Airplane Aerobatics - TR

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Monday, May 29, 2006 10:33 PM
I haven't posted on here in forever, but I had the most amazing experience yesterday and figured I'd make all of you enthusiasts a little jealous. A couple weeks ago, I was talking to the executives at my work about the new SFOG coaster after attending the media day for Goliath. One of them said that I had to go flying with her husband because he was a fighter pilot, and has an experimental plan that can navigate aerial manuevers.

Well, lest Friday, I asked if this weekend was a good time to come out and take a ride, and it was. I made plan for Sunday afternoon, since the forecast was good, and the winds were to be very low. The lower the winds, the more intense maneuvers you can do in an airplane.

Once I got there, I found a new hobby that will someday consume my life. Not only does this guy fly planes, but he builds them himself and lives on a private airstrip in a house attached to his hangar! This was his 7th plane, which is known as an experimental plane. It is basically a hybrid between a basic, long distance plane and a trick plane. Because of this, we could not do any negative g maneuvers, so no inverted loops or airtime arcs.

That didn't matter, because he had seriously tricked out this plane. The kit had originally called for a V4 engine with 180HP. Thta was upgraded to a V6 with over 300HP. What does that do for you? Well, it lets you go up to 240 MPH and pull over 4Gs.

So after talking and learning all about the plane, I got strapped in and we taxied to the grass runway. After making a stop 15 miles south for gas, we headed back and started with the tricks. The names I remember were barrel roll, aeleron roll, loop, Cuban 8, Cloverleaf, and Immelman. But, we did every combination you could think of.

The best trick is the Immelman, by far. It started off diving towards the ground, leveling off at about 20 feet going about 200 mph. He then pulled the stick back and headed vertical pulling 4Gs. While heading up, the plane would rotate, kinda like TTD, before we would roll over the top upside down and head out of it.

Because the speed was so much faster than a roller coaster, the maneivers were much larger, and provided a much higher level of intensity. In addition, because there are no rails, all of the maneuvers seemed to be very fluid and natural. Because you are enclosed in the cockpit, the forces are much more intense, as there is no wind, restraints, or vibrations to mess it up.

We were in the air for about 45 minutes before it was time to land. If you ever get the chance to do something like this, be sure you take the offer. It was way more than I had expected, and an experience like none other.

And no, I probably can't get other people rides, so please don't ask :)

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