl Fred Stahl, Yorktown, Va., died Oct. 16, 2012, at age 94. He was born and raised in Johnstown, Pa.
He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Lil; and their daughters, Jeanne E. Stahl and her husband Daniel Elliott, Terri Cuthriell and her husband Michael and Gail Hoilman and Timothy; grandchildren, Seth Hoilman, Shelby and Bryce Cuthriell, and Verity Elliott. He is also survived by his sister, Ruth M. Stahl, of Johnstown, Pa.
He served in World War II as a U.S. Army Air Corps Celestial Navigation Instructor.
Earl worked at NACA/NASA for 42 years, retiring in 1986 as chief, Operations Support Division. In that role he was awarded the NASA Exceptional Service Medal for "leadership in the management of technical support to the Langley research effort assuring effective utilization of the center's diversified research facilities."
Since his youth Earl Stahl was a freelance author and graphics illustrator of model airplanes, sport aviation, and aviation history for various magazines, journals, and World Book Encyclopedia. He remains internationally known for creating and illustrating construction projects for flying model airplanes. Many of his publications continue to be reproduced for competitions in the USA and Europe. In recognition of the "enduring and distinguished achievement in the art of free flight model aviation," he was inducted into the halls of fame of five national hobby organizations.
The family requests that no flowers be sent.
Arrangements by Amory Funeral Home, Grafton. View and post condolences on our online guestbook at dailypress.com/guestbooks.

Some thoughts and photos from Lindsey Smith

"The first was taken at Geneseo in ‘94, he is holding my version of his Apache which I built to bring over to fly in rubber scale. He was kind enough to say that ‘It showed great promise’ and later sent me the other shot of him launching the original prototype in 1942 which was covered in red tissue. . He was such a nice chap, I always sent him a photo of the entrants in our annual Stahl contest at Wallop, and he always sent a nice reoly untill ‘09 after which I expect he was too frail. Anyway ,Regards to all over there. Lindsey"

Earl with Lindsey's Apache at Geneseo.

A youthful Earl enjoying scale free flight with his Apache.

Lindsey and fellow British modelers at an annual "Earl Stahl' low/high wing contest.

Lindsey's MIG from Earl's plan.

