We have received sad news that our alumnus Richard Eppler passed away on Thursday, November 25th 2021.
Richard was an acknowledged expert in both aerodynamics and calculation of structural and mechanical problems and as such had a very influential position in the development of sailplanes.
Besides the variety of profiles that he developed for model and manned aircraft, he rendered great merits due to his role in the introduction of composite materials. These light and highly rigid materials made a new generation of wing profiles possible, which led to a significant leap of sailplane performance in the 1960s.
As a member of the Akaflieg Stuttgart, Richard was responsible for the joint development of the world’s first sailplane made mostly of fiber composite materials, together with Hermann Nägele and Rudi Lindner, the fs24 “Phönix”. The process was then further optimized in the “Phoebus”-aircraft family. Nowadays, all available sailplanes on the market are built using these technologies. He himself closely accompanied this development in the construction of sailplanes, many designs possessed one of his “Eppler-profiles”, and the profile-calculation-tool that he developed was used around the world in researching new laminar-flow-profiles. In his old age he was able to inspire many students in Stuttgart for the field of aerodynamics as a professor in his profile-design-workshop at the university.
Beyond that he was a major source of ideas for the fs26 “Moseppl” and fs28 “Avispa”, both of which were milestones in the history of the Akaflieg Stuttgart and of which the fs28 still partakes in the flying operations up to this day.
His enthusiasm for flying and all accompanying fields was always contagious and many members of the Akaflieg Stuttgart will happily remember his visits in the workshop, the airfield, and his lecture at the 90-year-celebrations.
We will hold his memories in honour and keep his family in our thoughts.