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One Design Designer Awarded by IAC
Dan Rihn Honored with Curtis Pitts Trophy
By Ti Windisch, EAA Staff Writer
July 26, 2018 - Dan Rihn, EAA Lifetime 16462, was awarded the International Aerobatic Club’s Curtis Pitts Trophy on Wednesday night during EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2018 for his work in designing the DR-107 One Design, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this week.
IAC Executive Director Lorrie Penner said the Curtis Pitts Trophy is given to someone who’s had a big impact on IAC without necessarily flying aerobatics themselves, although Dan used to compete in aerobatic competition.
“It’s a volunteer non-flying award that we do annually named, of course, after Curtis Pitts,” Lorrie said. “The idea for the award is somebody who has designed or created something within the aviation community that directly affects and impacts aerobatics. Of course the One Design has a big impact.”
Dan credits his experience building a Pitts S1-S with giving him the knowledge to end up designing the DR-107, and said his tie with the prolific designer makes the award particularly special.
“I was extremely happy to receive the award last night,” Dan said. “This really meant a lot to me because Pitts aircraft and Curtis Pitts himself were such a huge part of my whole life. I learned so much from him in the drawings, not in a personal relationship, but I learned very much about the engineering and design from building a Pitts Special.”
The two aircraft designers got a chance to meet in Oshkosh in the mid-1990s, and Lorrie said a photo of the two of them was a part of the award presentation.
“We showed a picture of Dan with Curtis Pitts because they had actually spoken quite a bit about the design, and Curtis was impressed with Dan’s work on it,” Lorrie said. “It was very meaningful and special to Dan that he won the award.”
According to Dan, Curtis was a kind, funny man who was indeed impressed with the One Design in its aerobatic debut in Oshkosh.
“I met him here in Oshkosh for the first time in ’94 and we had a real good time, we hit it right off,” Dan said. “I got a picture of he and I together and I took the picture and sent it to him and he signed it and everything. It was really cool, he wrote me a nice letter. He was a very personable, very warm man to me and I always appreciated that.”
At least seven DR-107 One Designs are present in Oshkosh to celebrate the design’s 25th anniversary. A group of builders and pilots of the DR-107 gathered as part of the Curtis Pitts Trophy ceremony, including a pair of fans coming all of the way from Australia. Dan said the One Design’s worldwide popularity, including one that was built in Iceland, was a shock to him.
“I thought this would be popular in U.S and that'd be kind of the extent of it,” Dan said. “I am totally flabbergasted as to the popularity of the aircraft in England and Australia especially. But really all over the world.”