Steve Wittman: Biographical Information

Steve Wittman in his ButtercupSteve Wittman in the cockpit of his Buttercup in 1994 (photo by Dave Weiman)

Steve Wittman was born in Byron, Wisconsin in 1904. He learned to fly in1924. His first air race was in 1926 in Milwaukee, in which he placed 2nd.The 1930's were known as the 'Golden Age' of air racing, and Steve was amajor contender in air races all over the country. During this era, raceplanedesigners were developing aircraft that in many cases outclassed the bestmilitary aircraft of the period. Steve designed and built several raceplanes,most notably his 'Chief Oshkosh' and 'Bonzo'.

In 1931, Steve became theoperator of the Oshkosh, Wisconsin airport.During World War 2, Steve operated a flight school at the Oshkosh airport,training pilots for the military. Steve continued to operate the airportuntil his retirement in 1969. After his retirement, the airport was renamedWittman Regional Airport.

Steve continued his air racing activities after World War 2 as a top competitor in the Goodyear/Formula One air racing class. He was the principal advocate for a new air racing class, Formula V, which was started in the 1970's. Steve also played a significant role in the formationof the Experimental Aircraft Association, and designed the Tailwind, oneof the most popular homebuilt aircraft designs. He continued his involvementas an air racing competitor until 1989, when at age 85 he flew in his lastpylon air race, a Formula V air race at Daytona Beach, Florida, placing third.

Steve married Dorthy Rady in 1941. He taught her to fly and she accompaniedhim to most of the postwar races. Dorthy passed away in 1991 and Steve remarriedin 1992 to Paula Muir. Steve also taught Paula to fly, and she in turn rejuvenatedhis life. On April 27th., 1995, Steve and Paula took off for a routine cross-countryflight from their winter home in Ocala, Florida to their summer home inOshkosh, Wisconsin. Their plane crashed in northern Alabama, killing bothSteve and Paula.

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