Primarily for general aviation discussion, but other aviation topics are also welcome.
Wildcat One........Aaahh, those Bleriot days.......
MaxtheLion.........The last three years have seen Pitts' place very well at the Intermediate Nationals, which illustrates the conundrum of perception over fact. Last year's winner was in an S2A, Bronze went to an S1S. In two of the previous year's my syndicate partner took Bronze in an S2E. In fact in 2016 3 of the top 4 positions were Pitts pilots. I seem to recall that last year the Sports champion was flying an RV8 and embarrassed all the carbon mono drivers...........
It's true that some competitors see buying a monoplane as a quick way to reach the higher levels, but it is also true that in this sport there is very little substitute for time learning the craft. Progression is rung by rung on a never ending ladder.
What has changed recently is that many more competitors are choosing to 'rent not buy' . With some notable exceptions the renters are investing in monoplanes, since they can teach all levels, including gyroscopic and advanced spinning. Having said that, the gold standard in that arena is still Alan Cassidy in the S2A.
Some interesting points and you will certainly get me to engage in debate on the subject, so please feel free to develop the discussion in this forum and elsewhere.
Meanwhile, good luck to the Team in the Czech Republic. Great posts, Dave.
I reckon many of those renters would have considered buying a share in something less capable if the playing field was levelled with a K factor for the aeroplane. I totally agree that stick time (plus a good coach) is key in pilot development, but for the same number of hours practice, and the same level of ability, an Extra will always require less skill to pole around a Sports sequence than a Tiger Moth. No pilot has an infinite amount of mental resource to call upon during a flight, so the less taxing the aeroplane is to fly, the more attention can be focussed on presenting the best possible performance.
I think another factor in the Pitts becoming less common on the competition scene is that they have appreciated so much in price that there isn't much of a jump between a £55k S-1S and a £67k Extra 230 or Edge 360. I'm not sure why the values of those aeroplanes have done so well in recent years, but it's another factor working against competitors on a budget like myself. I certainly wouldn't discount buying a share in a good Pitts myself, but I would prefer a share in a monoplane just to see how it feels to win partly because of my equiment, rather than in spite of it.

Also, none of this should be construed as me having a downer on the BAeA, far from it - I'm a massive fan of them, their efficient and safe running of competitions, and the framework they provide that has enabled me to become the best pilot I could be.
Dan Rihn made a stab at levelling the field with the One Design - still the best 'bang for buck' mono out there. Effectively a monoplane S1S. Will it take on a 330SC ? Well, it wins on capital cost, running costs and there is a lot less of it to polish........
They have competed honourably at Unlimited in the UK, USA and Oz to my certain knowledge.
Charliesixtysix liked this
I'm sure I've been in countries where they have one series comps - that would level the field even further.

The BAeA is a great organisation and all down to volunteers such as Steve T, NB, JB, EM, and the hordes of judges and judge-assistants, etc, etc.

Even if you have no aerobatic interest, pop along to a competition and spectate for a couple of hours, it's eye-wateringly inclusive. You could even help out on the judging line.
davef77 liked this
Day 2 of pre-competition training camp.

The thunder storms that got in the way of our last flight had passed today after an evening of deluge. The wet ground meant some fog lifting from the trees around the airfield this morning but otherwise great flying conditions. It was considerably, probably 10 degrees, cooler although still quite warm, in the high 20's.

Today we flew a couple of Unknown sequences and then finished the day with another run-through of our Free Knowns.

I am pleased with my flying. Lots or room to improve of course, but my positioning is getting better, including coping today with a good 15-20kt on-judge wind. I am pleased that I am flying my Free Known Sequence to a fairly consistent standard.

The Unknowns were pretty challenging today, and so good training.

This evening we worked on ideas for Free Unkown sequences, I will talk more about that later.

People asked about the scoring...

Judging aerobatics starts by assuming that you fly a figure perfectly, and so you are awarded a score of 10!

Then for each error that the judge sees, 5 degrees off axis, from level, line too long, line before a roll is shorter than the line after, loops not round etc etc points are deducted.

For example, if I pull to vertical and don't quite make it (say 5 degrees short of vertical) and then perform a 1/2 roll, but under-rotate by 10 degrees, I will get a 1 point deduction for not being vertical and 2 points off (1 point per 5 degrees) for the under-rotation in the roll. So my score for that figure will be 7.

Then there is a difficulty factor applied. There is a catalog of allowable figures, all the figures that may be flown within the rules of regular competition flying. It is called the Aresti catalog. It enumerates all of the base figures, loops, stall-turns, turns, humpty-bumps, spins etc and assigns each a "K factor" which represents how difficult this figure is to fly. You can then "decorate" the base figure with all sorts of different rolls and spins. Each of these adds more "K" to the difficulty factor of the overall figure.

Here is a sequence coded as an Aresti diagram to demonstrate, a bit, what I am talking about...


So back to scoring, consider a stall turn, pull to vertical, turn around at the top (within the wing-span of the aeroplane), fly vertically down and pull to level. This figure has a K factor of 17. You can add all kinds of rolls or flick-rolls on the up and down lines. If you add a 1/2 roll on the up line that adds 8K so the total K for the figure is 25.

The previous score, out of ten, is then multiplied by the "K factor" for the figure overall. So if we scored 7/10 for our stall-turn with a 1/2 roll we'd get a mark for the figure of 175.

These compound figures are assembled together into a series called a "Sequence" the score for the sequence is the total score for all the figures. Except it is a bit more complex than that 8)

In past World championships, in the 1960's, National pride overruled common sense and so Judges would score pilots from their own country more favourably. This abuse was quite blatant in some of the early international competitions. As a result a sophisticated statistical analysis of the Judges scores is carried out. The system is called "Fair Play" or FPS (Fair Play System) for short. Judges scores and judging history in analysed and outliers are levelled using FPS to try an eliminate bias, unconscious or otherwise.

