Final Flights: July 2005

 - October 10, 2006, 12:00 PM

Curtis Pitts, creator of the popular aerobatic biplane known as the Pitts Special, died June 10 from complications from a heart valve replacement. He was 89. In 1945 Pitts built the first in a line of aircraft that dominated aerobatic competition in the 1960s and 1970s. Pitts’s goal was to build an aircraft that would climb, roll and change attitude more quickly than the larger biplanes of the WWII era, which he accomplished by using horizontally opposed engines and powerful flight controls. Perhaps the best known Pitts Special was Betty Skelton’s Little Stinker.

Gordon Baxter, storyteller extraordinaire for Flying Magazine and Texas Piney Woods radio broadcaster, died last month at age 81 following reported respiratory problems. His “Bax Seat” column on the last page of Flying was the first stop for many readers during the nearly 30 years it ran.