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Aerobatics - maketh a better pilot?

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I thought I'd start up a discussion:What are your thoughts about aerobatics? I know there are a lot of people in here who've never really gotten into it, but I can't help thinking that those pilots are missing out on the finer points of precision flight.Do you believe aerobatics are important for becoming a better hands-on pilot? If not, why not?Also, do you believe spin training can potentially make one a safer pilot? Why? Why not?I've started getting into advanced aerobatics in FS2004 (there are some maneuvers that can't really be done in FS2004 due to the lack of gyroscopic effect modelling etc, but most can be, especially in an aircraft such as the RealAir Spit), and I've really noticed my general flying skills improve immeasurably. I though I'd get everyone else's thoughs about the subject as well.James

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Yes, I believe that even some basic aerobatic training makes a better pilot. I think it makes you more mentally aware of un-usual attitudes, and immediate responses for recovery. There is a recent news report concerning the 2005 crash of a MD-82 in Venezuela, where the pilots apparently didn't react correctly to a stalled situation after a fast climb on auto-pilot; and actually appreared to have pulled full back on the yokes including up-trim all the way to the ground. See link:http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/01/19/news/venezuela.phpPilots have done the same thing, when getting into an inadvertant spin, then freeze the yoke and ride it all the way to the ground. Stalls and recovery are part of basic pilot training; but perhaps the mind tends to forget??? Aerobatic training seems to implant recovery methods into the mind, because you do it over and over. At least that's my experience. I once paid huge sums of cash for two years of aerobatic training exerience in a Pitt's S2B and an aerobatic rated glider. I still think it was worth it! Although in-advertant spins, and rolls due to severe types of turbulence are rare, I'm at least comforted by the fact that my mind will react immediately to getting myself out of a bad situation. No time to look it up in the POH! :-hah Besides, I still like to do loops, rolls, and other manuvers. I won't be committing potential suicide by ending up in a low altitude split S after a failed aileron roll, and will quickly think about a quick half Cuban Eight, should the "bottom end" of a loop not look right.L.Adamson

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James,In the grand scheme of things I am low houred, but from my personal experience I have formed an opinion. Without meaning to sound flipant aerobatics does make you a better aerobatics pilot, in the same way that recurrent sim training makes you a better airline pilot. Aeros does not teach you anything you should already know about airmanship, airlaw, meteorology, discipline, handling emergencies, etc. I think I would argue that being a better pilot means that you are able consider safety and efficiency without accepting compromises. You ability to do basic aerobatics does not, in my view, enhance these areas if they were already lacking due to an attitude problem. If you don't have an attitude problem then they won't be wanting.From personal experience, there are two courses in particular the force you to re-examine your approach to flying: tailwheel and commercial. The tailwheel basically encourages you think more heuristically about your envionment. You have to actively manouevre the aircraft to see where you are going, you must be aware of wind direction, even on the ground, you also develop a portfolio of techniques for dealing difficult approach situations that spamcan pilots could use, but don't seem to be taught consistently (there is only so much you can fit into 45hrs though) Stuff that spamcan pilots can be sloppy with and get away with it. The basic commercial license (not the instrument rating) demands that you take control of the situation and apply decisive and good decisions, that you are not phased or flumuxed by any unexpected events. Basically that you think about the conduct of the flight before you need to apply it. It also demands accurate watch and map navigation, diversions, R/T and emergencies. It expects you to fly the shortest route, even if that means a more complex flight without even the slightest compromise to safety. I think some criticise the fly by numbers approach that commercial flight training schools promote, but I really think a the commercial license is a thourough base on which to develop you flying futher, be that ATPL, aeros, display pilot, etc.

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I think I'm one of the few who also like aerobatic. Recently, I've been doing aerobatic in IL2 using Spit IX. Why IL2 ? Because it's so much more frame-rate friendly. I had even just bought 2 days ago an MSFS Spit and another P47. Both disappointed me a lot in that the frame-rate took quite a hit, especilly the P47.By the way, is there any download of document showing some major Air Show aerobatic moves? I would like to use some samples to fly aerobatic.Lep

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Thanks for the heads-up on those links. Will be looking through them in due time.Lep

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I would love to take unusual attitude training lessons. I know they offer them in northeast- they offer a few days of spin recovery and other stuff. As a private pilot that is a big fear of me. They always say "a spin won't happen if you stay coordinated". That's great, but what about those gusts that knock your turn coordinator around? I know what the recovery technique is- but I've never done it, and have no idea how I would react if faced with one.I think 100% aerobatics would make someone a better pilot.

