by John Rafferty
Aerobatic Demo at Santa Ana
Almost anything goes here at Ana San Bandana Air-a-Rama, and this week, the magic word is lessons.
The “San Ban” flight service (as it's affectionately known here at the John Wayne/Orange County Airport) is owned and operated by the ever-inventive Sarana brothers, who each week offer a different sales incentive to their pilots. This week a special added commission will go to any pilot who brings in a new contract for flying lessons, and the brothers aren't especially fussy about the methods used to bring about such contracts.
So, despite the competition from the other San Ban pilots, you have a definite edge—unlike most of the others, you're skilled at aerobatics. As a result, all you need to do is to lure an unsuspecting victim aboard for a free demo ride, and in only a matter of minutes, you can have him or her eating right out of your hand.
Of course, any such free demos are at your own personal expense—the brothers fully appreciate the motivational impact of hunger combined with greed—but the commissions are hefty enough to justify the cost.
As a result, you're all smiles right now as you climb into Four Six Fox. It's a clear day with a cloudless sky. You have three nervous nellies aboard, all strapped in, so a nice fat triple commission is as good as in your pocket.
On the San Ban Ramp, After Contacting Ground
Four Six Foxtrot cleared to taxi for Runway 1 Right
Proceed straight ahead across the ramp
And follow the parallel taxi strip.
Approaching the Threshold of Runway 1
Four Six Foxtrot Orange County Tower
On one twenty-six point eight so long.
Four Six Foxtrot cleared for departure
Runway 1 Right
Altimeter three zero point one zero
Wind zero one zero degrees at three
You set the brake, advance the throttle to full power, and then release the brake. At the end of the runway, you jerk the airplane abruptly into the air.
At 500 Feet
Four Six Foxtrot turn right heading zero niner zero degrees
And we'll see you later.
At 800 Feet
You turn further right and head towards Catalina Island while climbing rapidly to 8000 feet.
Over the Pacific at 8000 Feet
You now perform a continuous series of interconnected loops, rolls, and split-S and Immelman maneuvers, with only interim periods of sustained inverted flight to catch your breath.
You continue the process until all three of your green-faced passengers have agreed to flying lesson contracts, with a nominal cash deposit turned over for each. Then, you head toward Santa Ana, begin a descent to 2000 feet, and maneuver to intercept R-010 inbound.
10 Miles DME from Santa Ana, On R-010, at 2000 Feet
You contact the Orange County Tower, receive clearance for a straight-in visual to Runway 1 Left, and proceed to set up for the approach.
6 Miles DME, At 2000 Feet
You kill the engine, turn to your passengers with a helpless shrug, and begin to negotiate extensions to their contracts while you proceed to execute a dead-stick landing.
On the Runway
Four Six Foxtrot turn right next intersection
And hold short of Runway 1 Right
Contact Ground on one two zero point eight good day.
Switch, indicate destination.
Four Six Foxtrot you're cleared to cross Runway 1 Right
Then turn left onto the parallel taxi strip
And proceed to your ramp.
Your passengers inquire why the engine now seems to be running just fine, but you ignore the question by pretending to be busy with the transponder.
A variety of enjoyable and exciting aerobatic maneuvers can be performed on the simulator, most of which you can even do in autocoordination mode. You'll find they're much easier to learn than you might think. Although you probably won't duplicate the smoothness and precision of the Blue Angels, it shouldn't take more than a few tries with each maneuver before you're able to execute it successfully. Performing these procedures increases your sense of control over the airplane, and you'll find them very satisfying.
Some maneuvers can result in a considerable loss of altitude, especially if you goof, so you should first climb to perhaps 7000 or 8000 feet. Get the airplane cruising in straight and level flight; then use the program's save feature to save the flight parameters to memory before you start, so you can return quickly and easily to your starting position to try again at any time.
At certain points in some maneuvers, it can be very helpful to glance out the side window of the cockpit so you can see the position of the wing relative to the horizon. If you're using one of the 68000 versions, open a second view window, move it to the right (or left) edge of the screen, and set it for a 90-degree right (or left) side view. Users of other versions can switch to the left-wing or right-wing view momentarily when you need such a view.
Real-World Aerobatic Limitations
Needless to say, the material on aerobatics, like all other material in this volume, is meant for use on the simulator and not for real-world aviation. Unlike the simulator, most real-world airplanes have strict limitations with respect to aerobatics.
Some aircraft fuel systems cease to function in inverted flight, for example, and some airframes are not designed to handle the kinds of stresses imposed by certain aerobatic maneuvers. Never attempt such exercises in actual aviation without certified instruction and without careful adherence to the structural and design limitations of your particular aircraft.
Essentially, the conventional inside loop involves flying the airplane through a vertical circle.
