Pitts Aircraft Company
Aviat Aircraft

The Pitts Special, a series of light aerobatics biplanes designed by Curtis Pitts, which have accumulated more competition wins than any other aircraft since its first flight in 1944. The Pitts Special dominated world aerobatic competition in the 1960s and 1970s and even today, remains a potent competition aircraft in the lower categories. They are named for their designer Curtis Pitts.

Certified versions of the compact Pitts Special are now produced by Aviat in Afton, Wyoming. It is available as a S1 single seater with a 200 horsepower (150 kW) flat-4 Lycoming engine and a 17' wingspan or as a S2 two seater variant featuring a 260 hp (194 kW) flat-6 Lycoming and a 20 ft (6 m) wingspan. The Pitts Special held sway over the aerobatic world championships until the rise of the monoplane, though it remains very competitive in all levels of competition and remains a favourite of airshow performers worldwide. The first monoplane to topple the venerable Pitts from the top of unlimited aerobatic competition was the Russian built and designed Yak-50

Today, the single-seat Pitts Special S1-C and S1-SS designs are still offered in the form of plans and all necessary components by Steen Aero Lab in Palm Bay, Florida. The S1 continues to provide extremely high performance at a relatively low cost, in a fairly simple airframe which many hundreds, and perhaps several thousand, homebuilders have successfully completed and flown ever since plans became available in 1960.

While there are now many versions of the Pitts Special, in both 1- and 2-seat versions, as well as quite a few similar/derivative aircraft and a couple of other separate Pitts designs, it is widely accepted in the aviation community that the Pitts Special is THE standard by which all other aerobatic planes are judged - and few have ever matched. The design has been refined continuously since the prototype's first flight in 1944, however, the current Pitts Specials still remain quite close to the original in concept and in actual design... a testament to the genius of Pitts' original concept. Pitts also built several monoplane racing planes in the 1940s-50s, the most famous of which was known as the Pitts Pellet or "Lil' Monster". He also built a two-seat sport monoplane called the "Big Hickey" and possibly some other one-off aircraft.

Several of the planes that Curtis built had a picture of a skunk on them and were called Stinkers. The second plane that Curtis built was called Lil' Stinker by Betty Skelton after she bought it. The prototype S-2A, which was the first 2 seat Pitts, was Big Stinker. The prototype S1-11B was Super Stinker. The prototype Model 12 was the Macho Stinker.

Curtis Pitts died at age 89. At the time of his passing, he was working with Steen on the prototype of the new Pitts Model 14, a brand-new, 2-seat aerobatic biplane powered by the 400 hp Vendenyev radial engine. The Model 14 is designed for unlimited aerobatics.