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From my limited aerobatic experience,A little aerobatic work can be great exposure to very unusual attitudes, but reaction to attitudes you will most likely encounter in routine controlled flight should be pretty well instilled through basic flight training. I will agree that an introduction to aerobatic flight can be a good thing, but it can be a deadly thing as well. My partner stalled his Pitts at the top of his first loop and basically flat spun nearly a thousand feet before recovering. He'd had a few hours of introductory work in an S-2 but not enough formal aerobatic training to go off on his own. He eventually became very proficient but only after a great deal of work.Many instructors will not fully stall an airplane, but teach the student to recognize an imminent stall and effect the recovery at recognition. Stall/spin accidents are still happening and I believe the typical approach and departure stall series should be practiced (through full stall) until recovery comes quickly and naturally. However, seeing green up near the cabin vent does not often bring a controlled and proper reaction from any but those with formal training and sufficient practice to stay somewhat current. My first aileron roll was in a Thorpe T-18 with an F-16 pilot. After a couple of demonstrations it was my turn. No problemo - I'd had my ticket for years, was a competitive pattern R/C pilot - I know all about this stuff...not! At the inverted point I was apparently overwhelmed at the view/attitude/meaning of life, etc. (as I later read most people are), and just relaxed on the stick and flew a very nice inverted arc. My friend woke me up and I finished the roll, which now took about a 3-g pullout.About a half dozen rolls later I could finally concentrate on flying through the maneuver with some degree of precision. I guess my point is that unless we plan to actively pursue aerobatics (not saying an occasional excursion over the top is not a terrific thing), I think we really ought to concentrate on honing our skills and flying precision within our aircraft, and our personal, limitations. Works for me anyway.Regards,Leon

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I don't know whether or not it would help regular GA pilots, although I can see it being useful in emergency situations, but it sure is fun!! Check my videos below of my Mustang Flight!!

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yes, as I also believe being an A&P makes you a better pilot. :)

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Knowing how an aircraft performs across the flight envelope...from stall to redline, upright to inverted, clean and configured absolutely makes you a better pilot, which is why both USAF and USN flight schools teach aerobatics to all of their pilots.Also, it's a terrific confidence-building measure. Makes the initial reaction to an unusual attitude situation (i.e. John Kennedy Jr) or a spin, or flight control malfunction recovery much more manageable.RegardsBob ScottATP IMEL Gulfstream II-III-IV-VSantiago de Chile

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You are 100% correct Bob, and military pilots routinely engage in aerobatic flight. The problem we've all witnessed and lost friends to, though, is the urge to attempt aerobatics with only a familiarization ride. Couple that with a low-time pilot that probably doesn't fully understand controlled flight in the first place and we're back to the previous sentence.My father, a retired fighter pilot, hammered me with the concept of coordinated flight using the old standards like lazy-eights and chandelles. We thoroughly explored approach, departure, and accelerated stall recognition and recovery, spin recognition and recovery, and why pilots die turning from base to final.My aerobatic jaunts are limited to an occasional ride with a well trained pilot in the right airplane - but - I have no doubt that I could recover from any intended or unintended unusual attitude, as long as the airplane survived whatever placed it there initially.I have a number of friends who are competitive aerobatic pilots, and they are better at aerobatics than I am, but they are not better pilots than I am. I guess I'm a little sensitive to the issue as a couple of very good friends of mine are no longer alive. Now don't misunderstand - I love watching aerobatics more than rasslin'; in fact I'm based in Lakeland, Florida, home of Sun n' Fun and all around airplane nirvana. As a child at military airshows I've watched my dad roll down the runway right on the deck, pull to the vertical, light the afterburner, and roll out of sight (or as nearly out of sight as an F-94C would go). That'll put a mud-eatin grin on a kid's face. My contention though, or maybe expectation, is that proper primary training and subsequent experience 'should' equip a pilot with the tools necessary to correct an immediate or imminent flight or equipment problem. For what its worth, and with respectful regards,Leon

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