Today I did an hour of aerobatics. I did it through a small company called Flip side Aerobatics based at Renton Airport. (Will the instructor actually did my 152 checkout at Crest almost 2 years ago.)
Spectacular plane, it is a 1992 American Champian Super Decathon good for +6G/-5G. Very very nice condition.
Weight and balance is crucial in a plane like this so we had to make sure we had just the right amount of fuel. Will weighs around 180 and I'm about 200. We were planning on flying for 1 hour and could barely bring enough gas. 8 Gallons in each wing tank was all we could carry. The plane burns 10 Gal/hr and FAA says for VFR flying you must have enough fuel for your entire flight + 30 minutes. At 16 gallons we had just enough.
Fairly basic panel. Will said acro is hard on gyros so there is only the turn coordinator gyro. No attitude or heading. First time I've every flown a plane with stick and rudder. Normally I hold a yoke in my left hand and work the throttle with my right. Here your left hand controls the throttle and your right hand is on the stick. Everyone says that this method is true flying. After only an hour I have to agree. It just seems way more natural flying a plane with a stick. Pretty hard plane to get in and out of, especially being 6'2". You pretty much crawl in and put your upper body above the dash before getting your legs down and in and sitting down. The parachute on your back makes it tricky too. I sat in the front. Oh and that canister under the dash is the inverted fuel tank. When your upside down the wing tanks no longer gravity feed and this tank takes over. Only good for about 2 minutes of inverted flight. This was also my first time flying a plane with a constant speed prop. Seemed pretty easy though you use throttle to control manifold pressure and prop pitch to control RPM. Most of the time we flew around with 25 inches of manifold pressure and 2500 RPM.
Constant speed propeller
Renton Tower in the background
Taxiing to Runway 33 for takeoff.
Will pretty much let me taxi the plane and followed me through on the takeoff. Once on the centerline of the runway, it's full power and then you push forward to get the tail up. Once you get to speed you can begin easing it back and take off. My first impression was that it was very squirley compared to a 172. The rudder is very sensitve and very powerful. Once off the ground a ways it was pretty easy flying. I flew towards Lake Samammish and then we climbed up to almost 5000ft. The N.E. practice area is pretty much just north of Fall City. Once there we started doing some acro. Will would demonstrate each of the manuevers and then have me do them. We started out with 1 turn spins. He demonstrated one and then I did three. Very fun, you pretty much throttle to idle and keep the nose up till the plane stalls. Immediatley before it stalls, you pull the stick back hard all the way to the seat and then stomp the rudder all the way to one side. The plane almosts snaps right into a straight down spin. Recovery is fairly easiy and he taught me the P.A.R.E. method. Power idle, Aileron nuetralize, opposite Rudder, once the spin stops you add Elevator to get back level. Next he had me do a 3 turn spin to really see what a developed spin looks like and how they take longer to get out of. This plane really gets to twirling.
Next he demonstrated an aileron roll, and then I did 3. Really fun! The last thing he showed me was a loop. The loops were definately the funnest and I did 2 myself. Flying along you pitch down to pick up some speed (145mph) then pull it level for a second and then immediatly start pulling back. (About 4Gs) As soon as you see all sky you look out the left window so you can see the horizon. As you pass about 160 deg you look straight up through the roof window and wait for the horizon. At this point you're leveling off a little but soon are pulling again. As you come around you hit the 4Gs again and then level off. What a rush. I've always wanted to do that.
This picture was on the way back to Renton. I would have liked to get some pictures during the manuevers but you pretty much have to have the camera stowed and secure so it doesn't whack you in the face. I'm really glad I brought it, but honestly it was kind of a pain in the ass to deal with.
What a perfect day for flyng. I had a blast!!