Owner Stephen Pitcairn, son of the designer Harold Pitcairn, originally planned to fly Miss Champion from New Jersey to Oshkosh for the 2005 convention, then donate the historic rotorcraft. But a family situation occurred three weeks before the convention and he had to cancel.
Instead, he and his five-person crew will travel to Oshkosh on Tuesday, September 13, spend 2-3 days putting Miss Champion back together at EAA's Weeks Hangar, then make a short, ceremonial last flight to historic Pioneer Airport. (The PCA-2's flight characteristics were once described as "hopping off the ground like a giant grasshopper.")
The PCA-2 (NC 11609) will join two other aircraft Pitcairn donated to EAA: A beautifully restored Pitcairn Mailwing and the world's only remaining example of a PA-39 autogiro. They'll reside in the structure also donated by Pitcairn-the Pitcairn Aviation Hangar.
"We feel fortunate and grateful that Steve considers our facilities an appropriate final destination for this important aviation artifact," said EAA AirVenture Museum Director Adam Smith.
Miss Champion, the first commercially licensed autogiro in the U.S., was purchased new in 1931 by the Champion Spark Plug Co. She led that year's Ford National Air Tour, and in September 1932 set an altitude record of 21,500 feet. The aircraft "retired" to the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry, but was later sold to a private New Jersey museum. Steve Pitcairn acquired it in the early 1980s.
"Because of my association with the EAA, with the Pitcairn Hangar and the Mailwing, as well as another autogiro, I decided to donate it to EAA," he said. "It seemed to be the logical place for (Miss Champion) to go."
Harold Pitcairn built the first PCA-2 in 1930 through a licensing agreement with Spanish aviation pioneer Juan de la Cierva, inventor of the autogiro. PCA-2 stands for Pitcairn Cierva Autogiro, Model 2. A total of 20 were built.
Like an airplane, an autogiro's propeller provides thrust to pull the plane through the air. Meanwhile, a rotor spins to provide lift similar to a helicopter. Unlike a helicopter, though, the rotor blades are not powered; they simply auto-rotate as the aircraft moves through the air. The PCA-2 is a big aircraft, with a rotor diameter of 45 feet, and a 420-hp Wright R-975-E2 engine. Maximum weight is 3,000 pounds.