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Old 02-19-2012, 09:01 PM   #1
Esch
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...and the only prescription is, a Pitts Special. At least that's the conclusion I have come to recently. I just joined the forum and introduced myself in this thread:http://www.biplaneforum.com/forum_posts.asp?TID=6182
It will be a few years before I can afford a plane, so for the time being I'm going to focus on getting my tailwheel endorsement and building time in whatever's available to me (there's an old Aeronca and a Citabria about an hour and a half away from me, that's the closest tailwheel CFI I am aware of). At some point I'll take a transition course in a two-seater Pitts so I will be ready to buy when a good plane comes along.
I've got a couple of questions for the Pitts owners here. The first one is about the value of a second seat. At first I was sure I had to have a two-seater - why wouldn't I want to give rides all the time to my friends? Plus take my girlfriend on short cross countries if she can handle the discomfort. But the extra expense is a big turnoff. I could get into a single seat Pitts much sooner. For those who don't use the second seat as a way to make money, how necessary or useful has it been? If you've got an S-1, do you find yourself wishing for an S-2?
The second question regards cross countries. I know this is a machine for short aerobatic hops, but I'll only ever be able to afford one plane at a time, so if I want to fly myself somewhere I'll have to put up with the short legs and limited baggage space. Just exactly how limited is the space in your average turtledeck? Approximate dimensions/capacity? I've heard "toothbrush and change of underwear" before but I wasn't sure if that was hyperbole or reality.
It's probably a good idea to say what my intended mission is. I'll work on improving my aerobatics until I feel comfortable enough to get into the contest world. I'm not looking to be super competitive, but I do want to learn as much as I can and participate at whatever level turns out to be appropriate for my skills. Other than that I can see myself doing laps in the pattern (I enjoy landings) and going for an expensive lunch every now and then; perhaps longer trips if I'm feeling adventurous.



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Old 02-19-2012, 09:45 PM   #2
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If your into competition I don't think there would be very many folks upgrading to a 2 seat pitts, simply put the single seaters are the superior aerobatic platform.
Having a good idea of your intended mission is a very good plan. There are many 2 place aircraft that you can compete to an intermediate level and still be able to take your girlfriend for rides.
Personally for longer cross countries most motorcycles make a single holer look like a bad plan "unless" your heading to a competition, then it really doesn't matter.
Enjoy the dreaming part, lots of fun and very cheap!




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Old 02-19-2012, 10:42 PM   #3
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Esch,
As for the two holer Pitts, unless you can find an S2E (experimental), you're relegated to the A, B or C (production aircraft) and that generally means quite a bit more money than a decent S1S. I have a two place Skybolt and I'm solo about 98% of the time.
Best regards,
Brad

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Old 02-19-2012, 10:47 PM   #4
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I find that one of the big joys I get out of flying is sharing it with others. Also I have Wife and Children so they think a single place airplane is rather a selfish use of family funds. Also I don't compete so the only pressure for a single seat is the $ factor. If you want to do 2 person multi day X countries you might put a torpedo baggage canister under the airplane but even then the average sport touring motorcycle will carry a LOT more. If you have a 2 place and go by yourself you can belt a good sized duffle in the front seat and have enough room for weeks at a time.

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Old 02-20-2012, 12:07 AM   #5
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You can get about a week's worth in an S-1. I used the turtledeck for a cloth bag that fit well (barely fit through the opening) and when packed full, used most of the space. The rest of the space in the turtledeck held a fueling hose, rags, a few tools and the charts I needed for the trip but didn't need for the leg I was flying. I also carried my wallet there so I didn't have to sit on it. And any spare change, keys, etc were packed away so they couldn't get loose and end up in the cockpit.

I used a garment bag for jeans, a few decent shirts and anything soft I didn't want to stuff into the turtledeck. I laid the garment bag behind the seat and hooked the hangers to the upper seat tubing. The garment bag laid on the elevator pushrods but you couldn't really feel it. I didn't do negative g stuff on X-country flights.