Louis N. Buffardi, Editor

By Jim Alaback
When it cones to flying scale models, Earl Stahl's designs are not only well
remembered, they are still being built in large numbers more than 50 years later.
They are, in fact, a staple of vintage and modern flying scale contest events
all over the world.
Earl, not quite nine years old, was already hooked on model building when
Lindbergh made his non-stop, solo flight from New York to Paris in May, 1927.
It was to be a lifetime hobby for him, as it has been for so many of us. Today
he may be seen at Society of Antique Modelers and Flying Aces Club contests, and
we are proud to say that he is a Founding Member of Kits and Plans Antiquitous.
Growing up in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, Earl became an avid contest flyer
in the 1930s. As a teenager. Earl participated in the regional events sponsored
by the newspapers, such as Junior Birdmen (Hearst) and Junior Aviator (Scripps
Howard) as well as national contests and the Wakefield.
Getting to out-of-town contests was a challenge. Earl's family did not
have an automobile so he rode Greyhound from Johnstown to places like Detroit,
Chicago, Akron, and Cleveland. Safely transporting eight or ten models was a
problem. Storage for big items of baggage on those old busses was under canvas
on the roof. To protect his models, in their homemade cases, he would insist on
cliinbing the chromed ladder at the back to assure their proper placement and
retrieval. No transportation casualties ever occuredl
In Johnstown at this time there were a dozen or so extremely active
modelers. This little group included two others who would rise to national
prominence as contestants and designers- Ted Just and Alfred Cleave. Earl and
his house were the center of their activities which, except in the bitter winters,
included model flying almost every day in a nearby park or at a small, grassy
Earl's first published plan was for his "Weight Rule Contest Model", in
the June, 1938, issue of Model Airplane News. This was followed, in August, 1939,
by his "Hi-Climber" in Flying Aces.
The DeHavilland Leopard Moth was the first scale model that Earl built.
It was from a George D. Wanner Co. kit that he won as a contest prize. It was
a good flyer and its nice appearance stimulated a new interest for him- flying
scale models!
He obtained a 3-view outline drawing of the Rearwin Speedster. He designed
a model of the Speedster, using the experience he obtained in designing his earlier
contest models. It turned out to be a superb flyer. He sent a picture of his
model to C. H. Grant, then the editor of Model Airplane News. Grant invited Earl
to prepare the plan and article which appeared in the January, 1940 issue. I
well remember receiving that issue and the immediate appeal of the design. Like
all of Earl's scale models it had a great beauty of line. In fact, I have often
thought that his model designs, like Varga's paintings of girls, were even sleeker
than the originals!
Following the success of the Rearwin, Earl produced a long series of his
splendid scale designs for publication in all three of the leading model
publications of the day- Flying Aces, Model Airplane News, and Air Trails.
Despite his tremendous success with flying scale rubber powered model
designs, Earl continued to design contest models. His "Hurricane" and (Wakefield)
"Gypsy" designs were published in Flying Aces in July, 1940, and September, 1942,
respectively. In February, 1944, his "Class D Contest Model" was published in
M.A.N. This model had actually been designed and built in 1938, but publication
in the magazine was delayed. This design has recently been recognized as "legal"
for competition in Society of Antique Modelers'" competition even though the design's
publication had been delayed past SAM's December, 1942, cut-off date.
Earl also moved on to other types of model designs for publication.
These included his free-flight gas Fokker D-8 {M.A.N., June and July, 1941), a
couple of scale towline gliders, and three solid scale models for Air Trails in
After the war, Earl designed two controline scale models, a Vought F4U
Corsair and a Cessna 140. The latter was published in Mechanix Illustrated instead
of one of the model magazines, and probably had a larger circulation than any
of his other plans. He had another design, a Piel Sneraude free flight for .020
engine, published in 1960, and a rubber-powered General Skyfarer (his second)
published in Model Builder, June 1975.
Recently Earl commented on the accuracy of his scale designs with these
words: "...a few have questioned the authenticity of those old designs. The
information explosion upon us has made available much more data on most any aircraft
than was obtainable, at least to me, in those earlier days. The point to be made
is that a sincere effort was made to be as accurate as material at hand permitted."
For scale documentation. Earl relied heavily on Aero Digest magazine.
Their "annual" issue, each March, cost the then-pricely sum of 50<P but it contained
tiny 3-views of all the current airplanes, along with specifications and a picture
of each. Fortunately, a friend of his had access to a photostat machine and could
enlarge the 3-views to ease Earl's drafting burden. Earl says those enlargements
had big, fuzzy lines that looked like they had been drawn with the wet end of a
cigar butt I Later, Earl became a private pilot and was actually flying some of
these planes at the time he modeled them. The Taylorcraft Tandem ("O-57") was
one example and the Cessna 140 was another.
When he is asked which of his models was his own favorite, Earl says there
was no single one, but he does cite the Waco E and the Hawker Hurricane for beauty
and the Interstate Cadet and General Skyf arer for their flying ability* For a
combination of appearance and performance he remembers the North American Apache,
a semi-scale model published in Air Trails, March, 1942.
In retrospect, Earl says that he could have done more work on optimizing
propellers. Once he settled on a length, width, and pitch, that was it. On the
subject of props he also says, "Incidentally, I do not admire the use of the
manufactured, plastic propellers which is common today. They are probably better
than our handcarved ones of days gone by but I do believe skillful fashioning of
a prop presents the greatest challenge in the construction of a rubber powered
model, so I like to see that effort on the part of the builder."
Earl's first employment was with All American Aviation (which later
became Allegheny and is now U.S.Air). He then went on to a productive 40-year
career at NACA/NASA, from which he is now retired.
Earl wrote recently, "Doing those articles was genuine fun. Unfortunately,
I had the feeling that the construction articles were being received with
indifference by the readers. Oh, I got letters from Europe, Africa, South America,
and Australia but the editors, aside from never rejecting an article, made few
comments or recommendations... For several decades after I stopped submitting
the articles I supposed the various models had been forgotten. Then,,in recent
years, letters, phone calls, and visitors... have made me aware that many folks
had built and enjoyed the models. It is a source of pleasure to be aware that
some of the designs are still being built and flown."

Click here for Jim Alaback's Plan List http://www.theplanpage.com/esp/planlist.htm

Earl's first published design "Weight Rule Contest Model" held by Adam Parshall.

Believe this is a model from Earl's last published plan (Piper Pawnee) by John Lewars seen here with Earl at Genseo.

With the Brainbusters.

With Wally Farrell and Dave Rees.

Earl launching at a Virginia contest.

Some photos from he Braincbusters and others of Earl enjoying the local contests,

He was a faithful devotee of the Brainbuster's "Cloud Tramp" contests

seen here here with the Club and Abram Van Dover.