Short biography of Ernő Rubik Sr.

Ernő Rubik (1910-1997) was a memeber of a group of aircraft designers who were instrumental in recreating the Hungarian aircraft industry after World War I.

He was born at Pöstyény (today Pieštany in Slovakia). His father was reported to be missing in action in 1915 at the Eastern front. The broken family had been moved to Hungary after the war where - as a war orphan and diligent pupil - he won a scholarship to continue his studies. He graduated in a grammar-school. Based on his excellent results he got support from the Ministry of Public Welfare and was enrolled in the Technical University of Budapest at 1929 as a student for mechanical engineering.

At that time the Technical University’s Sportflying Society (MSrE) - established in 1921 - had a small workshop, where a couple of skilled workers were employed. Rubik spent his free time working in this workshop and later became a member of the team designing Árpád Lampich’s L-9 aircraft.

For his excellent work he was sent by MSrE to one of its flying camps where he earned his pilot licence. He usuallay spent his weekends at Farkashegy gliding field where he earned his gliding pilot licence and later his gliding instructor lincence as well.

In 1933 he had participated in the design work of Lajos Rotter’s Karakán high-performance glider which was successful at the Boy Scouts’ World Jamboree held at Gödöllő, a small town to the east of Budapest.

With a couple of fellow members of the MSrE he took the initiative to create a gliding section whithin MSrE.

At this time several Hungarian gliding clubs started to build gliders and Rubik got the assignment from MAeSz to supervise their constructions. At the same time he became the deputy workshop leader at MSrE’s workshop and was working on non-salary terms as an assistant professor at one of the departments of the University teaching the subject „Aircraft”.

In 1934 he and Endre Jancsó designed a training glider designated M-20 and nicknamed EMESE-B. Later Rubik listed this glider among his other designs as R-01. To spare mass he broke with the usual fuselage structural solution of such types and designed a boat-hull like structure instead of a solid keel. And he used streamlined V struts instead of wires to brace the wings.

During the construction of EMESE-B the drawings of his new aircraft design, a powered low wing monoplane designated as M-19 and listed among his designs as R-02, were completed. As no suitable airfoil tables were available at those times, he visited Mátyásföld airfield, Budapest’s airport, and with the assistance of young apprentices he took the measures of the airfoil of a Heinkel He-70 aircraft delivering airmail to Budapest. Based on this measurement was M-19’s airfoil designed. The MSrE sent Rubik with a model of the M-19 to Warsaw to test the aerodynamics of the aircraft in the wind tunnel of Warsaw University. The M-19 was exhibited at the Intarnational Fair of Budapest in 1937. Unfortunately the aircraft was destroyed during the test flights when she was coming in to land with flaps extended and the pilot was forced to make a turn because of an airliner taking off. The arcraft lost speed and crashed killing the pilot. The aircraft was rebuilt as M-19A and the MSrE used it for touring flights.

In 1937 the development of gliding had got momentum all over the country, however a background industry was non existent. Ernő Rubik recognized this situation and with Lajos Mitter, a carpenter, who run the repair shop of the Aeroclub of Esztergom, they founded an independent workshop to repair and build gliders. First he designed a high perfprmance glider - R-03 Szittya - which was suitable to be fitted with an auxiliary engine as well, and a basic training glider with simple structure, the Vöcsök. To build these gliders was the first task of the new workshop.

The Szittya was produced in another two variants: the R-04 Szittya-II (1938) and the R-10 Szittya-III (1940).

The Vöcsök prototype, designated R-05, was promptly purchased by the Ikarus Flying School of Gödöllő. Other orders started to coming in for the Vöcsök, one of them from the Aeroclub of Egypt. These orders made it possible to convert the workshop to a new firm, . The Vöcsök was redesigned and got the designation R-07b.

During the test flights of the Vöcsök prototype came up the idea to create a basic trainer with open seat to replace the Zöglings. In 1938 the new trainer, the R-07a Tücsök prototype was completed.

In 1938 after the Miklós Horthy National Aviation Fund (Horthy Miklós Nemzeti Repülő Alap, HMNRA) the demand for more gliders increased. New Rubik’s designs appeared: R-08 Pilis advanced training and R-11 Cimbora two-seater basic trainig gliders. One of the gliders built in the greatest number in Hungary was the R-08 Pilis and its later variants. The R-08 was a great step forward compared to the used advanced trainers in Hungary such as the Grünau Baby and the Wolf.

