A rare Pitcairn PCA-2 autogiro, a revolutionary aircraft when introduced in 1930, has been donated to the EAA AirVenture Museum at Oshkosh by owner Steve Pitcairn.
The Pitcairn autogiro, named “Miss Champion,” will be part of the display in front of the Vintage Aircraft Association’s Red Barn, in 2006.Pitcairn’s father, Harold, built only 20 of the PCA-2 models under an agreement with Juan de la Cierva, the Spanish aviation pioneer who developed the autogiro, which uses a propeller to pull it through the air while unpowered rotor blades spin to provide lift, similarly to a helicopter.The Champion Spark Plug Company bought “Miss Champion” new in 1931, using it to lead that summer’s Ford National Air Tour. In 1932, it set an autogiro altitude record of 21,500 feet. It was retired to the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry shortly afterward, and then sold to a New Jersey museum after World War II. Steve Pitcairn acquired and restored it in the early 1980s.
Pitcairn aircraft already play a significant role in the AirVenture Museum’s collection. In the mid-1990s, the Pitcairn Hangar was built at the museum’s Pioneer Airport, where exhibits now include the lone existing Pitcairn PA-39 autogiro and a Pitcairn Mailwing biplane, used for air mail flights in the 1920s and ’30s.