model is designed for .049 to .15 glow, but I think it would be a marginal
performer on anything below a .10. In fact, I think it is just right with
the CV-A which is more powerful than a sport .15.
Because of its small size I thought I was going to have a difficult time
flying it. This did not prove to be true. Conversely, the control
throws suggested by the plans are actually very tame. I learned that a
blue and white color scheme on a small aircraft is a bad idea though.
I have come dangerously close to losing the plane due to
happens at least once during the course of almost every flight. At this
point, I always enlist the help of a spotter whenever I fly it. With the
O.S. .15, the model is fast and can get away from me quickly. The idea is
to keep the model close and never fly past the sun (which is a good idea with
I have found the rudder to be as effective as the ailerons in rolling the
aircraft. Knife edge flight is pretty much out of the question. I
use a computer radio and never could get the roll-coupling mixed out. In
fact, I never even got it close. But the model really is not intended for
I like a faster roll response than can be had with the ailerons even when
deflected as far as mechanically possible. However, they are effective
enough to fly the model, perform rolls, etc.
I asked one of the
better German pilots to do the test flights, but he could not use my radio
because American and European radios have the sticks reversed. I elected
to hand launch the model due to concern that the Pitts would flip over on the
grass runway before it ever came up to flying speed.
Another flyer hand launched the Pitts which turned
out to be a very tricky proposition. The gentleman who performed all the
launches on the first day did a wonderful job. He would run a few steps and
gently launch the aircraft nice and level. From there the Pitts would lose
a couple feet of altitude while gaining flying speed and then climb out with no
problems. After getting the plane trimmed for straight and level flight,
it was very stable.
The next time I went to the field, the story was different. The man who
had launched my Pitts previously was not there so I enlisted the help of another
modeler. I handed my assistant the aircraft and gave him the go-ahead.
He then proceeded to run... and run... and run... and run... He had run
fifty yards and was still running.
Right then I should have shut
down the engine because I had my doubts that he knew what he was doing.
Eventually he reared back as far as he could and threw my new plane straight into the
ground. Fortunately, he felt really bad afterward
which is all I really ask.
The Pitts is really a difficult aircraft to hand launch. The fuselage must
be grasped well behind the center of gravity which promotes an unstable release.
After the crash, the landing gear was bent ninety degrees rearward and the
engine had punched through the firewall. I built a new
firewall, bent the landing gear back into place, readjusted everything and set
out to try it again.
The next time there was still another person who volunteered to launch my
Pitts. He had seen what happened before so he knew I wasn't going to
be happy if it happened again. He threw the plane side-arm which put it
into knife-edge flight immediately upon release. The right wingtip was pointed straight at
the ground and it was nosing down fast.
I gave the model a second to gather
speed and then fed in left rudder and aileron. I was sure my Pitts was
going to crash, but I wanted the wings level because the torsion from impacting on
a wing tip probably would have destroyed the plane.
Somehow the plane managed to roll level, but now it was headed for the
ground at too slow of a speed for the elevator to be effective and it was also
headed for the trees. I pulled in full elevator and not ten feet from the
trees it suddenly pitched straight up. As it reached the top of the tree
line it ran out of momentum and stalled.
Some rudder was kicked in to do a stall turn and now
the Pitts was heading straight for the ground again. Once it picked up speed, I
eased in some elevator and headed out to where I was supposed to be flying in
the first place. That was my all time greatest save and I am pretty darn
proud of it.
The flight continued normally after this anxiety producing "take off," although
my knees did not stop shaking until the Pitts was safely back on the ground.
The next flight I did it to myself. I was flying around trying to wring
her out and see what her capabilities were. I did rolls, snap rolls, loops
Next I rolled the Pitts into inverted flight. It started nosing down so
I fed in more down elevator. Eventually, it was about 20 degrees down from level flight even with full
down elevator. Realizing that I did not have enough elevator to maintain
inverted flight, I made the worst choice possible.
Instead of rolling
upright and continuing on, I cut the throttle so it would maneuver more tightly
and pulled full up elevator. That would have been fine if I had twenty
more feet of altitude. It dove in hard to the farmer's field
adjacent to our flying field. I saw parts flying everywhere and thought
the model would be a total loss.
When I arrived at the crash site, this little plane again proved its
The parts I saw flying were only the interplane struts. The ground
it crashed into was freshly plowed, so the dirt was soft which probably saved
the model from total destruction.
The engine was full of dirt as expected. The landing gear was
bent straight back again. The leading edge on the lower right wing was
cracked in three places, but the parts fit back together well, so I simply glued
them back together and gave them a light sanding to smooth the glue joints.
Other than disassembling the engine, the entire
repair took under an hour. All of these flights were made without the
cowling which most likely would have been destroyed in either incident.
For those flights that I choose to land on the wheels instead of the spinner,
landing is easily accomplished. With its wing loading the Pitts is no
floater, however. Approximately one-third throttle is required to maintain
altitude. Anything less than that brings it down fast. I just keep
it flat and under power to touch-down.
Since those first days of hand launching, I have started taking the Pitts off from the ground. I have
to hold full up elevator during the take-off run to prevent it from flipping
over and the grass has to be recently mowed. I have had many enjoyable
flights since my first mishaps with no further damage being done even though it
ground loops with annoying regularity.
I have found that having someone hold the model
and starting it off at about 1/2 throttle helps prevent ground loops. The
rudder is effective almost immediately and the plane tracks pretty straight on
Even using this method (on grass) I still hold full up elevator until the
plane breaks ground and then I neutralize it. It is not "the book" method
of taking off, but using a normal take-off method results in about one take-off
for every four attempts - the other three ending with the model on it is back and
the interplane struts scattered to the wind.
At this point my Pitts is semi-retired and hangs from my ceiling. It still looks good and I want
to keep it that way. Every flight results in the landing gear becoming
just a bit sloppier and uglier.
Drawing on my experience with this model I think I could do a much better
job on another which would resolve most of the problems - mainly the weight.