Archive for Aerobatic Training

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.

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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.

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