Flying in a Pitts, Solo time & Aeros

In which I fly in a Pitts, do some more solo time in the Jab, find that I apparantly can’t land for love nor money and experience aerobatics for the first time

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Today’s adventures were going to be a little different to usual. I had arranged with D, who owns a Pitts S2A, to meet up with him at Moorabbin (YMMB), fly from Moorabbin to Lilydale, do my solo mission, then fly back from Lilydale to Moorabbin.

So, I met up with D at Moorabbin, met the Pitts, managed to climb in (I’d need to get a bit mor flexible if I had one of my own, I’m a little too short to just climb in easily (story of my flying life…)), we got sorted and headed off. It was my first time airside at Moorabbin and it took a little time to get used to just how much bigger and how much busier it was. I think I’m glad I’m learning somewhere a little quieter to be honest.

We flew across from Moorabbin to Lilydale and landed in perfect time for my solo mission.

I went inside, said hello to J, and was given the folder for 4964. I preflighted ’64, got some last minute instructions from J, then taxiied over and took off from 36L.

I’d stashed my camera in my bag and managed to get a few random pictures in once I’d settled it into the climb.

Woo, solo!

Once I reached 4000ft, I started off with a few stalls. I did a few clean power off stalls and a flapped power off stall. None of them were bad, but the aircraft didn’t stall particularly well (not that it usually does) – in one of the clean stalls I was just mushing along in a nose high attitude, it didn’t seem to want to stall at all.

I then tried a few steep turns. I was generally fine with steep turns to the left but had some trouble with steep turns to the right, I couldn’t seem to get it into the turn properly and wasn’t getting the G-force feeling which meant that I’d done the turn correctly. I tried it a few more times but decided that I’d have to revise it with J next dual mission.

While I was bashing around, I also managed to get a short video on my camera. You can expect to see more videos once I’m licenced, I’m looking into buying a proper video camera to stick inside the cockpit. Right now I’m considering the GoPro Hero HD, but any and all suggestions would be welcome.

I then had a crack at a forced landing, deliberately picking a place where I was over houses (i.e. less field options) to make sure I wasn’t just practicing in easy places with lots of fields. Overall it wasn’t too bad, although I think I could’ve been in a better position when I got to 1000ft (wasn’t quite at my 1000ft point).

I then decided to head back and do a couple of circuits. The first time around I went to do a flapped T&G on 36L but ended up unbelievably high on final – I think I was at about 1100ft when turning final rather than the usual 900ft. I sideslipped like crazy down final (longest sideslip I’ve ever done – so much fun!) but was still too high so made the call to go around.

The second time around I went to do a flapped full stop on 36R. I wasn’t quite as high this time but, as 36R was the shorter runway, I knew that if I went to touch down then I’d run out of runway before I’d stopped, so I, once again, made the call to go around.

The third time around I decided to try a flapless landing instead. This one was far more successful and I got it on the ground (yay!). It seems I need to work on my flapped landings, oddly enough I seem to be better at flapless landings than flapped!

After I’d paid and filled out my logbook etc, D and I jumped back into the Pitts to head back to Moorabbin – with a few aeros along the way!

We did a mixture of barrel rolls, loops, 1/2 Cubans, reverse 1/2 Cubans. stall turns and 4 point hesitation rolls. It was both really exciting and absolutely terrifying! I was actually hanging onto my harness – I started off hanging onto the lap belt (without thinking about it) then realised that hanging onto the lap belt right near the buckle might not be the most sensible idea, so started hanging onto my shoulder harness instead! It was definitely lots of fun but also very scary. Oddly enough I started feeling more scared as we went along, it seemed a bit like I was telling myself I should feel scared or something. I definitely want to try aeros again, but in a slightly more sedate aircraft 😛 and definitely with me in control. I think it’d be far less scary when you’re in control because you know what’s coming next, rather than just being a passenger. D did explain what each move was and where I should be looking, but it still wasn’t the same as actually being in control of what was going on.

Interestingly, the thing I was most worried about with aeros – the G-forces – didn’t really bother me half as much as I thought they might. I think it’s partly because I’ve gotten better at dealing with G-forces since I’ve been flying but maybe also because I was too busy being excited/scared to notice! 😛

I was starting to feel slightly airsick after that, so we decided to head back to Moorabbin. When we got back, D took a photo of me with the Pitts and I helped him to push it back into the hangar.

Overall it was a pretty fantastic (and busy!) day and I’m definitely thankful to D for taking me for a fly in his Pitts. 🙂 I’ve got another mission in the Jab booked for tomorrow, this time flying with J again to work on some of the things I’ve discovered while flying solo that I need some help with – in particular, steep turns to the right and flapped landings!

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