Curtis Pitts And His Airplanes Changed Sport Flying
REAL TIME UPDATE: 1725 EDT -- EAA President Tom
Poberezny received a call from the Curtis Pitts family late Friday
morning to inform EAA that the legendary aircraft designer had
passed away at the age of 89.
According to the EAA, Tom shared with family members the impact
Curtis had on his personal life, most notably flying a Pitts
Special in his years with the Red Devils aerobatic team as well as
flying a Pitts while competing in the World Aerobatic
Championships. All told, Tom has more than 3,300 hours piloting
"More important was his personality and willingness to share so
much with those who were in pursuit of aviation as a career,
recreation, or aerobatic performer," he said. "As we mourn, we
should take this opportunity to celebrate his life and
contributions to the aviation community."
"I only intended to build one airplane - for myself," Pitts, who
lived in Homestead, FL, told the Dothan, AL, Eagle in 2003. Selfish
intentions aside, Pitts' aircraft soon became synonymous with
He loved to watch the sport, often attending fly-ins as a
special guest or regular visitor. "It's better than watching TV,"
he said. "... I wanted to retire, but it seems like these people
won't let me."
In 1990, a group of
aerobatic pilots from all over the world gathered in Florida to
help Curtis Pitts celebrate his birthday. Here's what they had to
say about his contribution to aerobatics:
Curtis didn't invent
aerobatics. He didn't invent biplanes. He didn't invent the concept
of small planes with big engines. He did, however, re-invent all of
those factors and mold them into the image we now know as modern
aerobatics. He and his little airplanes completely rewrote the
aerobatic history books and opened the world of serious aerobatics
and pure high performance to the masses. As a result of his
efforts, an individual with dedication and a yearning for the third
dimension could take a roll of drawings and convert them into a rag
and tube ball of lightning that would never fail to take their
There's a sticker that
you'll often see on the flight bags and airplanes of aerobatic
pilots that says, "A Pitts is something special." And that
doesn’t just refer to the airplane.
Curtis Pitts has gone west,
where flying is fun and perfection a passion. For those of us left
behind, he'll always be "something special."