Primarily for general aviation discussion, but other aviation topics are also welcome.
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By foxmoth
Having seen a number of posts where people are learning on an Extra or Pitts I am wondering what others think is the best to learn aeros on?
To me these aircraft are the wrong aircraft to learn the basics on, yes they are great for aeros and if you want to do serious competition then you do need to progress to something like this or better but they do not really teach the basics and good energy management in the right way, then you go to the other end of the spectrum such as the Cessna Aerobat and Citabria which are a bit underpowered and do not really handle that well.
Not claiming any great insight, just what I have seen from my corner of the wood.

I did my aerobatic rating on the Pitts S2A (with Alan Cassidy). I found it a superb experience, the aeroplane allowed all of the required manoeuvres to be shown and then flown cleanly and convincingly in what might be called 'text-book' fashion.

Since then I've flown aeros in Stampe, Tiger Moth, Firefly, Ryan STA & STM, Yak 18T, RV-7. All of these types had what might be seen as 'compromised' aerobatic performance compared to the Pitts, for a host of reasons. I had to adapt to these various compromises.

How would things have been different if I'd learned on a, say, Cessna 152 Aerobat? I can only guess but it sure as hell would have been a lot less fun than the Pitts and that is important to me.
Also I suggest I would have learned 'less pure' aerobatics as the compromises would have, necessarily, been built in during training to accomodate the limitations of the aeroplane.

I suppose, on balance, my feeling is that you are better learning on an 'uncompromised' aerobatic aeroplane. After that you adapt to the aeroplanes you fly later from the basis of knowing the pure manoeuvres. So long as you think things through before-hand (energy management, non-symetrical aerofoil sections, non-inverted engines, fixed pitch prop, etc.) then you should be able to cope and adapt accordingly.
Maybe you could go the other way and delete compromises if you learned on a Cessna and then tried the Pitts or similar, but would you know which were the compromises and which were the raw aerobatics techniques?

For me, the raw thrill of flying the iconic Pitts was actually what drew me into aerobatics, rather than the desire to fly aeros for its own sake.

Your money, you choose the cake.

VFR_UK, stevebakh liked this
Something similar to what I will be subsequently flying as I develop my skills as an aerobatic pilot.

If I'm going hard core, and planning to continue flying the Pitts, then a Pitts. if I'm going to fly a Slingsby - or something similar like a Bulldog or Monsun, stick with a Slingsby.

paulo999 liked this
To ensure good value for money, pick a type with a decent time to climb as you’ll be repeating a lot of manoeuvres such as spins and don’t want to spend five minutes getting back up each time. That largely rules out the Aerobat in one go, plus you want to spin something which recovers using the standard actions, not just “let go” (Beggs Muller excepted).
I would add that whilst some might have great ambitions with aeros, a subset will absolutely love the handling of an Extra from the first flight, and another subset might find their body survival instincts prefer them to learn on something that is a little slower/tamer than a 300-400 degrees per second roll/pitch rate.

I think the bigger issue is if someone wants to learn aeros as a complete beginner, how many different 2 seater aeros types are available for instruction? (Discussed on other threads). My perception is not many.

Happy I chose a T67 to learn the aeros basics.
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By Josh
I learned in the Great Lakes in the heat of Arizona. It was a very good aerobatic trainer - enough poke to do the fun stuff even at a decent density altitude. It had a fair bit of adverse yaw so taught good co-ordination and was a lot of fun to fly. It also has the romance factor of the open cockpit. Not many in the UK though, which is good news for my bank balance!

I have very little time in Pitts or Extras, and none solo, but I did find the speed everything happened a bit of a step up from it though. I also don’t have natural G tolerance, and it took me a good few flights to be comfortable with more than 20 minutes of upside downers. I still don’t really like gyroscopic manoeuvres and the power and G/roll rate of an Extra might put people off for life.
Genghis the Engineer wrote:Something similar to what I will be subsequently flying as I develop my skills as an aerobatic pilot.

That’s key, I think.

Will you still have access to the same type after training?

There aren’t, unfortunately, a bunch of aircraft of one type that are universal. Well, perhaps, if you’re deep pocketed, there’s Extra 300s across the country. For lesser types it gets spotty.