Starting from straight and level flight, you first nose down into a gentle dive to increase the airspeed. At 200 knots, ease back on the stick, pulling the nose up into a climb; move the throttle to full power as the nose comes up past the horizon.
Keep nosing up at full power, using the side view to monitor your position as you begin to point straight up. Allow the airplane to continue up and over onto its back so you're momentarily inverted.
Reduce power again as the airplane continues up and around. It momentarily dives straight down and then continues around until you're in straight and level flight again.
The Barrel Roll
A barrel roll consists of a full rotation of the airplane about its central nose-to-tail axis. That is, the nose remains pointed in the same direction while the wings rotate through 360 degrees. The airplane first banks until one wing is pointed directly at the ground, continues the bank until the airplane is inverted, goes around until the second wing is pointed at the ground, and returns to the starting position in straight and level flight. The bank can be a smooth, continuous roll, or you can try to “snap roll” the airplane to each of the four 90-degree positions by pausing momentarily at each point.
If you begin this maneuver without adequate airspeed, the airplane may begin falling toward the earth as you roll over into an inverted position. Thus, before beginning to bank, first nose down to increase your airspeed.
At 160–180 knots or so, raise the nose again and position it just slightly above the horizon; then move the stick to the full right or left position to bank the airplane steeply. Hold the stick over and let the airplane roll.
As you come around into an inverted position, the airplane may begin to fall toward the ground. To “nose up” (skyward) when inverted, ease forward (not back) on the stick.
As you complete the roll and come back to your starting position, move the stick back to center to stop the roll.
Except that the world looks somewhat strange from an inverted position, you'll find the simulator airplane just as easy to handle when flying upside down as it is in normal flight. Just remember, when inverted you move the nose toward the ground by easing back on the stick, and you nose up (toward the sky) by easing forward on the stick.
To invert the airplane, follow the same procedure used for a barrel roll but move the stick (ailerons) back to center just as you come into the inverted position.
To return to normal flight from the inverted position, just roll out by moving the stick left or right. Or, you can return to straight and level flight in the opposite direction by using the split-S maneuver described below.
The split-S consists of the first half of a barrel roll followed by the second half of a loop. Starting from straight and level flight, the airplane first rolls over into an inverted position, which is the position it would be in after the initial (climbing) half of a loop. From that position, it starts to dive earthward and continues around the arc to normal straight and level flight in the opposite direction, as if completing the second half of a loop.
Begin as you would for a barrel roll, leveling the wings when you reach the inverted position. Once inverted, simply ease back on the stick. This causes the airplane to nose toward the ground. It reaches a directly nose-down position and continues around the arc until it's straight and level, only heading in the opposite direction from which you began.
This maneuver, which originated in World War I air combat, consists of the first half of a loop and the second half of a barrel roll. It begins as a conventional loop, but instead of continuing into the second (diving) part at the top of the loop, where the airplane is inverted, you roll the airplane back to normal straight and level flight so you're proceeding in the opposite direction from which you began.
- Start the procedure exactly as for a loop, using the side view to determine when you're at the very top of the loop with the airplane inverted.
- Just as the airplane passes this top point of the loop, move the stick forward to its central position to prevent the second (diving) part of the loop.
- From this inverted position, move the stick smartly to the right or left, banking the airplane into a half roll, which brings you back to normal straight and level flight.
After you get the hang of these various maneuvers by practicing them individually, you can begin to string several separate maneuvers together into one continuous procedure. Just be sure you start with enough altitude to allow for some “slippage.”
For example, you might start with a full barrel roll, continue through an extra half roll to end up inverted, and then recover by means of a split-S. At the bottom of the split-S, you could continue around and up again into an Immelman; as you roll out on top at the end of the immelman, you might continue through the half roll for an additional full barrel.
Pilots usually practice the dead-stick (power-off) landing to improve judgment in case of engine failure. On the simulator, it provides an enjoyable challenge.
To practice dead-stick landings, set the airplane for a normal approach. Use one notch flaps with an airspeed of about 90 knots. Move the throttle all the way back to idle speed and control the airspeed with the stick. Try adjusting the nose position for an airspeed of 60 knots.
As you're just about to touch down, ease back gently on the stick in order to flare.
BFC Aerobatic Exercise
Try your hand at the various acrobatic maneuvers by setting up the airplane at Bridgeport/Sikorsky:
- Fly up along the shoreline as you did on the first check ride, and climb to 8000 feet.
- Save the flight parameters to memory and work on each of the maneuvers in the order in which they're presented above.
- Upon returning to Bridgeport, descend to 2000 feet and use the VOR to line up with the runway while you're still about ten miles out.
- Set the airplane for an approach, and at six miles DME, cut the power.
If you find yourself coming in too high, you can burn off extra altitude by doing S turns as you approach or by lowering the flaps further. (If you're too low, however, you'll simply have to improvise.)