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The Pilot * The Plane * The Show

The Pilot

Keith has been obsessed with flying for as long as he can remember. He can still remember a time when he thought he could fly like the birds, but a leap into the air to soar with the birds ended badly at age 3 or 4. Since then, it’s been an obsession with flying IN airplanes.

Keith was 15 before he was able to talk his parents into taking him to the airport to start flying lessons. He was a private pilot on his 17th birthday. Getting permission to fly was much easier than borrowing the family car. Keith has owned several single and twin-engine airplanes over the years. In addition to flight instruction, Keith has flown freight operations – mainly in the upper Midwest. It seems that he has too many cargo stories that start with the line, “I was taking off from Fargo this cold snowy night and,….”

All was right with the world until that first aerobatic ride. Like many pilots, he signed up for one of those 10 hour aerobatic courses that were designed to introduce experienced pilots to the world of aerobatics in a Pitts Special. This was all it took. After the course, Keith bought the airplane from the instructor, who is now a well know air show pilot. Well, that was 2004 and things have changed a bit. Keith started aerobatic competition in 2005 and teaching aerobatics in 2008. He began performing in 2011 so he could share the fun with others!

The Plane

. This airplane was designed by Curtis Pitts and first flew as a single-seater in 1944 with a tiny engine. One of the first changes to the airplane was more horsepower. In subsequent changes, the airplane grew in speed and performance. By the 60s, plans were sold to homebuilders who usually put 180 or more horsepower on their airplanes. These were still single-seat airplanes but, they were quite different in handling characteristics than anything else flying. Flying available tail-wheel airplanes did not adequately prepare pilots to fly a Pitts. Many of the painstakingly built airplanes crashed on the first landing. A TRAINER was needed. The Two-Seat S-2 TRAINER Pitts was certified in 1971 with 200 HP. That grew to 260HP when the S-2B went into production. The Pitts line continued to evolve in power and performance. Many air show performers today fly highly modified versions of the Pitts that demonstrate unbelievable performance capabilities. Many of those same pilots started flying those fire breathing monsters after learning (to land) in the 2-seat trainer version. The airplane that Keith flys is a stock, FAA certified airplane not experimental. See if the show that Keith flys looks like a training flight you want to take.

Engine: Lycoming 260 horsepower
Wingspan: 20' 0"
Length: 18' 9"
Empty weight: 1,208 lbs
Rate of climb: 2,700 f/m
Cruise speed: 175 mph
Max speed: 210 mph
Landing speed: 95 mph
Fuel capacity: 28 Gal

The Show

There is nothing that looks quite like a biplane in an airshow. There's a certain finesse about the way two wings fly as one. Everyone expects to see the rolls and loops from a factory certified Pitts, but most don't expect the tumbles, snaps, hovering torque roll/tail slide and -- can you imagine -- a double hammer-heaed. There is even an outside loop in the middle of a Cuban eight. Keith gets custom performance from a standard trainer airframe. This show goes from 200 MPH to reverse and back again; a true demonstration of skills and thrills!