The Pitts Special (company designations S1 and S2) is a series of light aerobatic biplanes designed by Curtis Pitts. It has accumulated many competition wins since its first flight in 1944. The Pitts biplanes dominated world aerobatic competition in the 1960s and 1970s and, even today, remain a potent competition aircraft in the lower categories.
Curtis Pitts began the design of a single-seat aerobatic biplane in 1943–1944. The design has been refined continuously since the prototype first flew in September 1944; however, the current Pitts S2 still remains quite close to the original in concept and in design.
Several of the aircraft that Curtis Pitts built had a picture of a skunk on them and were called "Stinkers". After she bought it, aerobatic performer Betty Skelton called the second aircraft that Curtis built, "Lil' Stinker". The prototype S-2, which was the first two-seat Pitts, was "Big Stinker", the prototype Model 11 (later called S1-11B) was "Super Stinker", and the prototype Model 12 was the "Macho Stinker".
In 1962 Curtis Pitts set up Pitts Enterprises to sell plans of the S-1C to homebuilders.
Certified versions of the Pitts are now produced by Aviat Aircraft in Afton, Wyoming. It is available as the S1 single-seater with an up to 200 hp (150 kW) flat-4 Lycoming engine and a 17 ft 4 in (5.28 m) wingspan, or as the S2 two-seater variant featuring a 260 hp (194 kW) flat-6 Lycoming and a 20 ft (6.1 m) wingspan. Pitts Specials have been equipped with engines of up to 450 hp (338 kW).
Plans for the single-seat Pitts S1-S are also available from Aviat Aircraft. The S1-C and derivative S1-SS plans and kits are supplied by Steen Aero Lab in Palm Bay, Florida. Many hundreds of homebuilders have successfully completed and flown the Pitts since plans became available in 1960.
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