Pitts Sky Car

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Sky Car
Role Ornithopter
National origin United States
Manufacturer John W Pitts
Designer John W Pitts
First flight attempted in 1928
Number built 1

The Pitts Sky Car was an unsuccessful aircraft designed for vertical take off, by inventor John W Pitts of Detroit, Michigan.

Pitts filed a US Patent in 1924 for a propeller "which will cause an immediate vertical lift of any aerial car to which the propeller is attached". This consisted of a "mushroom shaped" rotor of 60 blades, each hinged at the axis. A motor would rotate and reciprocate the propeller, causing the blades to close on the down stroke and open on the upstroke, which it was hoped would induce lift. The patent was granted in October 1926.[1]

In collaboration with W P Kindree, Pitts constructed a 2,700 lb (1,200 kg) prototype with a 90 hp (67 kW) Curtiss OX-5 engine. A newsreel of 1928 shows the Sky Car attempting to fly; however rather than take off, it merely jumps up and down.[2][3]

Today, footage of the ill-fated Sky Car is often compiled with footage of the Gerhardt Cycleplane, various ornithopters, cyclogyros and other contraptions as examples of early failed flight attempts, though in reality these took place several decades after the Wright Brothers flights.


  1. ^ United States Patent US1602778: Propeller for Flying Machines, FreePatentsOnline.com
  2. ^ AIRCRAFT: Pa to Pi, Aerofiles.com
  3. ^ Funny inventions – Sky Car, Vimeo

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