Pitts 70th at Air Venture


Long before there were kits, composites or even much in the way of plans there was Curtis Pitts. Marshalling the best of Greatest Generation scrounging and make-do attitudes, he ushered in the (barely!) post-war era of amateur-built sport planes on August 28, 1945 with his iconic Pitts Special. It remains an excellent plans-built project with plenty of support in single- and two-seat configurations.

With just 55 hp because, “the engines were plentiful and money wasn’t,” the original Pitts was still considered a good performer because it weighed under 500 lb.

Pitts radial
Model 12 Pitts sport the M-14 Russian radial and wee bit more thrust than the original. This one in front of the IAC chalet makes do with 450 hp from its Barrett Precision Engines modified round motor.

Now celebrating its 70th birthday, the apparently timeless Pitts is featured center stage at the International Aerobatic Club’s chalet on the AirVenture flight line. It is hoped an appropriate 70 of the aggressively maneuverable biplanes will make Oshkosh to mark the occasion, but after a blustery weekend the count today was more like 30. With much better weather on hand no doubt more of the type will make the Oshkosh flight line.

No flying tribute is on the AirVenture schedule, but the IAC is displaying a very nice timeline and associated memorabilia inside their flight line chalet, along with solid nuts-and-bolts seminars. Outside a replica of the first Pitts and a hulking round-motored Model 12 bookend the Pitts legacy at the IAC chalet’s front door with the remaining attendees tied down just across the road.


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