This ends up with there being two competitions taking place. There is the competition between the pilots testing their flying and a competition between the judges to demonstrate that their scores are the fairest. Judges qualify to judge international competitions by having shown that their scores are statistically fair, based on FPS, and so take the competition for fairness seriously.

The airfield at Morovska Trebova is lovely, and we are extremely grateful to our hosts. We are currently sharing it with two other international teams, the Polish team and the Czech team. The Czech team were flying this lovely Zlin 50.

Zlin 50

This is the aeroclub house at Movska Trebova.
Dave W, deltacharlie, Hooligan and 2 others liked this
Day 3 of pre-competition Training Camp.

Today the weather was perfect. Sunny with scattered clouds at about 6 or 7 thousand feet. Warm, but with a nice cool breeze, delightful!

Today we spent working on two things, technique and Free Unknown planning.

For the technique flights, each pilot created a short 4 or 5 figure sequence with figures that they found tricky or wanted to improve on. I wanted to work on my flick-rolls, "popping my lines" and hesitation rolls, so I made a sequence with an avalanche (a flick roll at the top of a loop), a half loop with half-flick at the top and several figures with vertical and 45 degree lines with various hesitation rolls on them.

I am working on trying to improve the crispness of my flying, which is part of what the "pop" is about. The goal with all competition flying is to make your flying look good to the judges on the ground. One way to do this is to clearly demonstrate when you are changing direction by pulling, or pushing, very hard for a brief fraction of a second to "break the line" of your flight and then flying a smooth curve to you next heading (usually up or down at 90 or 45 degrees) at which point you want to try and "pop" the stop too.

It is coming along, but as ever more practice will help.

The Free Unknown process is a relatively new development in competition flying. First you need to understand about "Unknowns".

As I mentioned an "Unknown Sequence" is one where you are not allowed to practice it. You are given the sequence, in domestic competitions usually a couple of hours before you fly, and are expected to learn it and plan it and then fly it in front of the Judges.

Unknowns are often created before the competition and everyone in a given class (Club, Standard, Intermediate, Advanced and Unlimited) flies the same sequence.

A Free Unknown is the same in that we don't get to practice it, but is generated by the pilots. In international competition ten of the competing nations are picked at random. Each nation submits a figure that they are confident in, but hope will surprise the others.

Each person or team or small group of pilots can then create a sequence from this collection of 10 figures. To help join the figures into a flyable whole sequence you are allowed to add up to 4 additional "link figures" which can be anything, but have a total fixed "K" of 24.

The complexity in this process comes with the rules. You are not allowed to duplicate any rolls on any given line. So, you can have a 1/2 roll on an up-line and a 1/2 roll on a down-line, but you can't have two figures both with 1/2 rolls on an up-line, for example. This makes selecting a valid figure in the first place tricky and then you have to string them together into a flyable sequence.

So we are busy practicing the process of picking figures and designing sequences, as well as flying.

This evening, before dinner, we picked 10 figures at random and then built sequences out of them that we will fly tomorrow.

Adrian Willis, who runs the British Aerobatics Academy, is one of my team mates. He is flying a new top-class experimental machine called a Gen Pro. One of the experiments was to try a 3-blade prop, but it was too heavy moving the CofG too far forward and so compromising the flick and spin performance a bit. So his training, and that of the Polish team who are sharing the Gen Pro, was impacted by the need to change a prop today.

Finally, this afternoon our training camp base was chosen as a turning point by two glider competitions :)

Getting ready to change to a 4-blade prop.

Polish team helping to remove the old prop.

Trevor waiting for his turn in the practice box.

Gliders in the Box!
by Maxthelion » 04 Jul 2019 08:17
I'd love to know more about how they get on with the Gen Pro - I've heard it's a challenging aeroplane to get to enter spins cleanly and it would be interesting to know about anything that's being tried over the course of this competition to improve that.

Putting the lighter 2 blade prop on will march the CoG aft. That will certainly help. The next obvious step would be to bolt a lump of lead in the tail. There is a well known 200hp S1 that certainly has had that done to it in the past.
Wildcat One wrote:
by Maxthelion » 04 Jul 2019 08:17
I'd love to know more about how they get on with the Gen Pro - I've heard it's a challenging aeroplane to get to enter spins cleanly and it would be interesting to know about anything that's being tried over the course of this competition to improve that.

Putting the lighter 2 blade prop on will march the CoG aft. That will certainly help. The next obvious step would be to bolt a lump of lead in the tail. There is a well known 200hp S1 that certainly has had that done to it in the past.

It is actually a lighter 4-blade prop, but you are right the CofG has moved aft and the spins are better.

In part I think that there is a bit of adaption in spinning in many of these Unlimited class aeroplanes. It took me a long time to get to grips with the spin in my CAP when I moved from the Pitts S2A. These days spins are a much more "flown" manoeuvre for me than they used to be.

It may have been bad technique on my part, but in my Pitts I basically used to put full rudder neutral aileron and full back stick for a spin and then punch the stop and it all worked out fine. The CAP spin is horrible if you do this. It takes significantly more finesse and you have to modify elevator and aileron, and it helps to add a bit of power, to make the spin look nice.

Adrian who has more time in Extra 200's than most people in the world, says that the "spin problem" is really more about getting used to the different machine. The wing on the Gen Pro is quite high-tech, with different airfoil sections along the span. It can get to 230 kts in a straight line and yet it stalls at 52!

It is an interesting machine!