Why Learn to Fly Aerobatics

Looking right from the cockpit, the pilot sees his attitude with reference to the horizon. The airplane is on a vertical up line. What to do next is an example of the fun and variety of flying aerobatics. The pilot could use full left rudder and do a hammerhead turn; if the pilot does nothing, the airplane will come to a stop and then begin a downward “tail slide”; forward stick (push) on the up line and a bunch of right rudder to a vertical down line is called a humpty bump; instead of a push, the pilot can pull out of the up line into a 45 degree inverted down line then execute a half roll – that is called a shark tooth. So much fun, and those are just the basics.
Looking right from the cockpit, the pilot sees his attitude with reference to the horizon. The airplane is on a vertical up line. What to do next is an example of the fun and variety of flying aerobatics. The pilot could use full left rudder and do a hammerhead turn; if the pilot does nothing, the airplane will come to a stop and then begin a downward “tail slide”; forward stick (push) on the up line and a bunch of right rudder to a vertical down line is called a humpty bump; instead of a push, the pilot can pull out of the up line into a 45 degree inverted down line then execute a half roll – that is called a shark tooth. So much fun, and those are just the basics.
Aerobatics is the most fun you can have in an airplane. Flying aerobatics develops stick and rudder skills and helps pilots avoid and react to emergency and unusual attitudes. Why would you not want to do that?

Flying aerobatics provides a reason to go to the airport. You need to practice, right? A typical aerobatic flight is 30 minutes or less. As you get better the flight is still short and you just practice harder. Unlike other flying endeavors that require extended time in the air, aerobatics is very satisfying with lots of fun in a short period of time, and you will not burn that much gas!

Flying aerobatics is not difficult, but it does require the skills of airmanship; that means using the control needed, when needed and as much as needed. Airmanship also requires using a sight picture to recognize attitude. You do not need an aerobatic airplane to learn airmanship. You can burn gas in a Cessna 172 and master steep turns, Chandelles, the Lazy-8, maximum rate turns, maneuvering in very slow flight, using full aileron defections and the Dutch Roll.

Comradery and safety are two driving forces in the sport of aerobatics. A strong foundation of experience, instruction and understanding is recommended.
• Begin by joining the IAC (International Aerobatic Club), a division of the EAA. The IAC will offer the resources to help you learn about the sport, safety and technical aspects of flying aerobatics. Join a local IAC chapter, meet the members, seek their advice and take advantage of their help. Visit the web site: www.iac.org for information about membership and resources.
• Volunteer at IAC completion events. You will meet the people who make it happen and you will be asked to join them, to volunteer. Pilot and non-pilot volunteers are required to hold a successful aerobatic completion. Judging aerobatics can be as much fun as flying aerobatics.
• Aerobatic aircraft are usually taildraggers, so get a tailwheel endorsement and as much tailwheel time as possible.

Do not teach yourself aerobatics. Take lessons to learn aerobatic maneuvers. Insure that your instructor is qualified:
• Instructor should be a CFI, a Master CFI-Aerobatic is better.
• Lessons should use a written syllabus that includes lots of ground instruction.
• Instruction should focus on the basics – lines, loops, turns and rolls. Spins are also part of basic aerobatics.
• Initial aerobatic instruction should include recovering unusual attitudes.

When you get serious about joining the ranks of aerobatic pilots, you will want an aerobatic airplane. There are many to choose from, and your budget will probably be a major factor in your purchase decision. I think the best keep secret in aviation is the Pitts S-1. Very few pilots will ever develop skills that require more performance than delivered by the Pitts S-1. The Pitts S-1 is affordable to every pilot and delivers significantly more performance than the popular and much more expensive Super Decathlon. The Pitts S-1 has a reputation as being squirrely, and difficult to land. Mr. Curtis Pitts, he designed the Pitts S-1, said there are no squirrely airplanes, only squirrely pilots. If you have airmanship skills and a tailwheel endorsement, you will marvel at the superb performance of a Pitts S-1duing a cross-wind landing.

Learn the basic maneuvers lines, turns, loops and rolls, from a good instructor. Get into the air, burn gas and learn what airmanship is all about. Like getting dressed in the morning, mix and match the basic maneuvers to perform a plethora of aerobatic figures; fly 5/8 of a loop to a 45 down and add a ½ roll – you performed the popular half-Cuban; fly a big lazy loop and add a snap roll on the top – that is aptly called an Avalanche; from level slow flight, do a ½ roll to inverted then pull really hard for a ½ loop down – that is the infamous split-S.

This is all good stuff, and the subject of this month’s featured video Learning to Fly Aerobatics. click here