Almost Throwing Up Has Never Been So Much Fun

Pitts SpecialYesterday, I had my first aerobatic flying experience. I went up in N117PS, a Pitts Special S/2B owned by Attitude Aviation in Livermore. I have always thought that Pitts biplanes were cool, and I was right. The thing is a rocket. Extremely responsive. Think about turning, and it happens. There’s very little forward visibility (ie. none), so you have to work around that, especially when landing. First we did some aileron rolls. After a couple of examples, I was able to do those pretty easily on my own. Lift the nose 30 degrees or so, then stick to the side, with no rudder deflection. After that, Andy showed me a couple of loops. At that point I needed a break, so we landed at Tracy and fueled up. Back in the air we did a couple of hammerheads. The first one was straight up with an inverted roll-out at the top. The second one we spun on the way up and did a ‘humpty’ over the top. That was it for me and I had to ask for an end to the festivities. I recovered enough to fly the plane partly back to Livermore, where Andy took over and landed.
The G meter read +4/-1 Gs for the flight. They say you build up a tolerance to aerobatics over time, and that everyone has problems in the beginning. Even though I felt ill for part of it, I had a great time and will be going again. It’s more intense than any rollercoaster you can imagine. I think mastering the Pitts will be a fun challenge, and I’ve been told that aerobatic training makes you a better pilot.

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