Archive for the Aerobatics Category

The Super Stinker

Posted in 2010, Aerobatics, Super Stinker X on August 12, 2010 by mars58

It Flies Like an Extra with Two Wings
An enormous thank you to Dan and Ann Salcedo. I can now uncross my fingers!! Dan’s SS is awesome! Not only watching that thing climb and pull like a Sukoi, it flies with the flick of the wrist or the precision of your thumb and forefinger. It is truly a beast. And it climbs like a scalded beast. When I pushed the throttle to the stop, the 300+ horse Angle Valve really does give you the sensation of being pulled back in your seat. It is a really cool feeling. I pushed the nose down and stood her up on her wheels and she started really pulling down the runway. Not having any idea what the stick pressures would be once unpinned from the tar, I let her fly off herself. For all the beast that she was getting to this point she lept gently into the air. Once off the runway I gently tightened my grip as if I were about to pull up on the rains of this stallion and she instantly did what I did. I squeezed my hand a little too tight and ever so slightly the stick moved slightly to the right and the right wing obliged and dipped ever so slightly. I responded with a quick centering of stick or leveling of the wings and gave her a pull for a positive rate of climb. She responded with ease and we were off.

I was at 4k feet in no time. Not wanting to pound Dan’s engine I ran her at 25 squared. “So what the heck am I going to do? OK lets roll it”, I thought to myself. Level flight, 160 mph, Thwap! I push the stick hard to the left. Whoosh, everything is a blurr and around it goes. I stop it with the normal pitts bobble or snap and the plane bobbles and the tail fish tails as I over rudder the catch. Wow, I think, just stop the stick and the plane responds, like a mono plane, like the Extra.

I am now smiling ear to ear; I dive to 180 MPH, pull vertical, throw the stick over to the left, Whoosh, around we go. I lost count after 4 verticale rolls. Dan says he see’s five. I am sure I saw at least that while it was climbing. Then it must have hung in the sky for 2 or 3 more. Amazed I couldn’t resist letting her back up a couple. Again, not wanting to beat up Dan’s plane, I cut the throttle after she floated down two turns. When I pulled the power I was expecting her to drop like a pendulum, fiercely, through the horizon like the B, but the nose just fell to the horizon and waited for me to do something. Taken by surprise, I now waited for her to start spinning like the B. But no, it just hung there waiting for me to tell it what to do. Later I was mentioning this to Dan and he said, “Yeah, she’ll just hang on.” So I pushed her over and cranked her into a double left roll on the down line and pulled level. Now I am really smiling ear to ear. Phawp, I backhand the stick to the right and slap the air. Whoosh the august NJ haze and afternoon buildups go spinning around with the ground, just like it did in the Extra. OMG, almost giggling I am thinking to myself, it’s true. She flies like a mono plane with two wings. It’s not all hype. It’s bad ass and I need to get mine done.

I did a few more rolls another Torque Roll, cmon I had to do that twice, a loop, rolling turn, some more basic acro and decided it was probably wise to let the neighbors below off the hook and get out of there. So I found the airport and headed back. As I entered the pattern I said the astronaut prayer, “Lord please don’t let me F@#k this up.” I pulled the power and set up a nice circling approach from the downwind. As the runway came up she settled in like the B. Eyes ahead, using my peripheral vision I watch the sides of the 70 foot runway and eased her onto the tar. “Wow, that was the nicest landing I have ever had flying a Pitts”, I thought as I rolled out and taxied in. No exaggeration. What a monster machine, a pleasure to fly, a pleasure to watch and an all out screamer. I really need to get mine done. Now fingers are crossed I can find the cash for my motor! Then we are off to the races!

Thanks again Ann and Dan!!!

2010 Jersey Skylands Aerobatic Championship

Posted in 2010, 98R, Aerobatics, Jersey Skylands Aerobatic Championships on June 15, 2010 by mars58

I am circling in the holding area about two miles north of the airport at 3500 feet, waiting for my call from the chief judge.

“Rob, chief judge, how do you read?”

