Smithsonian Inductions

The National Air & Space Museum honors some very special pilots.


||| |---|---| | | | In October, the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum opened its "Aerobatic Champions" exhibit, which features the newly restored Pitts S-1C Little Stinker and the Loudenslager Laser 200.

Little Stinker (shown), hand built by designer Curtis Pitts, was small and lightweight, with a short wingspan allowing for extreme agility. The S-1 made Betty Skelton famous-in it, she became the first woman to perform the inverted ribbon cut maneuver.

In the 1970s, Leo Loudenslager modified the airfoil, wing, forward fuselage, tail, instrument panel and propeller of his Stephens Akro, which he later renamed the Laser 200. Loudenslager was able to perform increasingly difficult maneuvers in the airplane, which was stressed to 9 Gs. For more information: