Model Airplane News
august, 1950

Model Airplane News Cover for august, 1950 by Jo Kotula Pitts Special S-1 Little Stinker

Pitts Special S-1 "Little Stinker"
Model Airplane News Cover Art for august, 1950
by Jo Kotula
Click to Enlarge

The Pitts Special S-1,was constructed by Curtis Pitts, part of a famous line that dominated aerobatic competition throughout the 1960s and 1970s because of their small size, light weight, short wingspan, and extreme agility. Subsequent models still fly in all aerobatic categories and are standard aircraft for advanced aerobatic training.

 The Pitts Special S-1 Little Stinker    Betty Skelton     The Pitts Special S-1 Little Stinker

Pitts Special S-1 "Little Stinker"
Photo on the right was the inspiration for the cover
Click to Enlarge

Betty Skelton was born in Pensacola, Florida,and made her very first solo flight at the tender age of 12. She wanted a career in aviation and began working as a clerk for Eastern Airlines at night, leaving her days free to fly. She received her commercial rating at 18, and, in short order, her flight instructor and multi-engine ratings. Frustrated over the prohibition of women from military aviation and commercial airline jobs in mid-1940s, she set out to find her own niche in aerobatics. Betty toured the southeastern air show circuit and became part of the legendary group of performers of the postwar era. She won her first International Feminine Aerobatic Champion on January 1, 1948 flying her Great Lakes.

Betty Skelton bought the Pitts S-1 in 1948, and named it Little Stinker . She won the 1949 and '50 International Feminine Aerobatic Championships. Her impressive flying skill and public relations ability heightened awareness of both aerobatics and the Pitts design. In 1959, she became the first woman to undergo many of the physical and psychological tests given to the original Mercury seven astronauts and chronicled by Look magazine. Skelton sold Little Stinker in 1951, but she and her husband later reacquired it and donated it to the Smithsonian. A volunteer crew restored it from 1996 to 2001.

Here is a video of the Pitts Special S-1 "Little Stinker" in action:

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