“Loud and clear chief”, I reply.

“OK Rob, have a great flight”

“Rgr chief, thank you”.

I roll and push into a diving 90 degree turn setting up my line into the box. The sequence starts with a 2 of 2 roll from upright to upright, followed by a half snap to inverted and then a 3/4 down loop, to an inverted climbing 45 degree line. Cap it off inverted.

Figure 1

I dive to 220 miles an hour, pull strait and level then pull to a 45 degree up line to trade that energy and speed for altitude.  I don’t want to be too fast and put too much G on the airplane in the snap or as I pull into the earth for the down loop.   The 45 degree up line allows me to lose just enough speed and set myself up perfectly.

I level off after my 45 degree up line, everything is perfect. I do half roll to inverted, pause then do a half roll to upright again. Then I pull back abruptly and enough to get the wings to buffet, kick the rudder and snap the plane around a half turn to inverted.

Whap! The plane flips on its canopy. I kick opposite rudder and it stops, crisply, wings level, upside down. There I am hanging in my straps. I check my altitude and air speed. When pulling into the earth, you want a lot of one and little of the other.

Everything looks good and I pull gently to start the downward loop. As 98R starts accelerating down the back side of the loop, I am pushed into my seat at 4 times my weight. Through the bottom I am Pulling hard now, increasing in speed and G load.

Then into the 3rd quarter of the loop. Back up again, she slows down and everything gets light and I am again hanging from my straps as the load lightens I am back on my back setting a 45 degree inverted line. I cap off inverted, pause for a second then start figure two.

Figure 2 2010 Known

Figure two is a 1 1/2 inverted spin, followed by a potentially high G pull to 45 degree up line, a two of four point roll centered on the 45, then a pull to a vertical down line, then pull wings level.

After figure one, I am slow and hanging upside down. I pull the throttle back and slowly push the stick forward to the stops, wait for the buffet and then kick left rudder.

98R goes into an inverted spin. I wait for about 1 1/4 rotation, kick the opposite rudder and stop perfectly at 1 1/2 rotations. I set a nice down line, wait as I am building speed for the next up line, then pull.

I’m not completely sure what happened or why, but I guess I pulled back to almost vertical and blew the figure. Now momentarily lost in the box, I realize I am going the wrong way to start figure 3. Pissed off at myself, knowing I just screwed this run, instead of taking a break and re-starting in the right direction for figure three, I figured, screw it and just powered on knowing I could correct the direction with figure 4 since it is a “y” axis maneuver. Two zeros in the first 3 figures… Not a good run. It was a small conciliation, but my first figure was all 9s and even a 10 lol.

With the first run in the bag, it’s only up from here and the season is under way. They announce the unknown flight will be flown in the morning and hand out sequence as we are settling down for the end of day beers. Oh what they have in store for the unknown… 🙂 (to be con’t)

The Pilot Brief

Posted in 2010, 98R, Aerobatics, Jersey Skylands Aerobatic Championships on June 15, 2010 by mars58

A wonderfully thorough almost hour brief later, lol and the contest flying is about to start. Order of flight is Intermediate, Unlimited and then Advanced. And as usual I was randomly drawn to fly first in the Advanced category.

Usually they don’t make you volunteer or “work” the category before your flight. But to become a Judge, you have to have 10 Advanced or Unlimited assists in the last 18 months. Unfortunately, mine had expired. So for me to get my 10 assists and qualify to do my final review, to become a judge, I needed to assists the Unlimited category the rest of the weekend. With that said I really didn’t get much of a chance to get my act together. And that is not supposed to be an excuse lol, it’s not. Honestly, if I had, I don’t know if it would have helped, lol.

So I work as an assistant judge for the Unlimited category and get 5 assists Whoo hoo. They rearranged the Advanced flight order to make things easier and I was given the coveted last position. I guess after watching that practice, the other guys flying Advanced weren’t that worried hahahaha. My first break. OK this is going to be a good run.

