02 April 2012

Hammerheads and a little bit of Wave

I have no relevant pictures, so here is Hangar Cat.
Despite the forecast, the ceilings allowed for an aerobatics lesson on Saturday. I was happy to get back into the Super Decathlon after two consecutive weather cancellations. First, we reviewed: the loop, half cuban eight, immelmann, and slow roll while attempting to string the figures together in a sequence as would be done in a contest.

I continued to screw up the simplest things, such as adding extra control inputs during the roll in the half cuban and immelmann. Despite being the "easiest" to do, that roll on the 45-degree down line gives me trouble. And for some inexplicable reason, I was caught adding left rudder at the start of the slow roll. I'd never done that before. The three week lapse really showed.

During one immelmann, I started the roll too early--nose way too high inverted--then didn't let the nose fall enough to compensate. The airplane stalled at the end of the roll out. But even the botches are good learning opportunities; it was certainly a new experience to find the airplane not obeying my commands in that attitude.

Then I learned the Hammerhead, my favorite maneuver so far. From level flight in the Decathlon, pull about 3.5 g, then set a vertical line using a distant point off the left wing for reference. As the airplane decelerates, add forward stick to keep it from going over on its back and right aileron to compensate for prop effects. At just the right moment (when the fabric begins to rumble in this airplane), kick full left rudder so that the nose slices through the ground reference point off your wing. Done correctly, the pivot occurs almost in place; in a contest, it must complete within one wingspan. Begin to neutralize the rudder and stop the pivot when headed straight down with a brief touch of the right rudder pedal. Finally, pull out to level.

Hangar Cat looking for a handout or some attention
I was happy to fly a few decent hammerheads on Saturday. My vertical line was mostly vertical and the kick was fairly well timed. It seemed to make sense to me. I need to work on neutralizing the controls more smoothly at the end of the turn, but I'll get there. I did have one good botched hammer, though: I waited too long for the kick and I believe the airplane sort of flopped over on its back. So it goes.

I had to deliver some fiberglass supplies for our tail dolly project, so I drove straight to FRR after my lesson. I managed to get a flight in the Grob 103 while I was there. Weather conditions were unusual: surface winds at about 15 knots out of the ENE and at least 20 knots WNW aloft. There were lenny-like clouds between the airport and the ridge. Flying beneath the leading edge of those clouds resulted in 3-7 knots of somewhat confused lift. Weak rotor? Since I was nearly the last flight of the day, I decided that a half hour was enough. I pitched the Grob over and held over 100 knots when passing through the sink to get back to the airport. I'd never had it going that fast before.

Nothing written on this blog should be considered training or advice. Do not attempt to teach yourself aerobatics. Find a competent instructor and an aircraft suitably stressed for the task.

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