To meet the demand for a two-seater basic trainer Rubik designed the R-11 Cimbora in 1940. The type was built in series. The success of Aero Ever Ltd. and the nearly thousand gliders built up to 1944 gave opportunity to Rubik to plan for the future. His well staffed design bureau was full of work. His new designs featured forms and performances pointing into the future. Such were the R-12 Kevély high performance, the R-15 Koma two-seater basic training, the R-16 Lepke one-seater basic training, the R-17 Móka aerobatic and the R-22 Futár high performance gliders. As regards powered aircraft Rubik designed and Aero Ever Ltd. built the R-14 Pinty single seater light training aircraft with a 40 HP engine, and the design work of the R-18 Kánya light laison aircraft was in progress. In 1944 a military transport glider - the R-21 - had been on the drawing boards as well, however the construction of which was never completed.

In the meantime Rubik spent his every free minutes at the glider field of Esztergom serving as the club’s gliding instructor.

After the war, at December 1945, he started to reorganize and restart the work of Aero Ever Ltd. The firm was engaged in car repairs and production of wooden canoes. In 1949 the firm was nationalized. Its name became Sportáru Termelő Vállalat (Factory of Sport Appliances). Rubik was retained at the factory as technical manager.

After the foundation of National Hungarian Flying Association (OMRE) training new pilots got a new momentum and the demand to replace the worn out aircraft built before the war or damaged during the fights and rebuilt after the war increased. This new organization invited designs in the frame of a design competition for training gliders. Rubik’s designs the R-15 Koma two-seater and the R-16 Lepke single-seater trainig gliders won the competition. His R-18 Kánya laison aircraft had won another design competition invited by the military. Two prototypes were built of this type with 105 and 160 Walter engines respectively. Due to its excellent low-speed flying capabilities this aircraft became an outstanding glider towing aeroplane and a series of 10 aircraft of the 105 HP variant were built for this purpose. At the ’50s these towing aircraft were refitted with 5 cylinder M-11 radial engines of 100 HP.

His winning designs had been conceived during the war years and he was able to bid with well matured designs. His two training gliders - the R-15 Koma and the R-16 Lepke - introduced new possibilities in direct training methods. The side-by-side arrangment of Koma shortened the training period due to the direct connection between instructor and pupil. When the pupil attained complete competence of controlling the glider, he/she changed over to R-16 Lepke to accomplish his/her C bagde.

For years training gliders produced at Esztergom were used again for training the youth throughout the country. In this period of his life he was rewarded more then once with an award called „For Peoples’ Aviation” for his work of rebuilding his factory and for designing a whole series of new aircraft.

At 1950 he was invited by the Technical University to give lectures on „Production of gliders” and „Production of wooden aircraft” subjects.

When in 1952 due to the forced development of Hungarian military aviation he was transferred to the National Engine Repair Works located at Székesfehérvár. This firm was engaged in putting into operation and repair aircraft and related assemblies supplied by the USSR in great quantities. At first he was the deputy manager of the airframe section and later he became the head of the department reponsible of technologies applied by the firm.

At 1954 he had moved back to sport aviation and from 1956 he became the head of the design office of the Central Experimental Plant at Alag (Alagi Központi Kisérleti Üzem-AKKÜ). In this capacity he started to work on developing all-metal gliders with simple structures and which would be suitable to mass production. In this work he relied on his experiences gained during his time repairing all-metal military aircraft at Székesfehérvár. The result of his work was a family of all-metal gliders: R-23 Gébics single-seater training, R-25 Mokány single-seater high-performance, R-26 Góbé two-seater training gliders and the single-seater version of the latter, the R-27 Kópé. Using aluminium instead of wood as basic building material opened up new and more economic possibilities for mass production of gliders.

At 1963 the highest Hungarian prize for science, the Kossuth Prize, was awarded to Ernő Rubik for his works. In the ’60s he was the acting manager of the technical department of the Ministry of Transportation and later he worked as a consultant for the MALÉV, the Hungarian Airlines, on technical matters. In the meantime he worked on the development of light powered aircraft, however his endeavour was blocked by the higher authorities of those times.

In addition to his creative works he was an active member of the Hungarian Aero Association and its successor after the war the Hungarian Aeronautical Association, the Scientific Society of Mechanical Engineering, the Hungarian Academy of Engineering, the Hungarian Aviation Historical Society, the Society of Hungarian Veteran Flyers, the presidency of the Aviation Section of the Museum of Transportation, the boards of the Foundations of the Museum of Transportation as well as the Aircraft Museum of Szolnok.

The FAI awarded him with the „Paul Thissandier Diploma” at 1957. He was honoured at the same year in Hungary with „Donát Bánki Medal”. At 1980 he was awarded with the „Gold Medal for Sport Aviation” and at 1990 at his 80th birthday he was awarded with the „Order of the Flag of the Hungarian Republic” for his oeuvre.

He had retired in 1971 however his continued to design aircraft. Partly working at his home he built a new two-seater training glider named „Dupla” and an ultralight aircraft, the R-32, however these types has never reached serial production.

Ernő Rubik Sr. had died at February 13, 1997.

During his lifetime he designed 28 gliders and 5 powered aircraft.