Who, what, when & why
When I first asked my dad if I could build an aircraft in the garage at home, his response was something along the lines of "No, you can't build an aircraft in the garage". Well, several months later...
Yes, yes we can build an aircraft in the garage! But clearly not one that looks like that (above left). It turns out that to build an aircraft in your ordinary single width car garage at home, you first need to throw away a few things. Ok, a lot of things. Ok the entire contents … sorry dad! After that you just need to dig up your parents garden to make way for the 8 foot extension on the back, build a new pitched roof to provide extra storage space, convert part of it into a utility room to keep the parents happy, and then you have yourself a garage/workshop/hangar to work in. Simple, really.
I have been competing in aerobatic competitions with the British Aerobatic Association (BAeA) since 2012, with my first competition flight taking place at the Shropshire Aero Club in a Slingsby Firefly T67M-MK2, G-BUUK, where I finished 4th with 78%. After doing a few Beginners & Standard competitions that year and in 2013, it was time for a change in aircraft. That's when myself and 3 others formed a group and purchased what I fly today - a Pitts S-2E, G-KITI.
KITI has been an incredible steed for me over the past 3 years, of which I've learnt a lot from. Totally different to the Slingsby Firefly which I learnt in, being far more maneuverable and powerful. I instantly fell in love with how a Pitts flies and grew an attachment to our beloved little yellow Pitts, nicknamed "Kitty".
The 2014 season was my first in KITI, having only done my first solo flight in a Pitts on the 2nd March 2014, and we entered nearly every competition that year. This first season turned out to be very successful for me and KITI, ending the season with 2 competition trophies, 8 medals (3 gold, 4 silver & 1 bronze), and 3 end of season trophies, including the Pitts Trophy for the highest scoring Pitts pilot overall!
After 2 successful seasons in KITI, one at Standard and one at Intermediate level, I started to think towards the future and what I would be flying when I work my way up to Advanced competitions. These Advanced competitions are dominated in numbers by high performance carbon monoplanes, and very few Pitts. A large jump from our little yellow Pitts with too many wings and other draggy bits, some would say. Now don't get me wrong, I could compete at Advanced competitions in KITI, but to actually be competitive I'm going to need something else.
But I don't want a monoplane. I've fallen in love with the Pitts. Not just the way that they fly, but their history, their character, and their photogenic looks. A Pitts is that classic "stunt plane" shape that people remember from airshows. I want a biplane.
What are we building?
A high performance biplane, the Pitts S-1-11B "Super Stinker", built with a Wolf Canopy & Cowl and Raven Wings. All of which will help clean up the design of the aircraft, making it less draggy and look far better than a fully stock S-1-11B.
There are only a handful of Pitts S-1-11B's flying worldwide, and ours will become the second only in the UK. We plan to keep you updated on our progress throughout the entire build, all the way up until its first flight which we hope will be towards the end of 2018.
Some people will say that we're mad, that it wont be the competitive aircraft we want it to be, and I should just buy a modern monoplane. That certainly would have been the easier option. But then you don't get the story we're currently writing of 2 brothers & family building a high performance biplane in their garage, at home.
Flying since 2009, Alex is a seasoned competition pilot currently flying BAeA Intermediate competitions all over the UK in a Pitts S-2E, G-KITI.
An active member of the Shropshire Aero Club, Alex can often be found practicing for competitions up in the skies above Shropshire.
Often found upside down inside the back of an aircraft, Scott is an aircraft engineer who maintains and builds a variety of aircraft.
When not working on aircraft, Scott is either out on his mountain bike or travelling the country taking photos.