Training With Sergei Boriak Part II – First Flight

After arriving at Warrenton we unpacked our planes, locked everything down inside the plane and switched from travel mode to aerobatic mode. I met Sergei and we talk a little about what I was doing and what I wanted to work on. I explained to him that I had just moved to the Advanced category and I wasn’t flying as well as I should be. He said ok, go up and fly the Advanced Known routine and we will work from there.

Sergei sits on the ramp and watches us fly and he critiques us through our mistakes over the radio. All the while he would also be talking into a small voice recorder that he would give us to listen to, review and make notes after the flight. This was great because everything up there is happening so quickly and so many things are going on that after 20 to 30 min flights it was hard to remember all the little tricks and tips Sergei was telling you throughout.

Denny went up first and I watched as Sergei coached him through inverted spins and other aspects of his flight. And after about 30 mins, Denny was done with that flight and it was my turn. I walked out to my airplane and recognized the normal butterflies that I get before every flight which is being judged or critiqued. Luckly they always scatter as soon as the engine cranks up, at that point the prop is spinning and it is all business.

I taxied out to the runway and took off for the box. As soon as I got up to altitude I switched over to the box frequency and waited for Sergei to call. “Ok Rob, can you hear me?” “Loud and clear Sergei”, I replied. “Ok, go ahead and fly the Advanced Known.”

So I started my dive into the box, 3 sharp wing wags to get the judges attention and announce my impending start to the sequence. See the video of the flight. Unfortunately it starts from figure two, but that is ok because things don’t start to fall apart until figure 3 and forward. Most of my poor scores were from my poor snap technique and my push to the hammer head as you can see in the video. When I push to the vertical up line of the Hammer head, from the ground, you should see the top of the airplane, not the side. Unfortunately every time I push I end up anywhere between 20 and 90 degrees off. As you can see in the video I am 90 degrees off. The uncanny thing about training with Sergei is that even though he is on the ground he can tell you what you are doing wrong in the airplane. After I botched the push to the Hammer, I aborted the sequence and asked, “why have I rolled 90 degrees?” Sergei’s reply, “Stop looking at wing, when you push. Look over nose of airplane and don’t look at wing until last minute when you set the vertical line. When you look at wing too early you are putting in slight aileron and that is rolling you off heading.” How did he know where I was looking, I thought. Sure enough we practiced some pushes to the hammer and I did what he told me and all my pushes were nice and strait.

The next thing we worked on was Snap Rolls. The important thing is to pull back on the stick abruptly and until the wing buffets. At that point kick the rudder and around she goes. This is the video from my practice snaps.

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