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Although I didn't think I would be, I am now! After putting off learning to fly until after the big 4-0, I've jumped in with both feet and haven't looked back since. However, somewhere along the way I've veered off into aerobatics (to my great surprise!). Here's a time line of how this particular turn of events unfolded:
Got my PP-ASEL in May 1994.
Bought my first airplane (1976 Piper Archer II) in June 1994. Had a lot of fun flying all over the desert Southwest.
Got my IA rating in March 1995. Had a lot of fun doing simulated instrument approaches in our otherwise VFR paradise.
Got my tailwheel endorsement in June 1995 while the Archer was
down for painting and found out what those rudder pedal things are for. Also
found out what a REAL slip is! Had a lot of fun flying low and slow in a Piper
Super Cub with the windows open.
hmmm ... getting a bit off track here!
Started aerobatic training in September 1995 for reasons of pilot
proficiency only. Finished in January 1996 with solo privileges in an open
cockpit Great Lakes biplane and found out to my great surprise that I
like flying upside down!
... Now we're in serious trouble!
Sold the Archer and bought a very nice 1970 Beechcraft V-35B
Bonanza with an IFR panel to die for in February 1996. Had a lot of fun getting
my complex endorsement and flying a lot more quickly around the desert Southwest
in a lot more comfort.
ahhh ... back on track!
Started seriously practicing for aerobatic competition in the
Spring of 1996 in the Great Lakes, joined the local aerobatic club, and competed in my first
contest in December 1996. Did OK, had a lot of fun.
and right back off track again!
Flew 2 more contests in February and April 1997. Improved my
scores, but still looking for the "wood" (finishing in the top 3). Tried to put
together an Intermediate Category Freestyle sequence. Vertical rolls are no fun
in a Great Lakes. Maybe I'd do better in a higher performance airplane?
... Now we're considerably beyond what could be considered the deep end!
Bought 20% share in a 1992 Pitts Special S-2B N161JH in April 1997. Serious aerobatic airplane, serious aerobatic fun, serious pucker factor on landing! Oh well, getting used to the landings and sensitive controls. Vertical rolls now are no problem ... well they still are but now it's my problem :^)
Married Jan Markham in November 1997, who I met at my 1st contest back in December 1996. She's also a pilot and interested in aerobatics ... this aerobatics stuff can have some interesting side effects!
Wood at last! The airplane shouldn't make the difference, but the combination of the Pitts and critiquing from the ground did the trick ... 1st Place Sportsman at the December 1997 Arizona State Aerobatic Championships. ... and the Aviat Pitts Trophy for the High Scoring Pitts Pilot! On to the Intermediate Category (and the dreaded avalanche)!
Passed the negative-G virus on to my wife, Jan. She now plans to fly the Basic Category (loop, spin, and slow roll) in the Bill Briski Akrofest in late February 1998 using 1JH with me as safety pilot in the back seat. She received excellent training for her PP certificate, including spins (Thanks, Eric!), so we think that with a little coaching from the back seat (before the contest ONLY!) and critiquing from the ground she'll be competitive!
Jan flew her first Basic competition at the February 1998 Bill Briski Akrofest, placed third, but wasn't very happy with her performance (first contest nerves!). Without much extra practice, she flew much better at the Copperstate Regional Aerobatic Championships and placed first. On the other hand, I flew the contest in the Contest Director Category (on the ground!) ... lots of fun, but all in all I think I prefer to fly Intermediate in the air instead!
Flew intermediate finally at Victorville CA in May 1998 ... zeroed a maneuver on the Known(!). Did somewhat better at Tequila Cup in Tucson and at the Arizona State Championships (improved the scores and at least got a Patch with Stars) later in the year. After watching and flying the known for a year, I've concluded that the Avalanche (loop with an inside snap roll on top) is truly ugly as flown by your average intermediate pilot! (myself definitely included) Meanwhile, Jan is working on moving up to Sportsman.
Lost the use of 1JH due to an off-runway excursion during a training flight (no, not me!) in September 1998. It was sent back to Aviat in Afton WY for lower wing replacement, recover, repaint, avionics upgrades, and a 0 time engine. Meanwhile flew a very nice B model that was taken by in Chandler Air Service as a trade for a "C" model in the lasts two contests of the year. When that was sold, was forced to fly a "C" model for a few months ... it's true that it really does fly better and land easier ... oh no. here we go again!
March 1999: Flew 1JH back from the factory in Afton, WY (5.2 hours through snow covered mountains and over some of the most desolate landscapes you can imagine). It's beautiful after the factory got done with it! X-countries in the Pitts aren't fun ... something about the unintentional aerobatics while trying to read or fold a map! Did fly over the Grand Canyon and saw rapids of the Colorado through the lexan floor panels. Thought of rolling inverted for a really good view about 15 miles after the crossing ... oh, well! Now to rediscover the secrets of the "B" versus the "C".
August 1999: Can't leave good enough alone ... the partnership upgraded our pristine "B" for an identically painted brand new S-2C. Once you're used to rolling at 360 deg/sec, a doggy 240 deg/sec seems slow! ... and Jan likes flying it a lot better as well. It's true, you can't go back home again!
July 2003: Still flying after a slow period for an MBA degree while working ...
What's next? ... only time will tell!
Well, that's our story. Beware, the negative-G virus is out there waiting for you! So, if you'd like to talk about either catching or avoiding it ... contact me!
If you'd like more information on local aerobatics, you could also
take a look at this article
Aerobatic Mount ex de Jour, S-2B N161JH
... now replaced by S-2C N8ZQ (same paint job, but more PERFORMANCE!)
E-mail your comments to: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.
See How It Flies -- a very good book by John Denker on aerodynamics ONLINE!
FAA Knowledge Test ONLINE (Private Pilot)
Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA)
Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA)
International Aerobatic Club (IAC)
Chapter 69 IAC, Phoenix AZ
AvWeb (Online Web Magazine)
General Aviation Servers www.landings.com ... (if you can't find it here, it's REALLY hard to find!)