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Pitts S2A

Enjoying this thread because I love the Pitts.

But not the S2A – was in one once for 30 minutes, that was 30 minutes too long. A friend owned one and asked me for an aerobatics lesson. The front cockpit geometry killed my back in short order. Another friend owned a S2B and asked me for a few lessons. Totally different fuselage shape, you could get lost in the front cockpit, and I am a lot taller than average.

I have about 250 hours in the Pitts, mostly S2B, which I flew up to unlimited in the 1990s.

One comment I have to make is about landing it. The Pitts is the most misunderstood airplane in this phase. Yes, things happen a lot quicker, and you have to get used to using peripheral vision in the flare, but it is the most positive airplane on the ground. I can land a factory Pitts in a 35 knot crosswind. On a 40 foot wide runway. Without sweating. You have so much control, the factory gear is very stiff, and the wings don’t get blown about if you put it in a proper 3pt attitude. As some of the other posters have said, you need to use a curving approach. You don’t think of this as a problem, you can again use this to your benefit if it is windy and especially gusty. You use aerodynamic braking, where you can use G on both the wings and fuselage lift to slow the airplane down, which means you can approach much faster that normal and bleed off speed when and where you need it.

@hammer I think one of the challenges of the Pitts on landing is that most tailwheel pilots are used to bringing the stick back after landing to keep the tailwheel planted. As you no doubt know, this technique is almost certainly going to result in the Pitts getting a real bout of crowhoppin’, and if the technique is used as a matter of course inevitably a new tailwheel spring is needed every few weeks!

The instructors who instruct from the front seat in the S2-A have to be amongst the most skilled pilots. The view and the ergonomics has to be about the hardest one can imagine.

Oxford (EGTK), United Kingdom

this technique is almost certainly going to result in the Pitts getting a real bout of crowhoppin

Interesting comment. I can tell you that if I didn’t have the stick full back pretty promptly, my instructor was not happy. Not yank it bank the instant the wheels touch down, but take maybe a couple of seconds to get it right back, max. And hold it there.

He also said that the Pitts is the second hardest plane to land, the U2 being number 1. And that although he has instructed dozens and dozens of people to land it (the Pitts, not the U2, which I don’t think he instructed for), it is still his least favourite job in flight instructing. The pilot (student) has about a quarter second between flaring too early (ouch in a second or so) and too late (instant ouch). That means the instructor has <0.1S to save it in the latter case, given you want to let the student try.

I also agree with the earlier comment about just how controllable it is once you do get the wheels on the ground. There have been times when I was sure I was about to leave the runway, kick in a bit of rudder/tailwheel and it’s straight back on track. Whereas the T6 is not like that at all. All that inertia takes a LOT of turning once it is pointing the wrong way.

LFMD, France

@johnh I count myself blessed my introduction to the Pitts was by Alan Cassidy. He was fond of saying the first one thousand hours on type are the hardest, and I think he may have had 6,000 hours plus on the Pitts, including leading the British team to silver in the World Aerobatic Championships.

Perhaps the notorious undulating and varied White Waltham runways led to the technique of relaxing the stick on landing. A tail low wheel landing with relatively judicious braking allowing the stick to float after touchdown never presented any steering problems. Like all tailwheel types arriving at the right speed over the threshold (around 80-85 mph indicated) results in reasonable landings.

Oxford (EGTK), United Kingdom
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