Sometimes It Just Doesn’t Work – A Nice Lazy Start

Posted in 2010, 98R, Aerobatics with tags , , on June 14, 2010 by mars58

So I figured; after a nice long mornings sleep and arriving at the field just before noon, rather then the usual 8 in the morning for brief and practice, due to the morning rain, I would be ready to go. We’ll… have you ever had one of those days where you were a little off? And I don’t mean off in an unsafe way. Hell, we are flying aerobatics, this is a great day. But when it comes to flying precisely, a sequence of 10 to 15 figures, for people that are looking for five degrees of error in all three planes and deducting 1 point for every five degrees, not being “on” is usually not great for well scored competition runs. LOL. But hey it’s the first contest of the year and it is May. How much practice have we gotten in, right? So I am approaching this one as the warm up, but seriously none the less.

I saddle up for my practice flight of the “Known” sequence. Launch off for the last flight in the box before pilot brief and the start of the contest. So it’s kind of a weird spot but no big deal, I get to fly.

By the time I get to altitude things are feeling better and I get about 30 seconds to think while the guy before me is called, “times up, clear the box” then I am called in for my ten minutes. Ron and Steve are on the ground and are kind enough to take an interest and add some great critique.

“Ok guys, I’m on base about to dive into the box”

“Gotch you, insight”, they reply.

As I am diving in everything seems ok and I start the sequence. I get through the first half of it and miss a roll, zero the figure, it’s practice, I have 10 minutes, so I climb back up start over. Toward the end I miss something else, not a good practice run. I ask how much time is left?

“They aren’t ready down here so you have time.” Ron says.

“Huh”, I figure “wow, lucky me”, I am thinking.

“Let’s do it again” I radio down. Thinking to myself, “I’ll get it this time.”

As I dive in for my third attempt, I get through figure one and they call me off, times up…

Knowing I was pushing it anyway, I break off and land. As I am taxing up everyone is already waiting for the brief to start. So I get 98R shut down, double check mags and master, make sure she is parked then get my ass to the brief.

The 2010 Competition Season has Started

Posted in 2010, 98R, Aerobatics with tags , , , on May 19, 2010 by mars58

This past Thursday, 5/13/2010 we arrived at Greenwood Lake airport for the first annual Jersey Skylands Aerobatic Contest. The flight over was uneventful and beautiful. A CAVU day for sure. It was great to see everyone after the winter break and we were all excited to kick the season off in the North East. Pictures from the contest…

I was able to get in two practice sessions Thursday. I had practiced the known a few times a couple weeks prior and the flights seemed to go well and I had another practice scheduled for Friday before the contest started so I decided to work my Free sequence. The two runs Thursday went pretty well. There were definite things I needed to work on. The main thing was to relax in the box.

It sounds simple, but it is not something that is readily on your mind, especially when you are at 3500 feet in the air, pushing over to a 45 degree line, now rocketing toward the ground at 210 MPH, adrenalin pumps at max capacity, and heart racing. The excitement level is truly off the charts in a great way. One of the biggest aspects of this sport is the mental side. It is one thing to; put aside all the obvious thoughts of peril and lost friends throughout the years, to amass a skill set where you are capable of flying competitively, learn and train to control your aircraft at the razors edge etc. But it is a completely different discipline to control your body and mind, physiologically, under competition circumstances, especially diving into the box in front of the judges line. So by the end of Thursday I was reminded to take deep breaths diving into the box, between figures and to take my time so the sequence presents nicely and not rushed.