Personally - perhaps snobbery? - Aeros in 152... with a yoke? Oh no!
stevebakh liked this
By Lefty
If you learn at somewhere like Waltham, you can get top notch tuition in, Pitts, Extra, Slingsby, chipmunk and even a Tiger Moth. It largely depends on what you want to do after you get the rating?
At Waltham, you can rent most of these types for post training Aero’s. There are also several syndicates operating Aero’s aircraft.

FTAOD, I’m not suggesting that you can do serious Aero’s in all of these a/c types. But they are available should you wish.
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By davef77
I don"t think that there is "one true way". As others have said "it depends on what you are looking to do.

My first aerobatic flight was in a CAP 10, many, many years ago. I recall little about the aeroplane to be honest, the aerobatics made me feel sick, but stuck in my mind. I learned the basics in, first, a T67C/B and later in a Chipmunk and later still in a Yak 52.

I really started learning to fly aerobatics when I started competition flying, in a Steen Skybolt. I then moved on to a Pitts, which I loved, and when I wanted to move up to Advanced competition flying, I bought my current, wonderful, CAP 231 EX.

I can see the argument that flying less specialised aeroplanes teaches some good habits. It also makes you appreciate the performance of the more hard-core, dedicated aerobatic aeroplanes more when you get to them, I think.

However, I am not sure how much difference it makes. If you are an unusual, nerdy sort of person, like me and are committed/obsessed enough to progress through the upper levels of competition flying, then you are going to HAVE to learn energy management sooner or later whatever you fly. Even if you are flying a Pitts or an Extra (or a CAP). It is different to the energy management problems of flying a T67 or even a Cessna, but it is still a problem that you must address.

If you aren't the obsessive aerobatic pilot, and just want to tick something off your "bucket-list" (and why not?) then you may as well get at least a flavour of the real experience in something like a Pitts or Extra. Personally I think that every pilot should fly a Pitts at least once just to see what flying can really be like 8) (I do love a Pitts and think it spoils you for other aeroplanes).

My only reservation is that there is a danger that in flying something with fairly high-performance, like a Pitts or an Extra, will you be so overwhelmed by the performance that it may get in the way of you taking-in the joyful experience of flying upside-down and hurtling towards the ground. 8)
stevebakh liked this
By Balliol
I think one of the key differentiators when learning aeros is fixed vs variable pitch prop, it makes a real difference to the approach to manoeuvres and handling, and possibly whether you take a more flowing or aggressive [generalising massively] style. Whatever you go for, make sure you get some good quality instruction and properly explore the incipient and full spin. Good luck and enjoy!
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By davef77
Balliol wrote:I think one of the key differentiators when learning aeros is fixed vs variable pitch prop, it makes a real difference to the approach to manoeuvres and handling, and possibly whether you take a more flowing or aggressive [generalising massively] style. Whatever you go for, make sure you get some good quality instruction and properly explore the incipient and full spin. Good luck and enjoy!

I agree that FP/CSP makes a difference, certainly once you get to a certain point in your aerobatic journey. In the early stages though, just the experience of being upside down, rolling looping and stall-turning are enough. Wether you need to manage the throttle or not seems a bit more nuanced to me?

The other BIG differences between, say a Decathalon, Cessna & T67 and something like a Pitts are general control sensitivity, roll-rate and rudder coordination.

All of the controls are almost certainly more powerful than anything else you will have flown. The Pitts (and Extra) are gateway aeroplanes to the seriously high-performance aerobatic machines. Nearly everyone in a carbon super-plane will have flown a Pitts or Extra 200 before they fly in anything with more performance.

The roll-rate in a Pitts (and higher performing machines) means that you need to worry less about coordinating controls in roll. I remember finding rolls on a 45 degree up-line really hard work in my Skybolt, the Pitts made them easy. In part because there is less time for the aeroplane to wander off-line.

The rudder coordination is interesting in a Pitts, every change in anything, attitude, control input, speed needs rudder correction, but only a little bit, because the rudder is very powerful. Most people's first flight in a Pitts is seriously out of balance :)