Now it really begins



It happened. My mind is blown and I am officially in karma-debt: I’m the proud owner of a beautiful Pitts Special S-1S aerobatic biplane.

Here’s a laundry list of reasons this situation is seriously taxing my karma. I couldn’t have dreamed it any better:

  • It’s a beautiful, extremely well-cared-for airplane
  • It’s been based at my local airport (Lee-KANP Annapolis, MD) for 13 years
  • It’s in a hangar with three other Pitts, all S-2’s, owned by experienced Pitts pilots, who’ve all been extremely generous with their time and experience
  • The hangar is .5nm from my house
  • The hangar is next to Bill Finagin (in fact Bill owns both hangars and we rent from him)
  • Bill is a rare and valuable resource by himself, having 5 other Pitts hangared feet away is amazing
  • Karen took excellent care of the airplane and has been very generous with her time and experience in answering questions
  • Knowing the previous owner and other pilots who’ve known the airplane for thirteen years, including the mechanic who has done all the work, is extremely comforting and a very rare thing when buying an airplane
  • It was factory re-covered and extensively refreshed eighteen months ago


In my wildest dream the plan was to maybe hope to start looking for an airplane in late 2014. I’m so far ahead of plan I’m completely overwhelmed in the best possible way.

I’m not even ready to fly it yet. I have my tailwheel endorsement (but only 15 hours total tailwheel) and a few more Pitts-transition hours with Bill and I’m almost ready. I’m also dedicating the time and money for Bill’s Spin & Emergency Recovery course. I consider it required training and the best insurance available, not to mention just plain fun.

In the mean time I have a few small projects I can work on.

  • Replacing the flat wooden seat pan with an aluminum sling similar to the production builds. I’ll go with a seat-pack chute to get back far enough to get my knees out of the panel and the new seat pan should get me down another inch or so.
  • Order a Quiet Technologies Halo in-the-ear headset which will give me a bunch more headroom compared to the Telex Stratus 50D behemoth earcup ANR.
  • New vinyl lettering to apply to the cockpit panels.
  • It was already in beautiful condition so I’m cleaning, polishing, and waxing now so when I’m ready to fly I can concentrate on the flying for a few months.

It was homebuilt in 1993 and I’m the third real owner, including the builder.

If it’s not clear let me reiterate; I can’t believe my good fortune and I plan to make good use of it. I’m not so much an owner as I am the current custodian. (Please god don’t let me do anything stupid. I don’t underestimate my capacity for stupid.)

Click here for a Pitts S-1S Overview (courtesy of Aviat Aircraft)

Current Specs

Engine 180 HP Lycoming IO-360
Propeller Sensenich 76EM8-0-62
Gross Weight 1150 pounds
Empty Weight 850 ± pounds
Useful Load 300 ± pounds
Fuel Capacity 120 pounds (20 US gallons)
Oil Capacity 15 pounds (8 quarts)
Length 15 feet 6 inches
Wing Span 17 feet 4 inches
Wing Area 98.5 square feet
Seats 1
Top Speed 176 mph
Max Cruise 155 mph
Stall Speed 62 mph
Rate of Climb 2,600 fpm
Rate of Rolll 180 deg/sec
Range ± 300 miles