Flight Training - May 2021 - 30

s, rolls, and
p
o
o
L
spi
ns
may seem like

thrill-seeking diversions
compared to more pragmatic
flying tasks such as instrument
approaches and crosswind
takeoffs and landings.
But aerobatic flight training builds and
refines skills that can benefit every other
aspect of a pilot's repertoire. And those
heightened sensibilities can expand performance, add confidence, and reduce anxiety
across the full flying spectrum.
" Our mission is to help you become a
safer, more skilled, more confident pilot and
ultimately help you get more enjoyment out
of flying, " says Patty Wagstaff, an aerobatic
competitor and airshow performer who
operates an aerobatic flight school in St.
Augustine, Florida. " That's what our courses
are all about. "
The first difference in aerobatic flight
training is that it encourages-demands,
really-students to use sharp and decisive
control inputs. Smooth, subtle, fingertip control manipulation as learned in private pilot
training is out. It's replaced by full-deflection,
stop-to-stop control inputs for maximum
aircraft performance.
An aileron roll in a typical aerobatic
trainer requires every last inch of stick travel.
Entering a spin and allowing it to develop
requires pressing a rudder pedal to the floor
and keeping it there as well as every bit of
aft stick. Aerobatic pilots must fully commit
to maneuvers-especially in trainers cursed
with relatively slow roll rates and marginal
engine power. (Yes, I'm talking about you,
Cessna Aerobat, American Champion Citabria, and Stearman PT-17.) Similarly, typical
throttle positions are either wide open or idle
during aerobatic maneuvers.
The result of all this aggressive handling
is a strenuous, physical flight experience.
Private pilots are accustomed to the feeling of
two Gs, or twice the normal force of gravity,
that presses them into their seats during
steep turns with 60 degrees of bank. Aerobatic maneuvers such as loops, Immelmanns,
and half-Cubans typically subject students
to about four Gs. And negative Gs that push
the occupants away from their seats (such as
during sustained inverted flight) are entirely
new to most aerobatic students. These novel
sensations can be fatiguing, disorienting, and
exhilarating, all at once.
The payoff for aerobatic students is the
knowledge that they can control their airplanes with precision throughout 360 degrees
of pitch and roll and their entire speed range.
The willingness to use full control deflection

30  FLIGHT TRAINING MAY 2021

unlocks any aircraft's full performance envelope.
" Unusual " attitudes are no longer " unknown. " All the
intimidating mystery about them disappears.
HOW IT BEGINS

Aerobatic flight training brings some new accessories: a parachute and a quick-release aircraft door or
bubble canopy that can be jettisoned in flight.
Most aerobatic trainers are equipped with control
sticks-not yokes-so that pilots can more quickly and
easily apply full deflection. Aerobatic students who
have only flown with yokes may wonder whether
they'll be able to adapt to a control stick, but the
transition is usually immediate. A floor-mounted
stick quickly becomes second nature even to pilots
new to them.
The first aerobatic maneuver that students
learn is usually an aileron roll, and it's meant to be
a confidence booster. Students must use full aileron
deflection and sustain it, and they see the horizon go
from level, through inverted, and back to level again.
The maneuver begins at cruise speed. The pilot raises
the nose about 20 degrees, unloads the wings by
momentarily letting the airplane draw a straight line,
and then decisively adds full aileron (and coordinated
rudder) and holding it until the wings are level again.
The nose typically drops well below the horizon
during an " ailerons only " roll, and that's just fine.
The point of the exercise is to introduce full control
deflection and flying the airplane around the longitudinal axis. Roll variations (such as slow rolls and
point rolls) can come later.
Students should practice rolling both left and
right during this introductory phase.

Common student errors:

* Using less than full aileron deflection.
* Becoming disoriented during the inverted phase of
the roll and neutralizing the controls.
* Rolling out too early.
HARD WORK

Spins are the most valuable and least enjoyable part
of aerobatic training.
They're disorienting. No two spins ever feel
exactly alike. And the airplane seems to get a mind of
its own as unseen forces cause the spin to accelerate.
Students are typically asked to count each half-turn
out loud during the spin ( " half, one, half, two, " and so
on). Instructors don't really need a student to tell them
the number of turns. They know. But having students
count lets instructors know whether they are mentally
keeping up with the airplane's rapidly changing orientation, or if they're lost and it's a complete blur.
Spin recoveries are almost immediate once the
student pulls the throttle to idle and applies opposite rudder and forward stick-but even a delay of a
second or two from a fully developed spin can seem
interminable. That's enough time for students to
wonder whether they've done something wrong, and
to doubt themselves.



Flight Training - May 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Flight Training - May 2021

Contents
Flight Training - May 2021 - Intro
Flight Training - May 2021 - Cover1
Flight Training - May 2021 - Cover2
Flight Training - May 2021 - Contents
Flight Training - May 2021 - 2
Flight Training - May 2021 - 3
Flight Training - May 2021 - 4
Flight Training - May 2021 - 5
Flight Training - May 2021 - 6
Flight Training - May 2021 - 7
Flight Training - May 2021 - 8
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Flight Training - May 2021 - Cover3
Flight Training - May 2021 - Cover4
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