There was a bit of space behind the center of the instrument panel and in front of the tank. That space held a straw hat nicely. The hat was necessary to protect you from the sun when serving as a judge, starter, etc

As for the need for a second seat, I found that was not a big problem. If you didn't really want to take someone you had the perfect out. If you did have someone you wanted to fly with you could often borrow a friend's airplane or rent one. If you're flying competition you be alone most of the time by choice.

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Old 02-20-2012, 02:02 AM   #6
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It's funny, I often thought that a motorcycle would be a good analogy for cross country in an open cockpit biplane. I don't ride but I took an MSF dirt bike course and I can imagine similar problems - discomfort, noise, limited baggage space, etc. In any case I'd rather fly if I could! One expensive hobby is quite enough for me.
I will probably continue to be torn between one- and two-hole choices, but the lower cost and better aerobatics of the S-1 will likely seal the deal.* As much as I'd love to take my girlfriend flying, her mom said she'd kill me if I did anything but straight-and-level with her in the plane. I can always rent a Citabria for that - maybe get away with some gentleman aerobatics and it can be our secret. I don't see many non-pilot friends of mine enjoying the more robust stuff, especially outside, but that's where I'd like to get to myself. Perhaps farther in the future, if funds allow, I can "upgrade" to an S-2B. Until then I'll have to be selfish, as the cheapest S-2As and Es I've seen have been at least $15k more than the average S-1S, and the Bs are more than twice as much as a single seater.
Bill, that's a bit more space in the S-1 than I would have thought. I typically travel light regardless of my mode of transportation, so that does sound like a week's worth of stuff.
*By the way what are the reasons the S-1 ispreferredfor aerobatics over the two-seaters? Better power-to-weight? Does the shorter wingspan and fuselage lend itself to more agility? Weight concentrated closer to the CG?

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Old 02-20-2012, 11:55 AM   #7
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A single place Pitts has the power to weight ratio in its favor and a better roll rate, but -- the newer two place airplanes match up well with an older single place and sometimes do better. An S-1 can be upgraded to more modern specs with new or modded wings and to some extent a bit more power. An S-1 is cheaper to operate and as you mentioned, cheaper to buy making the single place a better value.

All things being equal I suspect the larger airplane may score better in competition due to the fact that it's easier to see. The monoplanes present very well to the judges and that's one of the reasons they now dominate competition flying.

Speaking of the CG, every airplane (especially homebuilts) is different and loading the airplane as I did for travel to contests does move the CG aft. If the airplane already has an aft CG you might not be able to get away with what I did.

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Old 02-20-2012, 09:55 PM   #8
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Esch,


I wouldn'tsay that the single seaters are better for competition.A stock180 hp S-1S will perform better than the S-2E (fixed prop), maybe onlymarginally better than the S-2A (200 hp CS prop), but starts to lose to the S-2B (260hp), and definitely the S-2C. The S-2B rolls a little faster (symmetrical ailerons)than the S-1Sand has more pull with that engine/prop combo. The S-2C performs a little better still than the B, but I assume you're not looking at those due to their high price.


In competition these days, any stockPitts (except forthe 11)isgenerally at its competitivelimit in the Advanced category. Both the S-1S and S-2B are competitive in Advanced, so from a pure performance standpoint,the question becomes is it worth the extra $60K (for an equally nice S-2B) for such asmallpracticaldifference? As Bill mentioned, the main competition advantage with the S-2'sis its larger size for better presentation (so the judges can see what the hell you're doing when you're high in the box). I can stuff everything I need in my S-1S baggage compartment for a 4-day stayat acontest.If you want
eed a two seater, then that's a separate issue. Someone recently posted this on the Acro Exploder and thoughit's a littleflip,there's a lot of truth:


"The same plot plays out many times. A newish acro pilot gets all motivated and decides it's time to buy an airplane. They are certain they need a two-place, with various reasons given such as "give my friends acro rides", "take wife to contests", etc. The truth is, even the shallowest extravert has about 25 friends. 10 to 15 will submit to an aerobatic ride. Perhaps 1 will ever go a second time. Done."


