Ever since I can remember, I’ve loved aviation. I watched and learned any thing I could, and when I had the chance I would go to the air shows and watch the aerobatic routines in “awe”. I always wandered what it would take; what do these pilots have to go through to be able to fly those crazy routines? Well, I finally got to have a taste of that for real! Starting a few years ago I flew R/C aerobatics, and my lovely wife and daughter bought me a ride in a PITTS!!! After all I had a 30% model of one. This was my first true ride in anything smaller than a 747. Brett put me through all the moves, I was totally blown away. I had been saying “I’ll be a pilot someday” long enough. I started training just a few months after that. Finally I had become a pilot in February of 2004, and it was a dream come true, but I still had that itch to be upside down. Starting in May of 2005, I started my training to compete in the Ohio Open. It took about 4 or 5 lessons to stop feeling awful after each flight, but the short time I had in the air was worth all the misery I felt after. Things started to come together around lesson 8 and I started to put all of the pieces together. The next two lessons were focused just on the Primary and trying to keep it in a straight line and in a small box. Now I had just about 11 hours in the Decathlon, and the weekend came.
My Wife, Daughter and I headed up to Marysville for practice on Friday night. When we got to the airport I started getting very nervous. Aerobatic planes were every where. Having flown at many R/C meets it was like all of our toys just grew up. It was intimidating for me, having only about 60 hours TT. Trying to mix with people who had hundreds or thousands of hours of experience, not to mention most have been flying since I was still in grade school, was difficult for me. But once I started meeting them all, they were very accepting to a new guy. I went in and got registered then met up with Gordon to get in a practice round. As we started our “Long” climb, we got the call to enter the box, as the previous person was done. This was the first time I had ever seen the markers out; I had a terrible time trying to see the markers when the plane was over them. Once up we left the box and went over entering it. Basically you can’t see crap!! At least not until you have a clue what to look for. I entered fast and did the ever so lovely float trying to slow down. Once I stared the spin, it was like a blur. I just went through like I had in practice. I tried to watch the markers, but the only time I truly saw them was at the top of the loop, and no the center marker was not under me! Since it is a short routine, we climbed back up and did it again. I did it 3 times, getting better and slower each time. After the last one its get down and out of the box quick. We were on the ground in seconds, or at least it seemed that way. Good thing Gordon was with me, because I just went blank. It was like I had not flown that plane before. Once down we talked it over, and went over the entry again.
The next day came and it was time for Primary. I got the shoot on and Gordon and I headed out. We started out toward hold 1 and then got sent to hold 2 before we even got close to 3000 ft. Now that call came over the radio. “The box is yours” and that is when it got quiet. If you ever fly with Gordon, that’s a weird feeling. I had practiced this a bunch, but always with a voice. This time I was on my own. I entered the box fine and did my spin. 1 turn and it came out on heading, my loop was centered, but I had forgotten to let go of the pull and float over the top, so I pinched it. After the 180, the dreaded slow roll!! It felt like it was one of the best ones I’ve ever done. After the last turn, I wagged and the voice came back: “Dive, Dive, Dive”, now just fly the plane. Downwind, Base, Final, damn I’m too fast. We floated way past the numbers, but got down fine and taxied back. My first competition run was over. It happed so fast. What a rush!! I loved every minute of it. My second flight was not as good. I floated before my spin, and tried to squeeze, so I did not go out of the box, and my scores showed it. While I was not knocking on Mr. Henderson’s door, I had a great experience, and got to meet a great group of people in the processes.
Heading up to Traverse City with the family
2 weeks ago