Pitts Special S1 History

The Pitts Special S1 is certainly one of the most famous airplanes in civilian aircraft history. It has performed at more air shows than any other type of aerobatic aircraft. Designed by Curtis Pitts in 1945, it fast became a favorite for aerobatics and has been the aircraft of choice for numerous national and international top ranked aerobatic pilots. With a fantastic power to weight ratio, the Pitts was able to perform practically any acrobatic maneuver.

This Pitts Special was hand build by the donor, John Manke, who was a former Director of Flight Operations for the NASA Ames Research Center. John began building this in 1969 aircraft after receiving the plans. After three years of work, N17J was completed. On September 15, 1972, the FAA gave a certificate of airworthiness.

Our Pitts was last flown in 1984 over the desert of Southern California. It was graciously donated to our museum in the summer of 2006. A Pacific Coast Air Museum member, Guy Smith, and his grandson, went to Southern California, brought it to Santa Rosa and reassembled the aircraft for static display.

The original Pitts design was created by Curtis Pitts in the mid 40s.  The first version, a Pitts 190 Special, was built in 1947 for pilot Betty Skelton.  After building a relatively small number of production aircraft, Curtis Pitts made plans available to amateurs so they could build their own.

In 1977, Pitts sold the all sales and production rights to a new company, Pitts Aerobatics, in Afton Wyoming.  In addition to plans and kits, production aircraft are still being made for those who desired a factory built aircraft.  The company is now known as Aviat Aircraft and is currently producing the S2-C two-place model of the Pitts.

Pitts Special S1 Specifications

Dimensions & Weights
Wingspan

17 ft 4 in

Length

15 ft 6 in

Height

6 ft 6 in

Empty weight

720 pounds

Gross Weight

1150 pounds

Accommodation

One: Pilot

Performance
Cruise speed

154 mph

Max speed

185 mph

Range

309 miles

Rate of Climb

2650 ft/min

Powerplant

IO-360 Lycoming, 200 HP

Manufacturer/Builder

Curtis Pitts Design Home Built
Built by John Manke 1969

Crew Chief

Guy Smith

Country of origin

USA

Manufacturer

Pitts

b/n or serial number

N17J

type

Civilian high-performance aerobatic stunt plane

ownership

Pacific Coast Air Museum

A FAMILY-FRIENDLY PLACE WITH HISTORY YOU CAN TOUCH!

There’s always something great going on at the Pacific Coast Air Museum. We have Open Cockpit weekends once a month,  special events throughout the year, and regular hot dog lunches. We host school field trips, special group tours, birthday parties, and family get-togethers, all among our collection of historic aircraft and educational exhibits.

VISIT PCAM