Mike David Gretz
A man known for bringing Sig Manufacturing into the modern age of laser-cut kits and ARFs has passed away.
Mike Gretz, lead designer for Sig Manufacturing, was also a modeler, world champion, and AMA Model Aviation Hall of Fame member. He had worked for Sig Manufacturing since January of 1972.
Mike purchased his first gas-powered model in 1968, and entered his first Control Line (CL) contest at age 18. Six years after taking up the hobby, he competed in his first World Championship and finished fourth. Mike continued to compete and went on to become a seven-time Team USA member, as well as a FAI World Championship team manager. He also competed in the RC Scale Nats.
Perhaps best known for his work at Sig Manufacturing, Mike was responsible for product design, systems engineering, quality control, sales, and product support. He designed dozens of models including the company’s first ARF, and helped Sig Manufacturing transition into the computer age to become the first major manufacturer to produce laser-cut model aircraft kits. He often attended fly-ins and other aeromodeling gatherings.
His articles and photographs about model aircraft appeared in Model Aviation, Model Airplane News, Scale R/C Modeler, Hobby Merchandiser, and R/C Report. He was the “CL Scale” columnist for Model Aviation from January 1978 to January 1981, and provided CL Scale Nats coverage for the magazine.
In addition to designing and writing, Mike served as the longtime president of the Air Power Museum, located in Ottumwa, Iowa, and was the chairman of AMA’s RC Scale Contest Board. In cooperation with the EAA, he launched the KidVenture program at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, in 1997.
His honors include receiving the AMA’s FAI Distinguished Performance Award; a distinguished performance award at the FAI Scale World Championships in 1976, 1984, 1986, and 1988; the High Point Award; and several National Association of Scale Aeromodelers Flight Achievement Awards. Mike was inducted into the AMA Model Aviation Hall of Fame in 2007, received an AMA Fellowship Award in 2010, and was honored with the Distinguished Service Award in January 2016, the day before his death.
Mike is survived by his wife, Doris, of Montezuma, Iowa; a son, Dave; four sisters, two brothers, and several grandchildren. A crowdfunding campaign has been established to help with medical expenses. Donations can be made at www.youcaring.com/mike-and-doris-gretz-505330.