The Pitts Special is the brainchild of Curtis Pitts and a favorite for both competition and sport pilots alike. The Pitts is fully aerobatic with structural limits of +6 and -3 G's and has been the aircraft of choice for numerous national and international top ranked aerobatic pilots.
In the mid-1940s, Curtis Pitts wanted to build and fly an aircraft that would make the acrobatic planes of the day look like lumbering giants. Using a 55 hp Lycoming engine salvaged from a Taylorcraft destroyed in a tornado, Pitts built an extremely small biplane that was lightweight, strong and relatively inexpensive to produce. From very humble, home-built beginnings, the Pitts Special became instantly popular with professional aerobatic and other adventuresome pilots across the country. Over the next five decades, the appearance of the Pitts has changed little, although the aircraft has been improved in many ways. Most notably, Pitts added symmetrical wings to allow the plane to fly inverted as well as right side up, ailerons to the upper wing and a lengthened fuselage to accommodate larger engines. A two-seat version of the Pitts, the S2-A, was also produced for aerobatic training as well as competition flying.
While European countries developed new monoplane acrobatic aircraft in the late 1960s, the United States found its first success on the world aerobatic stage with the tiny Pitts S1-S biplane. The nimble S1-S, with its round airfoil, four ailerons and 180 h.p. Lycoming engine, was the ultimate competition aerobatic plane of its day. With a fantastic power-to-weight ratio, the Pitts was able to perform practically any maneuver, and its small size helped to hide mistakes from the judges during aerobatic routines. The S1-S achieved its finest moment during the 1972 World Aerobatic Championship in Salon de Provence, France. Charlie Hillard used the Pitts unique characteristics to perform his signature “Torque Roll,” a delayed tail slide where the aircraft continues to roll while falling backward. His four minute freestyle performance earned his and America's first World Championship (also the only time a biplane won the World Championships).
The Pitts Special S1-S on display was built by museum founder, Jim Cavanaugh, with the assistance of his father, James Cavanaugh, Sr. Construction of the aircraft took approximately two years, and it first flew in 1984. The Pitts Special is a well constructed example of what aircraft enthusiasts can do on their own given enough time, space and resources. Today, the Pitts Special is manufactured in Wyoming by Aviat Aviation and may be purchased as a finished, ready to fly product or as a project for home construction.
|ENGINE||Lycoming AEIO-360 200 h.p.|
|WING SPAN||17 feet, 4 inches|
|LENGTH||15 feet, 6 inches|
|HEIGHT||6 feet, 6 inches|
|WEIGHT (EMPTY)||830 pounds|
|MANUFACTURED BY||Aviat Aviation|
|TOTAL BUILT||Over 600|
|MUSEUM'S AIRCRAFT BUILT||1984|
|ON DISPLAY AT||Cavanaugh Flight Museum, Addison Airport (KADS), Dallas, Texas|
|MAXIMUM SPEED||185 m.p.h.|
|SERVICE CEILING||24,000 feet|