Since you're in central NC, consider joining and getting involved with our local IAC chapter 19 http://iac19.org We tend to practice at Siler City (5W8) a good bit, which is fairly central to several of our members. We also have a Facebook page (you don't have to sign up for FB) if you want to follow us. We usually post practices.


http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/IAC-Chapter-19/153761934665242


We'll have our spring contest in Wilson, NC (W03) May 18-19, so come meet up with us whether you have your Pitts or not. Competition ain't serious stuff, and its all for fun. Good luck with the Pitts, you've got the right approach.


Eric SandiferEdited by: grassroots

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Old 02-20-2012, 11:56 PM   #9
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I'd like to add a different POV to what Eric said about the various models' relative performance.

When I flew competition back in the 70's a stock S-1S was competitive in Unlimited and an S-2A was competitive in Advanced. There were two or three folks flying Advanced in 150HP Decathalons and I remember one competitor flying a modified S-2A in Unlimited. There was a very clear performance difference between an S-1S and an S-2A. There was a smaller difference between an S-2A and an Eagle but I can recall no one trying to fly a stock Eagle in Unlimited. I was at a slight disadvantage against the early monoplanes that Leo Loudensl*ger and Henry Haigh flew and against Kermit's S-1W but not to the point where I had no chance -- it was more about how well the pilot flew.

Today the sequences are more difficult, the airplanes are more capable and the differences are masked because the performance requirements have changed for each category. This does not change the fact that an S-2A is not in the same league as a stock S-1S.

I only have a few short flights in an S-2B but it was clear the airplane was a step up from a stock S-1S in just about every way. If you put the same aileron technology on the S-1 the differences become less and if you hang a pumped engine on the S-1 the differences would become smaller yet. Don't know about the C model, I haven't had the pleasure.

The problem with the higher performance S-2 models is cost -- both initially and hourly. If you really wanted a two place airplane, I'd suggest finding a good Christen Eagle. Otherwise, you are probably ahead to get an S-1 and mod it over time as you move up in competition.

Edited by: cwilliamrose
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Old 02-21-2012, 03:33 AM   #10
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I agree with cwilliamrose regarding the S-1S vs the S-2A, both of which I flew in Advanced in the '80s.

There's one area of competition where the S-1S seems to have a clear advantage over the S-2B. (I've never flown a B, so I'm just throwing this out for further discussion.)

About 10 years ago there was a controversial Advanced Unknown at the US Nationals. The problem was that one of the figures could not be flown safely in an S-2B. I've searched for the discussion on the ACRO newsgroup, but the complainant, Doug Sowder, makes hundreds of posts a year and I gave up looking for it. From memory, I think the figure was a 45 degree humpty with a snap roll on the 45 degree upline. He claimed that at the maximum allowed speed for an inside snap (140, I think) he would have 110 after a minimal line, and that wasn't enough to fly the upward half-loop without stalling out.

Doug went on to fly his B with the US team at an Advanced World
Championship, and as I recall no one disputed his claim that the figure
could not be flown without overstressing the plane, so it seems likely that he was right.

Now, my S-1S with a stock engine can do that figure hitting the snap at only 120 mph, drawing a short line and pulling into the loop at 95 mph. And it will happily do it at a density altitude of 5000 feet. It seems to have a major advantage over the B at slow speeds.

You will never encounter an Advanced Unknown an S-1S can't fly. With the B, it appears that you can't be sure.




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Old 02-21-2012, 12:05 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by allanf
........... He claimed that at the maximum allowed speed for an inside snap (140, I think) he would have 110 after a minimal line, and that wasn't enough to fly the upward half-loop without stalling out......... It seems to have a major advantage over the B at slow speeds.

