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The Aerobatic Pitts 
Homebuilt Airplanes Made Easy
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Wing Alignment and Installation

Exhibit on building the Pitts Aerobatic Airplanes with 
close-up airplane pictures and hints on making this homebuilt kit plane
The Pitts fuselage is being readied for painting the stripes

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Here's the Pitts fuselage ready to be painted.  This is one of the greatest homebuilt airplanes
Photo by C. Jeff Dyrek

Plane Built By Roger Smith

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The Fuselage has been painted red.  Now it's time to put the decorations on it.  You can see the stripes have be masked out and applying the masking paper is next.  Notice the landing gear.   This is the old type of gear with a spring over the shock arrangement.  The Skybolt that Henry Smith (Rogers Dad) built uses a set of bungees located on the inside of the fuselage and no shocks.  The set of gear that Roger put on this plane about a year later was the spring type. 

The spring over shock design was the heaviest.  It also had more drag than the other types.  It is more complex and because of the wide airfoils covering the gear legs, it caused a reduction in roll rate as well as other aerodynamic problems.  This is the least desirable type of gear on the Pitts.  The only advantage of this type of gear is that it has shocks where the others do not.

The bungee type of gear (not shown) uses gear legs similar to the ones shown above but it has less drag because the shocks and springs are not in the slipstream.  The bungee system does not have any shocks and when you're in the front seat, the bungee cords are located right next to your feet.  This is kind of scary when you're taking off or landing, it looks like your feet are going to get torn off by the scissors action of the gear.  This kind of gear also requires slots to be cut in the fuselage, where the pivot mount and the upper arm that connects to the bungees,  protrudes into the fuselage by your feet.  This slot is mighty cold in the winter as it lets a lot of air into the front cockpit.   A big disadvantage is that you must periodically replace the bungee straps which are placed on the gear with a lot of tension and are difficult to reach.

Also not shown are the aluminum spring gear which are nothing more than a bar of aluminum bent into an upside down "U."      This is the least complex type of gear because it doesn't require any mechanism like hinges or a pivot point.  It just bolts onto the lower longerons of the fuselage just behind the firewall.   The aluminum is a specially tempered type which is rather expensive and cannot be welded on without destroying the temper.   The aluminum spring gear provides the least weight, drag and complexity making it the best overall type for ease of construction while inducing the least aerodynamic effect in aerobatic maneuvers.


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