Page 6 - World Airshow Mar 2017
P. 6


                                   Why Aerobatics?

                              e    ver since I attended my first   aerobatic school in St. Augustine, Florida to prepare the cover
                                                                 But after spending two days visiting with Patty Wagstaff at her
                                   airshow back in the summer
                                   of 1972, I’ve wanted to learn
                             aerobatics.  As  a  student  pilot,  still   story for this issue, I have begun to rethink my decision not to
                                                               pursue any kind of formal aerobatic training.
                             about six months away from my first   As you can read in this issue, Patty makes a compelling case
                             solo at age 16, I was in awe watching   that almost every pilot can benefit from a few hours of aerobatic
                             Charlie Hillard, Gene Soucy, and   training. She even makes the point that a five-hour course doesn’t
                             Tom Poberezny fly their three tiny,   really prepare you to go fly aerobatics solo anyway. It’s all about
                             bright  red Pitts  Specials as the  Red   developing a better set of stick and rudder skills that will allow
                             Devils aerobatic team. While other   you to have better control of any airplane you fly, making you a
                             teenagers were idolizing rock stars and   safer and more confident pilot. Patty also says that many of her
                             ballplayers, Charlie, Gene, and Tom   students are repeat customers that come back periodically to
                             were my heroes.                   refresh their skills and learn more about flying outside of their
          Over the (many) years since that first show, I’ve earned my   normal flight envelope.
        private and commercial pilot license and my instrument rating.   If my visit to St. Augustine wasn’t enough to convince me that
        I’ve previously owned a Piper Archer, and now own a share of   there is a case to be made for aerobatic training, then Dudley
        another (my current set of wings). I’ve accumulated almost 1,900   Henriques essay “Aerobatics and the Everyday Pilot,” which also
        flying hours, almost all of it in basically straight and level flight.   appears in this issue, ought to seal the deal. Dudley says, “Even if
        From my home base near Charlotte, I’ve flown as far west as   you never do aerobatics again after taking a course and learning
        Oklahoma City, as far south as Miami, as far east as Kitty Hawk,   the basics, I will guarantee your flying will have improved by leaps
        and as far north as Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. I’ve even rented an   and bounds.”
        airplane for a self-guided air tour over the island of Maui, Hawaii   Maybe taking an aerobatics course one of these days wouldn’t
        on three different occasions.                          be a waste of time after all. I certainly want to be a safer and more
          But almost 45 years after I became enamored with the world   proficient pilot, and learning how to properly do some aerobatic
        of airshows and aerobatics, I’ve still never had a real aerobatics   maneuvers with the help of an experienced aerobatic instructor
        lesson. Yes, I’ve had the amazing opportunity to fly aerobatics as a   would also allow me to tick off another one of those “bucket list”
        journalist for this magazine, flying with some of the best airshow   items.
        pilots in the world – people like Rob Holland, Patty Wagstaff,   So, maybe I’ll consider giving aerobatics another look, because
        Greg Koontz, the Red Baron Squadron, the AeroShell Team, the   as Dudley says, it would be “pure FUN!”
        Black Diamond Jet Team, Lee Lauderback, Fred Cabanas, Corkey
        Fornof, and Brett Hunter.                              ShAeSTA WAiz
          Many of those pilots let me try my hand at a few aerobatic   While at Patty’s aerobatic school in early February, I had the
        maneuvers. Rob Holland let me muddle my way through some   pleasure to meet Shaesta Waiz, an amazing young woman from
        sloppy aileron rolls and what I thought was a decent loop. Greg   Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University who is planning to fly
        Koontz did the same in his Xtreme Decathlon a few years ago at   an A36 Bonanza around the world solo later this spring into the
        Oshkosh, and Patty Wagstaff let me try a few rolls in an Extra. In   summer. Shaesta was born in a refugee camp after her family fled
        one of the most amazing flights of my life, Lee Lauderback talked   Afghanistan during the Soviet-Afghan war. They immigrated to
        me through a barrel roll, aileron rolls, a half Cuban eight, and a   America, where Shaesta later developed a love for aviation, in-
        reverse half Cuban eight in the P-51 Mustang.          spiring her to graduate with undergraduate and graduate degrees
          I guess the closest thing I ever had to a real aerobatic lesson was   from Embry-Riddle.
        flying for about 30 minutes with Ben Freelove of Sean D. Tucker’s   Given the current national discussion around refugees,
        Tutima Academy of Aviation Safety in the school’s Extra 300L.   immigration, and walls, I found it incredibly ironic that I was
        In addition to the normal loops and aileron rolls, Ben talked me   standing there talking to an energetic and intelligent young
        through a full Cuban eight, a four-point roll, a hammerhead,   woman whose family might have great difficulty entering our
        inverted flight, a snap roll, and an honest-to-goodness Lomcevak,   country if they were trying to do so today, instead of in 1987.
        where I could feel the Extra seemingly tumble end-over-end. But   Shaesta’s passion for inspiring young women worldwide to pursue
        the reality was, this was still more of a familiarization flight than   careers in STEM and aviation (the real purpose of her around-
        a lesson.                                              the-world trip) was contagious. She is a prime example of how
          Despite these amazing flights, I still haven’t signed up for a full   our country is so much stronger when we welcome others to our
        aerobatic course. The reason: I don’t have access to an aerobatic-  shores with open arms.
        capable airplane to maintain proficiency after spending the   Have a great flight Shaesta. We’ll be following your journey
        money to learn a few maneuvers. Why learn, I’ve always thought,   every step of the way.
        if I couldn’t stay in practice?

                                        WWW.AIRSHOWMAG.COM   6  MARCH/APRIL 2017
   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11