Thursday night started after a great day of flying and kibitzing. The weather Friday morning was sure to be rainy and un-flyable till at least noontime, so we all planned on a late morning start which meant a late night! Sleeping off a well earned hang over Friday morning we headed out to the airport around noon under clearing skies, planning on a 1:00 briefing. Unfortunately this meant no practice and flying the “Known” cold…

When we arrived at the airport, the scene was that of a busy ant hill. Everyone was scurrying around getting ready to kick off the contest. Organizers feverishly finishing the last details, competitors getting themselves and their mounts readied. Some were even getting in a practice flight. So I cornered the starter, the guy responsible for getting people off the ground and into the box in a safe and orderly manner, and asked if there was any time left for me to take a 10 min slot. Unfortunately there were 5 guys ahead of me and the pilot brief was planned to start in 30 mins… To make long story short, for various reasons they pushed the brief off about 45 mins which allowed me to get a practice in. Perfect, just what I needed… Or was it… to be con’t…

East Coast Aerobatic Championship – September 18-20, 2009 at Warrenton-Fauquier Airport, Known Video

Posted in 2009, 98R, Aerobatics with tags , , , , , , on March 12, 2010 by mars58

I finished the video of my 3rd Place Known sequence. You should be able to watch it at the link below. I am working on the Free sequence next, stay tuned! 🙂


East Coast Aerobatic Championship – September 18-20, 2009 at Warrenton-Fauquier Airport, Midland, Virginia (KHWY)

Posted in 2009, 98R, Aerobatics with tags , , , , on February 23, 2010 by mars58

Well the last contest, at least for me, in 2009 has come and gone. The East Coast Aerobatic Championships in Warrenton, VA, hosted by IAC Chapter 11, had great weather and was a great time. The flight down Friday Afternoon was great. I left Danbury around 1:00 and an hour later I met a buddy of mine, Aaron in Lancaster PA. Aaron flies a Christian Eagle. The two of us flew formation down to Warrenton and arrived about 3:00 PM. We quickly registered and got our airplanes tech’d so we could get in our ten minute practice for the day. Since my training with Sergey was at Warrenton the box was familure and felt good. My practice run went well and I felt ready to go. By the end of the day, everyone got to fly and it was time to take out coolers! There is nothing better than flying all day and kicking back at the end with some burgers, dogs, beers and good friends.

Warrenton was an important contest for the North East Regional series as well, especially in the Sportsman category where Aaron Hamm, Grant Russel, Joe Flood and Jason Flood were battling it out. Their category was very tight.

Personally I flew my best all season and finally scored well. Everything had finally slowed down again and the sequences were more manageable. The training with Sergey had really paid off. My first flight, the Known sequence, I scored 79% of points available and took third place. My second run, the Free Sequence, I scored 78% holding 3rd place. I finally have my free program worked out.

Unfortunately I fell victim for a second time to and inverted, outside rolling turn in the unknown and didn’t do so hot. Luckly almost everyone had issues with the sequence so I was able to hold on to 3rd place overall for the contest. Since my move to the Advanced category this year and struggling in the first three contest, I am very happy to have ended well and to be competitive again. A lot of this I owe to my weekend training camp with Sergei Boriak, thanks to Denny Thompson. So I am very excited for the 2010 season!

Edit: I was holding this post off until I was able to get he video together. Unfortunately I have hit some snags with that and will have to post it later. Hopefully before the 2010 season starts! 🙂

Training With Sergei Boriak Part II – First Flight

Posted in 2009, 98R, Aerobatics with tags , , , , , on January 22, 2010 by mars58

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.

Training With Sergei Boriak Part I – Enroute

Posted in 2009, 98R, Aerobatics with tags , , , on January 16, 2010 by mars58

So after three contests in Advanced and no real improvement it was time to get some professional training. My snap rolls have never scored well and my free program was far from working. While at the Green Mountain contest, Denny had told me that they had an open slot with Sergei Boriak down in Warrenton, VA. This is an excerpt from his bio:

Sergei was born in Kazakhstan in the former Soviet Union in May, 1955, but is now a U.S. citizen residing in Fairfax, VA. He is one of the most respected aerobatic flight coaches in the world, having trained the likes of Patty Wagstaff, Gene Soucy, Mike Goulian, Kirby Chambliss, and Matt Chapman. His accomplishments as a competition pilot rival any he has had as an instructor, having won the 1984 U.S.S.R. Aerobatic Championship. He was also the 1986 World Aerobatic Champion and the 1994 German National Champion. He moved to the U.S. in 1993, and was the coach of the U.S. Aerobatic Team from 1998-2003. He also competed on the Aerobatic Grand Prix circuit from 1996-2000. Sergei has competed and coached all over the world, and now brings his dynamic flying style and experience to the ACAP eXtreme Airshow Challenge series.

