Summer 2011 Issue
'Commodore' on Flying and Learning Aerobatics
from Bob Wilson
A lot of us often feel that we are just lucky to make a flight or two during the day and do it without crashing but there are those who are not satisfied with just toodling around in the sky and opt for more challenges which can take the form of building an airplane from scratch, building a twin or even a four engine models, or with others who see precisely controlling their model through a set of aerobatics.
There is nothing at all wrong with just toodling around and I have a couple of airplanes that I do just that with. Sort of a Sunday afternoon period of just relaxing in the sky. Electric gliders are especially good for that sort of flying when there are some thermals working.
To keep what adrenalin I still have at my age pumping, I enjoy aerobatics. Indeed, I would encourage every RC pilot to challenge himself by trying aerobatics. But, to do aerobatics, the pilot must have his/her airplane under control and by that, I mean knowing where to position your maneuver, judging the effects of wind, turbulence and still end up precisely where you wanted the airplane to be.
There is a good article in the September issue of Model Airplane News written by Dave Scott who quotes the past president of AMA, Don Lowe, who said "80% of pilots spend 70% of their time bringing an airplane back from where they hadn't intended it to be." As the story implies, most of us don't keep control of the airplane and let it roam around randomly and only try to control it every now and then. Or, when we do maneuvers, we allow the airplane to drift off course and are not ready for the next maneuver.
Things are different than when I first flew aerobatics back in the 1960's because at that time, we did a maneuver in front of the judges one at a time. We would then fly off into the distance and return to do another maneuver in front of the judges. The entire routine might take 10 or 12 minutes.
Now, of course, our maneuvers are sequential and we go directly from one maneuver into the next and of course this requires the utmost concentration to make the airplane be where you want it to be to do the next maneuver.
For example, a simple loop must end up at a point where you are ready to enter the next maneuver. Often a basic IMAC or FAI flight sequence might only last 4 to 5 minutes. All of this must allow for wind drift, aerodynamic forces working on the airplane and working to remember what the heck was that next maneuver supposed to be and you've got to think about the next maneuver before you finish the other one.
All of this requires precision flying and this is what it's all about. Putting the airplane exactly where you want it to be and the cure for this is to practice a lot and keep pushing the bubble.
Everyone one of us should practice aerobatics. It helps you fly better, helps your visual orientation of the airplane and where it is in the sky relative to you and the most important, the ground.
If you don't know what maneuvers to fly, you can look them up on the AMA web site.
Try it. You'll be a better pilot for it, no matter what sort of airplane you fly.
Bob 'Commodore' Wilson
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