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! 🙂

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