If you spend even a little time in this sport you learn who Sergei is and how good he is. I heard many of the stories and now it was time to take advantage of his expertise. I departed DXR (Danbury) for N81 (Hammonton) Friday afternoon with storm clouds all around the area. Danbury was clear but visibility was down to 3 miles over the new York area, although once through NY it was showing 6 miles over Jersey. So I launched and almost immediately I could see the front over new york. The GPS was showing heavy storm activity to the west of New York and limited activity over Long Island. So I decided to take the Long Island route which goes below the JFK class B airspace. You have to be 500 feet or below off of the coast of the island till you hit Hudson Harbor and then you can turn south and climb up to 1500 feet. So as I transitioned over the island I had a good 6 miles vis, but as I got lower and lower the visibility continued to get worse. At 400 feet I had 3 mile visibility and while the legal limit, it was still a little disconcerting at 160 MPH. At no point was I in danger because I was over the water, no mountains in the way… 🙂 and if I had to, I could have always climbed back to the 6 mile vis above me. I would have busted JFKs air space but I’d be alive to get punished. Luckily I had a good 3 miles and as I worked South the weather got back to 6 miles. I landed at Hammonton and about 15 mins later the next front was over the top and closed the airport. While I got there safely, it is not the kind of flying I want to repeat in a Pitts.
Denny is based at Hammonton, so he came out and helped me tuck the airplane away and we agreed we’d meet up early that next morning to head to Warrenton. I stayed the night with my Aunt who lives down in Mays Landing and flying into Hammonton is always a great excuse to go see her.

The next day the front had completely cleared and it was CAVU to say the least. We blasted out of N81 about 8:30. Denny had me fly lead and he was there off my left wing. The flight crosses the Delaware Bay, then across the across the Northern part of the Chesapeake Bay and South East around the DC ADIZ . We navigated our way around the restricted areas and landed in Warrenton about 10:00ish, exhilarated after a great flight.

Bill Williams Joy of Flight Award

Posted in 2009, 98R, Aerobatics with tags , , , , , , on December 23, 2009 by mars58

One of my favorite contests I have ever been to was Chapter 38’s Maytown 2007. Mostly because of all the Maytown lore, all of it I can attest is true! This was my third year participating in IAC competition, really my second because 06 was a washout, weather wise. So, chapter 38 holds a soft spot in my heart, mostly because it is the first time I placed in the top 3 but more accurately due to the VFW!! That place was great! When you order 9 shots, mostly top shelf and give the girl $20 then get $10 back!! God Bless the VFW!!! 🙂 Unfortunately Maytown’s airport no longer provides gas to fuel the airplanes so that killed any further contest. Luckly tho, the Wildwood venue opened up and provided Chapter 38 a place to hold another contest.

So I am sitting at the Wildwood Acroblast, Saturday night banquet, and I’m reflecting on the struggle I had completing the last two sequences off in my own world while Craig Wiseman, the MC from chapter 38, is handing out the awards. Craig starts talking about a gentleman from their chapter who was the inspiration behind the Bill Williams Joy of Flight award. As I sit there listening to Craig describe Bill; a great pilot, a lot of fun, always smiling, happy, funny, practical joker, ball breaker, true aviation and aerobatic enthusiast, etc. and as Craig talks about the impact Bill had on their chapter and what a great individual he was, I start thinking to myself, wow what a cool guy, my kind of people, I hope I can someday have the kind of impact on the people, friends and sport like Bill had…

Craig says, “and this years award goes to, none other than, Rob Marsicano…” I have to tell you, I was blown away. This is one of the greatest awards I have been given in my life and one I am honored to have received.

Bill Willson Joy of Flight Award

Bill Willson Joy of Flight Award

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