Edwin E. “Ed” Marquart died peacefully of natural causes early in the morning of July 4. He worked at historic Flabob Airport from 1955 until two weeks before his death, where he was among the most famous designers and builders of homebuilt aircraft. He was 85.
During World War II, Marquart joined the Navy, where he was a “plank owner” of U.S.S. Shangri-La, an Essex-class carrier built to replace Hornet after she was lost in action. He served aboard Shangri-La as an aviation machinist’s mate through action off Japan until war’s end. After the war, he moved to the Philadelphia area where he worked at various aircraft manufacturers, including Piasecki and Lanier, builder of the innovative Paraplane.
Marquart was an early member — number 198 — of the Experimental Aircraft Association and, when he moved to Southern California in 1955, one of his first stops was at Flabob Airport, home of EAA Chapter One. He was hired by Ray Stits, then the leading supplier of airplane kits for homebuilders, and worked with Stits for two years building kits. Stits recalled that he and Marquart built the first SA-5 Flut-R-Bug in 30 days. When Stits stopped producing kits, Marquart went into business for himself, opening his shop at Flabob on Aug. 1, 1958.
His first airplane was the MA-3 Maverick, a single-place built as a proof of concept, which he bought back in 2006 and currently is in his Flabob hangar. He then designed the single-place MA-4 Lancer and the two-place MA-5 Charger, his most successful design, with more than 100 of them completed so far. A handsome, swept-wing biplane, with graceful lines and excellent performance, the Charger continues to be built. One Charger, N31DD, built by Dave Davidson of Texas, was the first biplane to solo both ways across the Atlantic. Marquart also built custom parts for homebuilders.
In the 1970s he teamed up with Bill Turner, for whom he built the replica Brown racer “Miss Los Angeles,” followed by a long line of Golden Age air race replicas, including a Gee Bee model Z, the Miles and Atwood Special, and major parts of the de Havilland Comet and Laird-Turner Meteor projects built at Flabob. He rebuilt the front section of Benny Howard’s racer “Pete” and helped with the restoration of Paul Poberezny’s “L’il Audrey,” now in the EAA Museum at Oshkosh. Until shortly before his death, he worked daily on his restoration of a Buhl CA-3C Sport Airsedan, one of only two known to exist, and which was nearing completion.
Friends describe Marquart as “never too busy to lend a hand or give sound advice to homebuilders and restorers.” On almost any day he could be found at lunch at the long pilots’ table of the Flabob Airport Café, where “his inexhaustible store of flying stories and aircraft lore were at the service of all who were interested,” friends say.