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Saturday, 24 May 2014 11:35

Pitts Special - Last Part

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Curtis Pitts died at the age of 89 on June 10, 2005 in Miami of complications during a heart operation.

Curtis is a legend in the international aerobatics world. That tiny biplane he designed in 1944 called "The Special," built without any intention of producing a series, with elegant form and design, along with some wonderful aerobatic performances, made the Pitts one of the aerobatic planes that caused the most interest and desire during his time.


That first Pitts Special and its predecessors revolutionized aerobatics, both in competition as well as in exhibitions.  Nowadays, Curtis Pitts' designs hold great influence in the aerobatics world and will surely continue to do so for many years, even if not in the highest categories. This is, without a doubt, proof of the genius of that first Curtis Pitts design.

Curtis' life history is a clear example of success, where his passion, talent, and dedication to his craft unite to make him one of the best aerobatic plane designers in the world. He was designing and working on planes up until the last days of his life. His achievements included no less than a dozen plane designs, including several unknown amateur models with several versions, all based on his original designs.

Pitts Model 12
Pitts Model 12

Today, the Pitts Model 12 is the last model in production that was 100% designed by Curtis and whose prototype Curtis flew.  This model is manufactured by Jim Kimball Enterprises in its Tangerine Airport facilities in Florida. They offer a two-seater version completely built and assembled at the factory, or a slightly different version in kit form. They have a reinforced single-seater version with some improved performances called the Model 12 S. Both versions have a 400 hp PF Vendeneyev M14P engine. According to Kimball Enterprises, this model maintains the spirit and originality of the first Pitts.

After the Model 12, the design of the Model 13 began, a high-wing version of the Pitts; but the design was never finished nor the plane built. Some years later, before Curtis would die, he signed a contract to complete plans for a more modern biplane. This contract was for the production of the Model 14. But when Curtis sold the rights to the Model 12, the terms of the deal greatly restricted the utilization of the Model 12 technology in his future designs. As a result, the design of the Model 14 is completely different than that of the Model 12.  It has a completely distinct wing structure, a new wing, a different tail, and a new landing gear design. At present, no prototype of the Model 14 has been created or flown.

That's why today the Model 12 is considered a collection of the BEST Curtis Pitts designs and the last Pitts model, 60 models currently having been produced and flown, and more than 108 models sold as kits.

Little Stinker
Little Stinker

Pitts Versions:


The basic model, built by Curtis Pitts and Phil Quigley in 1945. It had 55 hp (then, 90 hp with the Franklin engine), and completely rigid landing gear. Only the lower wing had ailerons, and both wings were not symmetrical, carrying the flat M-6.  Two models were built, the first called "The Special," and the second, "Little Stinker." Both have come with a variety of engines over the course of history.


S1-C Flatwing:

The S1-C was the first model that the designs plans could be bought. The lower wing being flat and semi-symmetrical keeps the ailerons just on the lower wing. The first models had 100 hp engines, but the latest versions use 180 hp engines.  The first flight was in1960, and the planes can be purchased at Steen Aero Lab.

Pitts S1-D
Pitts S1-D


Very similar to the S1-C with ailerons only on the lower wing, but with a slightly longer fuselage.




Pitts S1-E
Pitts S1-E


A version that was available only in kit form. Some S1-E models were later certified as S1-S models. The exact number produced is unknown, but it is calculated that some 100 S1-E models were sold. Like the S1-S, it has a 4-aileron system.


Pitts with Falcon wing, square tips, and 25% more surface on the ailerons.


S1-S - Round Wing:

Pitts S1-S
Pitts S1-S

This model was certified in 1973 and around 65 models were built. It has symmetrical wings on both wings with the same angles of incidence and four ailerons. The upper wing is positioned forward so that the stall enters first whether in normal or upside-down flight.


Very similar to the S1-S and with round tips. This modern version has the same ailerons as "Super Stinker," giving a rotation speed of 300 degrees per second and a good aileron center, very fitting for the world championships of the era. Steen Aero Lab offers the plans and components for the S1-SS.

Pitts S1-T
 Pitts S1-T



This model replaced the production of the S1-S in 1981. Aerotek built 64 models with 200 hp and made slight changes. Four ailerons, single-seater, factory-made, symmetrical wing with symmetrical ailerons, variable pitch with 2 or 3 blades and a Hartzell propeller. The upper wing was positioned forward in comparison to the S-1S for mass and balance. The model is in production since 2008 by Aviat Aircraft and available upon request.


Pitts S1-S Ultimate
Pitts S1-S Ultimate


A S1-S, but this model has the wing tip square with full wing ailerons to obtain higher rolling rates.






S1-11B Super Stinker
S1-11B Super Stinker

 S1-11B “Super Stinker”:

With 300 hp, exclusively prepared for the world championship. It has a revolutionary aileron design that was extremely popular for rolling at more than 300 degrees per second, with symmetrical wings and three blades.




Pitts S-2A
Pitts S-2A



The S1, scaled up to allow 2 seats in tandem, with a 200 hp engine.


Aerotek built 259 models of the S-2A with 200 hp, variable pitch, with a longer landing gear and a front cabin about 51 mm wider.


Pitts S-2B
Pitts S-2B


A S-2A with 260 hp. With an auxiliary fuel tank on the upper wing, the landing gear and the upper wing positioned forward about 6 inches. Today, it is not in production, but Aviat Aircraft supplies replacement parts.


With four ailerons, factory-made, symmetrical wings, 260 hp, with variable pitch.

It developed from the S-2B model; with ailerons, improved rudder limiter and landing gear, better performance in upside-down flight and certified for +6/-5g.


Amateur construction of the S-2A from factory-produced kits.

Pitts S-2S
Pitts S-2S


Aerotek built a S-2B with a single dome and single-seat, with another fuel tank.

The fuselage is 35 cm shorter in order to install the heavy 260 hp engine, and has better air penetration, more velocity, and better vertical lines. The wingspan is from 6.10 m. A total of 17 units were built.


Amateur construction of the S-2S from the factory-produced kits.




History of planes by Kenneth D. Green









Read 115449 times Last modified on Monday, 06 March 2017 08:40
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