I have little experience and no sequence work in a B but this is a surprise. I came away feeling the B pulled much better than the S-1S at low speeds and maintained its speed better through a maneuver. Case in point; an Immelman entered at 155mph. In a stock S-1S I'd expect 700-800 feet of altitude gain and minimal speed at the top for the half roll. In the B model I gained 1100 feet and had 80mph when I started the roll. It was quite the eyeopenerfor me.
I didn't try any low speed loops in the B but I'd think if I could pull around at 85 in an S-1, the B would do it too (maybe running out of rudder and effectively limiting the HP you could use?). I wish I had been able to fly the B model more, I liked it except for the spades on the ailerons which seemed to be too big.
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Old 02-21-2012, 02:38 PM   #12
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I think you have some well qualified opinions as to the performance capabilities of the various models, so I will comment on the one vs two seater question.
Eric quoted a posting from the Acro list and I remember when it was posted and trust me, the poster is not a shallow extrovert. I have had a two seat acro plane for 25 years and have given at least 500 aerobatic demo rides (only one got sick). To me, it is one of the funnest things to do with the plane to give people what is likely a once in a lifetime thrill although I have had many come back for second and third flights. The second seat also gives you the added utility of "regular" flying taking a friend to go for lunch or to the beach.
There is no doubt that a 4 cylinder 2 seater will not perform even close to an S-1S. Since you have yet to enter your first contest, you are a long way from saying that any plane is "limiting" you. Very few aspiring aerobatic pilots reach advanced. I would suggest that you buy a plane that suits you now. You are, or will be, a primary/sportsman competitor in which case any of the pitts models and any Eagle/Skybolt or many others will fit the bill and offer you more than just the Acro world of flying. If you get to the point where you find the plane limiting, then reassess at that point.

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Old 02-21-2012, 02:54 PM   #13
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My suggestion would be to find a way to do a couple contests in a rented or graciously shared aircraft. Best way to find those is go to a contest or three and volunteer.

I started in a borrowed Decathlon before getting a shot at an Eagle partnership. That worked great for 10 years up through Intermediate, and I'd still just have that airplane if the Wolf Pitts hadn't become available. Even after buying the WP, I still couldn't sell my share in the Eagle, it's a fantastic airplane.

In the 10 years I've owned it, I've only averaged 8 rides a year. Wish it was more, I really enjoy doing that.

If budget is tight, you may want to consider looking at a partnership. It is a great way of easing into ownership by having all the responsibility but only a portion of the pain (cost).

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Old 02-22-2012, 12:17 AM   #14
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One of my hobbies (and part of my job) is tactical rifle/pistol shooting. There are few people in the world with the time and ammo budget who ever get close to "out-shooting" the accuracy capability of their weapons. Sounds like the same thing with aerobatic aircraft. The analogy breaks down a bit, however, when one considers that improved accuracy is simply getting closer to your target. Improved performance in an airplane can always be enjoyed, even when it is used without much regard to precision. I might not need that higher climb rate or faster roll rate, since my flying is too sloppy to be judged well anyway, but I can sure enjoy having that capability for my own fun.
That said, I think if I were comparing an S-1S and an S-2A in equally good condition, and the S-2A was only about 10k more, and I could afford that, I'd go for the two-seater. I would like that ability to give rides despite a slight performance decrease. Most likely it will come down to price though.
Speaking of that, I'm glad you mentioned partnerships John. I had thought they'd be pretty difficult to find and arrange when it comes to aerobatic aircraft. It definitely makes financial sense, as I certainly won't be able to fly every day, but I would be worried about having to move due to work and then messing up the partnership. I haven't lived in the same place for more than 3 years in a long time.
Eric, thanks for extending the local IAC welcome to me; hopefully I'll be free for the May contest.

