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Curtis Pitts, 89; Creator of Popular Pitts Special Aerobatic Biplane

June 12, 2005|From Times Wire Reports

Curtis Pitts, 89, who created the popular aerobatic biplane known as the Pitts Special, died Friday in Homestead, Fla., of complications from a heart valve replacement.

The Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum in Washington has called the plane Pitts created in 1943 "revolutionary because of its small size, light weight, short wingspan and extreme agility."

Aerobatic pilot Betty Skelton brought attention to Pitts' design in the late 1940s and '50s when she won several championships in her model of his plane, dubbed the Little Stinker.

The Pitts Special, which can be broken down and shipped in pieces for reassembly in the buyer's home, became even more popular in the 1960s when Pitts began to create and sell construction drawings. The Smithsonian said the Pitts Special dominates aerobatic competitions to this day and is still the most successful and recognized American-built aerobatic design.

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