The Pitts S-1S Special is a single-seat, single-engined biplane aerobatic trainer built using fabric covered welded steel tubing for the fuselage, and fabric covered
wings with wood spars. The leading edge is made of formed plywood. The landing gear is solid aluminum. The Pitts Special line ran on standard piston engines. Factory
production was performed by the US-American manufacturers Pitts Aerobatics, Aerotek, Christen Industries and since 1991 by Aviat Aircraft. In 1970, the manufacturing
operation known as Pitts Aerobatics was started in Afton, Wyoming, using the plant facilities and experienced manufacturing personnel who previously built the Call Air A-5
and A-9 agricultural aircraft. The first Pitts Special S-2A was produced in Afton in 1971. During the 1970's, most Pitts Special versions were Type-Certified under the
requirements of FAR Part 23 in the Acrobatic Category. Since then, the Pitts Special S-2B received Type-Certification and become the most popular version of the Pitts Special
line produced. In March 1991, Aviat Inc. acquired the Type Certificates and rights to the Pitts Special aircraft. Subsequently those rights were purchased by Aviat Aircraft Inc.
in December of 1995. Marketing, Engineering, Fabrication, Assembly, and Flight Testing operations for the Pitts Special line were all conducted at the Afton, Wyoming location.
The Pitts Special S-1 is the single-seater, the S-2 is the two-seat variant. Plans for the S-1 single-seater and Model 14 are currently distributed by Steen Aero Lab while plans
for other versions are sold by Aviat Aircraft. The aircraft can be built from plans or as a kitplane, or can be bought ready-to-fly from the factory. The ICAO code
for the Pitts S-1S is PTS1.
Of the Pitts Special, known as the most ubiquitous aircraft flown in amateur aerobatic competition, were several versions built.
Pitts main versions
- Pitts S-1 — took its first flight in September 1944. It was first popularized by aerobatic performers Betty Skelton and Caro Bayley in the 1940s and 1950s.
- Pitts S-1 — basic single-seat Pitts aerobatic biplane with a flat M6 aerofoil section and lower wing ailerons only, fitted with a variety of engines.
- Pitts S-1C — Amateur-built S-1 single-seat aircraft, flat bottom wing with ailerons on lower wing only, designed for 100–180 hp engines. First flown in 1960, is available as a plans-built aircraft from Steen Aero Lab.
- Pitts S-1D — Amateur-built S-1C with ailerons added on all four wings, generally similar to S-1S.
- Pitts S-1S — Aerotek-built certified S-1C for competition aerobatics, round airfoil section, four ailerons, and powered by a 180 hp Lycoming AEIO-360-B4A. 61 built. This model is also available from Aviat Aircraft as a plans-built aircraft.
- Pitts S-1T — Aerotek-built S-1C with a 200 hp Lycoming AEIO-360-A1E and minor changes; 64 built. Four-aileron, single-seat, symmetrical wing, symmetrical ailerons, constant speed two-blade or three-blade Hartzell propeller. The top wing was moved forward compared to the S-1S for weight and balance.
- Pitts S-1T Raven — Amateur-built S-1T with Raven Factory built wings; powered by a 260 hp Lycoming AEIO-360-A1E.
- Pitts S-2 — Scaled up S-1 with tandem two-seat fuselage and powered by a 200 hp Lycoming AEIO-360-B4A piston engine.
- Pitts S-2A — Aerotek-built two-seat version of the Pitts Special, similar to the single-seat S-1 in basic configuration and construction, but slightly larger in overall dimensions, with no attempt at commonality or components. The S-2A is fitted with a 200-hp Lycoming IO-360-AIA engine, driving a Hartzell two-blade metal constant-speed propeller with spinner.
- Pitts S-2B — Aerotek-built S-2A with a 260 hp Lycoming AEIO-540-D4A5 engine, upper wing auxiliary fuel tank, the landing gear and upper wings were moved forward six inches.
- Pitts S-2C — Four aileron, two-seat, factory-built, symmetric airfoil, 260 hp Lycoming driving constant speed three-blade propeller; evolution of the S-2B model, with improved ailerons and rudder, flat bottom fuselage, lower profile bungee gear, better inverted handling, and certified for +6 -5g. In production by Aviat Aircraft
- Pitts S-11 — became the S1-11B. It increased the previous Pitts S1 models' 180-200hp engine to 300+, and is is known as the "Super Stinker".
- Pitts S-12 — known as the "Macho Stinker" was built around the Vedeneyev M14P/FP 360hp radial engine. It's also known as the "Bolshoi" and "Pitts Monster".
- Pitts S-14 — has a short 21.5 feet wingspan with a straight upper wing; uses the Vedeneyev M14P/FP 360hp radial engine as powerplant.
In 1985, Pitts S-1S Special s/n WELL4Q2 was built by Brandt: the airworthiness test of this amateur built Pitts S-1S was on 9 May 1985.
The aircraft was registered N44R in the USA as an experimental aircraft. The 2 blade propeller of the Pitts is driven by an 180 hp
Lycoming IO-360-A1A engine. On 21 July 2003, registration N44R was cancelled as exported to the Netherlands. On 22 July 2003, the
Pitts S-1S was registered PH-WDY in the Netherlands with F.M. van Houten, an aerobatic pilot well-known as Frank “Woody” van Houten.
On 22 July 2010, the CofA expired, and registration PH-WDY was cancelled on 28 September 2011.
On 19 September 2009, Pitts S-1S Special PH-WDY 'Dutch Rush' was seen during the Heldair Show Maritiem 2009 at Den Helder Airport /
Maritiem Vliegkamp De Kooy. Today, Dutch Rush Aerobatics operates Sukhoi Su-26MX PH-SMX.