Monday, July 27, 2009

So, you want to be an aerobatic pilot....,

Over the next few weeks I'll be adding information relevant to aerobatics pilots, judges, and others interested in the sport. The best place to start is usually at the beginning, so off we go!

The Beginning

Like many other beginners, you probably aren’t quite sure how to go about getting involved in competition aerobatics. But, like most sports, the first thing to do is join your local club ( ) where you will find many like-minded people who can point you in the right direction.

The first step, if you already have a pilot licence, is to get an aerobatic endorsement. Flying schools that can do this are listed on the contacts page of our website. The syllabus and aircraft type may vary between schools, but as a minimum you will need to be able to fly the basic aerobatic manoeuvres: barrel roll, loop, slow roll, roll of the top and stall turn. You will also need a spinning endorsement, which most schools should include in their aerobatic syllabus.

Some Furphy’s you may hear:

1. ‘You need a parachute to fly aerobatics.’ This furphy arose because in the USA the International Aerobatic Club requires a parachute to be worn in their competitions (IAC also require a secondary lap belt or restraint, which is the source of the double harnesses now commonplace), and the US FAA requires parachutes when doing aerobatics dual. In Australia it is not mandatory to wear a parachute while flying aerobatics. However, some aircraft flight manuals specify that a parachute is mandatory in the aircraft (eg. Extra), so check for your aircraft type. If you want to wear one, that’s fine, but it is a personal choice.

2. ‘You need a Low Level Waiver/Permission to compete.’ No, in the lower grades (up to Sportsman) you can come along and fly above 3000ft AGL without a problem. Once involved in the sport you can then decide if you wish to progress to lower altitudes and higher grades. CASA Delegates able to issue low level aerobatic permissions are listed on our website also.

3. ‘It costs a lot to join the AAC and there aren’t many competitions.’ This was true once, but now you can elect to join only your local State Club and only pay their membership fee ($38 p.a. in NSW). This will allow you to fly in all NSW Club Training Days, Club Competitions and the annual State Championship. Check the calendar on the website, but we have something on every month except Dec/Jan . So you can get value for money and not have to travel interstate.

4. ‘I need a specialist aerobatic aircraft.’ You will need an aircraft that is approved for aerobatics, true, but any aerobatic training aircraft can be flown competitively up to and including Sportsman category. Intermediate category is where basic aerobatic aircraft start to become limiting. You don’t even need inverted fuel and oil systems in the lower grades (Entry, Graduate, Sportsman). Victa, Citabria, Aerobat, Tiger Moth, Tipsy Nipper, Robin/Alpha, Stampe, Skybolt, RV-4/6/7/8, T-18, Cassutt, Corby Starlet, Sonerai – and many more, can get you into the sport at an affordable price.

So give it some thought and make some enquiries. Next time we'll look at the competition categories.

Don't forget our next training weekend is the 8-9th August at Cowra.

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