Pitts Special

Mr. Curtis Pitts

Pitts Special Development and History

Curtis Pitts began the design of a single-seat aerobatic biplane in 1943-44. The design has been refined continuously since the prototype’s first flight in September 1944; however, the current Pitts S2 still remains quite close to the original concept in design.

All single-seat (S-1) and two seat (S-2) Pitts Specials are variations of the basic design. Pitts produced limited numbers of aircraft during the 1940’s and 1950’s.

The Pitts Special became the standard by which all other aerobatic aircraft were judged.

Pitts S-1 (single seat)

 Pitts S-2 (two seat trainer)


While many homebuilt aircraft were built in the 1960’s, Pitts worked on the design of a two-seat aerobatic trainer version, the S-2, which first flew in 1967. Factory-built aircraft produced by the Aerotek Company in Afton, Wyoming were joined in production by the single-seat S-1S in 1973.

The design’s popularity grew significantly following Bob Herendeen’s participation

Pitts Instrument Panel

on the USA Aerobatic Team in a Pitts Special in the World Aerobatic Competition in Moscow, Russia in 1966. In 1972, the US Aerobatic Team won the World Championships flying only in Pitts biplanes. In 1977 Curtis Pitts sold his interests in the Pitts S1 and S2 to Doyle Child. Child later sold the rights in 1981 to Frank Christensen, who continued production at the Afton plant under the name of Christen Industries. The rights for homebuilt versions of the Pitts were sold in 1994 to Steen Aero Lab, with the Afton factory and production rights being transferred to Aviat.

Curtis Pitts died in 2005 at age 89. At the time of his death, he was working with Steen on the prototype of the new Pitts Model 14; a brand new, two-seat biplane designed for unlimited aerobatics powered by the 400 horsepower Vedeneyev M14P radial engine.  

Source of some of this material: Wikipedia.org/wiki/Pitts_Special