Developed in the late 1970s, the Christen Eagle II set a new mark of excellence for home built kit aircraft. The Eagle II, based on the famous Pitts Special, was designed by Frank Christensen as an unlimited class aerobatic aircraft that could be used for competition, advanced aerobatic training and sport cross-country flying. Since its introduction, more than a thousand Eagle IIs have delighted their owners and found homes with both professional and amateur pilots alike.
Frank Christensen was a self-made millionaire even before he entered the aviation industry. Prior to his aviation career, Christensen built inverted oil systems for Curtiss Pitts. This experience led him to begin thinking about developing a home built aerobatic aircraft that anyone could safely build and fly, regardless of their background in aircraft construction or engineering. After his bid to buy the Pitts aircraft line failed, Christensen set his plans to open his own aircraft company in motion. The Eagle II debuted at the 1977 Oshkosh Fly-In and was immediately popular with both professional and amateur aerobatic pilots. After test flying the Eagle II, World Champion Aerobatic Pilot Bob Herendeen stated; “All in all, I like the very light feel of the controls of the Eagle II. Its responsiveness and roll rate give one the feeling of flying in a Pitts S-1S, but with stability more like that of the Pitts S-2A. The clean, comfortable cockpit area and control stick position are ideal. I don't see how anyone would not like this airplane.”
The first Eagle II kits cost roughly $40,000 (minus a paint job). By 1982, Christensen had sold nearly 500 kits. The Eagle II set a new standard for home built kit aircraft. Unlike most home built aircraft, which start with only a set of plans and perhaps some building materials, the Eagle II kit contains nearly 30 individually packaged “sub-kits” that are assembled in numerical order (without the need for any welding). Even the Eagle II's flight manuals and assembly directions come computer “published” in three-ring binders. The Eagle II's simplicity and Christensen's remarkable "total concept" design have given the Eagle II kit a remarkable completion rate of nearly 90 percent.
Perhaps the greatest tribute to Frank Christensen's design is that the famed Eagles Aerobatic Team flew the Christen Eagle I (a modified single-seat Eagle II) for nearly two decades. The Eagles, made up of the Tom Poberezny, Gene Soucy and the late Charlie Hillard switched from using Pitts Specials to the Eagle I in 1979 after being invited to fly the Eagle at the Christen factory. The Eagles never signed a contract to fly Christensen's plane. They continued to fly the aircraft solely because of its aerobatic performance. The Cavanaugh Flight Museum's Christen Eagle II was assembled by Jim Cavanaugh, Sr. and Joe Cragin. The construction of this Eagle II kit took nearly eight years to complete.
|ENGINE||Lycoming AEIO-360-A 1 D 200 h.p.|
|WING SPAN||19 feet,11 inches|
|LENGTH||18 feet, 6 inches|
|HEIGHT||6 feet, 6 inches|
|WEIGHT (EMPTY)||1,050 pounds|
|MANUFACTURED BY||Aviat Aviation|
|TOTAL BUILT||Approximately 1,000|
|MUSEUM'S AIRCRAFT BUILT||1997|
|ON DISPLAY AT||Cavanaugh Flight Museum, Addison Airport (KADS), Dallas, Texas|
|MAXIMUM SPEED||184 m.p.h.|
|SERVICE CEILING||25,000 feet|