Article: The Red Pitt Special

  • PittsSpecial-WCAMCopyright
    January, 1974, Canadian Aviation
    by Neil MacDougall

    Brewery sponsors civilian aerobatic team

    Canada now has North America’s only full-time civilian aerobatic team. Sponsored by Carling O’Keefe Breweries Ltd., the Red Cap Aerobatic Team will be available free to organizers of air shows, country and fall fairs, agricultural competitions and community shows, starting in the spring of 1974.

    Carling O’Keefe is controlled by Rothmans, who set up the world’s first full-time civilian aerobatic team. In four years, the British-based Rothmans Aerobatic Team achieved an international reputation with its spectacular displays.

    Canada’s team will be equipped with five 200 hp Pitts S-2A Specials, the two-seat version of the famous homebuilt. Both the two-seat and the single-seat Pitts are now in production at the former Callair plant at Afton, Wyoming. Production rate of each type is two per month.

    Carling O’Keefe advertised around the world for pilots, and attracted 40 candidates from 20 countries. Only one of the finalists was a Canadian. “It was a question of professionalism,” said interviewer Manx Kelly.

    Team Leader is Bill Loverseed, 41. He has over 4,500 hours in 35 aircraft types and is a former leader of the Red Arrows, the RAF’s outstanding aerobatic team. Debbie Gary, 26, is a 600-hour pilot from the U.S., who has flown with Jim Holland Air Shows. Mike O’Hanlon, 29, is from North Battleford, Saskatchewan and Chilliwack, B.C. A 3,800-hour pilot, he spent 10 years in the RCAF as a jet instructor and Argus pilot. Ladislav Bezák, 41, was World Aerobatic Champion in 1960. In 1971 he fled from Czechoslovakia in a light airplane with his wife and family. He was, at that time, 6,000 hours on 50 types.

    Nick Daniel is team manager and commentator, a job he had in the U.K. He will fly the Red Cap Team’s spare aircraft to and from shows.

    The team will be based at Buttonville airport, near Toronto. For this winter at least, it will work up at Pompano Beach, Florida. Each pilot is expected to do about 200 hours’ practice flying before the show season. The two-seat Pitts will allow team members to fly with and criticize each other. The display routine is not yet completed, but it will likely be 15 to 17 minutes long and include the Prince of Wales’ Feathers, outside loop, fountain break, double mirror and Swiss roll. During these maneuvers, the leader pulls from +5 to -3 Gs, while the team members pull from +6 to -3.5 Gs.

    The annual budget for the team was not revealed, but each aircraft costs $26,000 and the pilots are believed to earn more than $12,000 per year. The Canadian International Air Show, Toronto, has already booked the team for its 1974 show.

    This article originally appeared in the January, 1974 edition of Canadian Aviation magazine. The photo, from the archives, is a Pitts Special painted in a similar scheme to the Red Cap aircraft but was painted for Esso promotions.

Leave a Reply

* Name, Email, and Comment are Required