Cassutt Special

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Cassutt Special
Role Formula 1 racing aircraft
Manufacturer Homebuilt
Designer Tom Cassutt
First flight 1954
Unit cost
approximately $2020 to build in 1971[1]
"Buster" flying formation with a Douglas DC-3
A Cassutt at the Reno Air Races
Cassutt IIIm

The Cassutt Special is a tiny single-seat racing aircraft designed in the United States in 1951 for Formula One air races and still available for homebuilding. Designed by ex-TWA captain Tom Cassutt, it is a mid-wing cantilever monoplane with fixed tailwheel undercarriage. The fuselage and tail are of fabric-covered steel tube construction, and the wings are built from plywood over wooden ribs.[2] An updated taper-wing design was first flown in 1971 on Jim Wilson's "Plum Crazy".[3]

Plans and parts are available from Creighton King of Salt Lake City, Utah, United States, for amateur construction. King also offers plans for the Stockbarger tapered wood wing.[4][5]

Design and development[edit]

The aircraft is built with a 4130 tubular steel spaceframe fuselage and a plywood-skinned wing with solid spruce spar and built-up ribs. The design lends itself well to modification, there being several different wing options of wood or composite construction.[5]

The standard engine used for competition is the 100 hp (75 kW) Continental O-200, while other, lower-powered engines can be used for recreational flying, including the 65 hp (48 kW) Continental A65 and the 60 hp (45 kW) Volkswagen air-cooled engine.[5]

Operational history[edit]

  • 1958 - Tom Cassutt flies his Cassutt to win the National Championship Midget Air Races at Ft. Wayne, Indiana.[6]


Cassutt I
Developed in 1951, First race at Dansville, New York in 1954.
Cassutt II
Casutt IIM
13.67 ft (4.2 m) wingspan
Cassutt III
15 ft (4.6 m) wingspan
Cassutt IIIM
17.00 ft (5.2 m) wingspan[7]

Specifications (Cassutt III racer)[edit]

General characteristics

  • Crew: One pilot
  • Length: 16 ft 0 in (4.88 m)
  • Wingspan: 15 ft 0 in (4.57 m)
  • Height: 4 ft 0 in (1.22 m)
  • Wing area: 68 ft2 (6.3 m2)
  • Empty weight: 500 lb (227 kg)
  • Gross weight: 850 lb (386 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Continental O-200, 100 hp (65 kW)


  • Maximum speed: 248 mph (400 km/h)
  • Range: 450 miles (725 km)
  • Rate of climb: 1,500 ft/min (7.6 m/s)

See also[edit]

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era


  1. ^ Leo J. Kohn (Winter 1971). "The true cost of building your own plane". Air Trails: 63. 
  2. ^ "What kind of aircraft would you build?". Air Progress Sport Aircraft: 49. Winter 1969. 
  3. ^ Air Progress: 12. November 1971.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ Bayerl, Robby; Martin Berkemeier; et al: World Directory of Leisure Aviation 2011-12, page 113. WDLA UK, Lancaster UK, 2011. ISSN 1368-485X
  5. ^ a b c Tacke, Willi; Marino Boric; et al: World Directory of Light Aviation 2015-16, page 119. Flying Pages Europe SARL, 2015. ISSN 1368-485X
  6. ^ Sport Aviation. November 1958.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. ^ Purdy, Don: AeroCrafter - Homebuilt Aircraft Sourcebook, Fifth Edition, page 213. BAI Communications, 15 July 1998. ISBN 0-9636409-4-1