This morning when I woke up , my first thought was about my flight today at 10:00am, I was so excited to do something new in flying. I had the amazing opportunity to take an aerobatic flight with Lennert Vonclem in WVFC’s, new to the club, Super Decathlon N78GC. I was a bit anxious, while not new to flying (McNuggets were a new menu item the year I got my certificate) this very different then what I do and quit simply it is aerobatic. Loops, Immelmans and Cuban Eights were all terms I had heard and watched at air shows but now I am going to do them? Well, it was an intro so I had no idea.
Lennert, a CFI for over 40 yrs, briefed me on what we would do today, basically an introduction to how the Super Decathlon flies starting with Chandelles, Lazy Eights and then do an aileron rolls. In fact, what is an aileron roll, I thought. Chandelles and Lazy Eights I have done, they are a commercial maneuvers. When I looked up aileron rolls later I saw that the definition of a roll is where the aircraft rolls 360 degrees around its longitudinal axis, maintaining a corkscrew -like flight path. Yep that is what we did, alright!
During the whole briefing I knew this would not be like anything I had done before, my nerves were settled down a bit at this point, we had a plan and the preflight was being explained to me. Once at the plane “things” were not where I was used them being, as just one example, the throttle was on the left side of the aircraft where the armrest might be on another plane. Worth mentioning is the added factor of having a parachute on and the whole seat restraint process reaffirmed to me this would be something outside of what I am used to.
Lennert said the most common mistake pilots make when transitioning to this type of flying is that pilots try to over analyze the maneuvers instead of being in the moment and learning the task. Hhhhmmm that I what I tell students, so I will have no problem, I thought, of course the flight would prove differently.
Enroute to the practice area, I got used to (sort of) flying the airplane. Lennert asked me to point the plane 45 degrees up! Not bank 45 degrees but pitch up, OK….so I did what I thought was 45 degrees and boy was I off, then 45 pitch down and again I was too shy about what it looked like. After some more maneuvers to see how the plane would we respond we did an aileron roll together OMG it was the funniest and was excited to try it myself. I was talked through first part of the maneuver -pitch up 30 degrees and positively and firmly move the stick to the left and away I went spiraling forward through the air. It was AWESOME! I can’t help putting all the exclamation points in this review it was really fun and different, better than a rollercoaster honestly that seems boring in comparison. Lennert asked if I wanted to see a loop, that is not something that is done on a first lesson but since I was going to write an article he showed it to me. When I was upside down on the top of the loop, Lennert was talking but I could only think Wahoooo !! I was in fact thinking about being upside down, and trying to listen to Lennert but really just thinking I am upside down in a plane and I wanted to do it, very cool.
As someone who loves all things aviation I try to go in different planes but after this flight I thought, do I? I learned on this flight that I don’t have to get my tail wheel endorsement or become an air show pilot but taking just one flight to see how it is, is something I should have done a long long time ago. I can’t help but to think what else should I try for the fun of it!