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Old 03-07-2012, 05:36 AM   #15
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Well looks like I won't be making it to that May contest. And I just had my parents ship my old Gentex helmet to me...
Just got short notice that I'll be deploying soon, for about six months. I've got a few leads on tailwheel CFIs near me, and I'm tempted to get at least one lesson before I leave, but in any case I plan to knock out the endorsement after I get back.
Long-term, I'm starting to think about different options for the path toward a Pitts. Renting will probably be cheapest up to a certain threshold of annual hours (not sure where the break-even point is), but might involve a lot of driving to find a taildragger I actually want to fly; i.e., tandem seating and a stick versus side-by-side with yoke controls. A partnership would probably be ideal, but if I can't find the right plane/fellow pilot combination, what about owning outright? Plenty of easier-to-fly taildraggers out there in the same price range as an S-1S (Citabria comes to mind). How many TW hours do you guys recommend before making the Pitts transition, for safety, confidence, and insurance purposes?

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Old 03-07-2012, 11:40 AM   #16
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You'll reach the point of diminishing returns pretty quickly in a Citabria. It is one of the easiest taildraggers you'll find. Once you have done some healthy X-wind landings (successfully) and flown from the back seat until it is comfortable the only thing left is padding the logbook.

I'm not sure what the typical insurance requirements are these days, could be just 10 hours in type or they want additional TW experience.

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Old 03-07-2012, 02:32 PM   #17
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These days, everyone I hear gettinginsurance on a Pitts is required to have 10 hrs in type, it seems, regardless of tailwheel time.I had 500 TW hrs (not a lot) when I bought mine, and still needed 10 in type to get a policy. I've got a couple friends who bought a Pitts and got their tailwheel endorsement in it, and I think it was still 10 hrs...althoughin this casetook them close to 20 hrs. to get comfortable andcompetent enough to solo.


LearningTW in a Pitts isvery uncommon, but can be done. Getting some tailwheel experience in a more forgiving plane like theCitabria or Cub will reduce the transition time and probably make it less frustrating. The Pitts is my third airplane after owning a Champ and an RV, and the progression and time in the Champand the RV made the Pitts transition prettystraightforward. I'm not sure how much hundreds of hrs in a Citabria will prepare you for flying the Pitts -it'll still be a pretty big adjustment. But the Pitts is just another airplane and is perfectly honest, and will take some adjusting to for anyone who doesn't have experience in high-performance bipes. So I think the prerequisite for flying a Pitts isn't somuch hours and experience in other tailwheel airplanes, but just good fundamental flying skills. Anybody can adjust if they have the desire, make the effort, and are careful tostay within their limitations as their skills increase.

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Old 03-07-2012, 06:34 PM   #18
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Ok, so it sounds like it's not necessarily a prerequisite to have a ton of TW hours before the transition, so long as the Pitts training is high quality. Considering the gap in performance between a tailwheel trainer and a Pitts this is understandable.

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Old 03-07-2012, 06:48 PM   #19
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Quote:
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These days, everyone I hear gettinginsurance on a Pitts is required to have 10 hrs in type, it seems, regardless of tailwheel time.
Yep. My tailwheel time ranges from banner towing to big-engine crop dusting. Didn't matter. Insurance company told me that I need 10 hours in type before they will write the policy.


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Old 03-09-2012, 01:01 AM   #20
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Getting a tailwheel cert in a Pitts is defiantly doable. I had zero tailwheel time prior to getting my Pitts checkout. Got ten hours of dual, bought a plane 4 months later then deployed 2 days later. Due to the length of time between my training and when I got back from OEF I elected to get another 10 hours of dual to get refreshed before I would fly my S-1.Insurance company wrote a policy after only having 10 hours total tailwheel, not sure if the 3000 hours in C-130s counted for anything.

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Old 03-22-2012, 08:17 AM   #21
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cowbell wouldn't do it for ya eh? lol



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