Saturday, August 06, 2016

Flying Lesson #68 - If Flying is A Bowl of Cherries, This Is The Pitts!

Lesson #68 promised to be special indeed, and even sweeter after the washout of the morning lesson.
I would be flying this:

The Pitts S-2B, a biplane with 260 horsepower of aerobatic awesomeness.
Since part of the ACS is that students need to have demoed to them the different types of stalls, including the cross-control stall that tends to lead into a spin, we decided to do it in style.

In fact, instead of sitting passively and having the stalls and spins demonstrated to me, I would be the one doing them!

Don, a top-notch aerobatic performer and instructor would be in the back seat and I would be in the front.

I was the second of two students to go up with Don today. The first one came back looking a little green and he told Don to do the same takeoff he had done for him. . . oh boy.

First you have to put on your parachute.

Then you need to strap on the plane.

You actually ratchet the lap belt tight and pull down the shoulder straps and it's a rather tight space.

Then comes the headset and leather soft helmet so it doesn't hurt when you bounce off the canopy.

Then the engine start and taxi out, this is my video of the other student, but you get the idea:

Then we were off.  Good taxi, which Don let me try - let me tell you, it's very different in a tail dragger especially one with the rudder this one has got. Then a quick runup and we were off on 27R - the tower knows Don: N69SZ requesting tight departure to the north.  Tower:  N69SZ - for you, no problem, approved short departure and right turn departure.

So with engine to full throttle we hustled down the runway, and Don then held it  just above the runway until the airspeed really built up and at 120 knots did a zoming climbimg turn to the right!  This lesson was starting out fun.

Then I got the controls and I flew us outside of KPTK's Delta airspace, found an area clear of clouds and started maneuvers.

First I did some stalls and stall recoveries which again were quite different from a Cessna 172 and need a lot more rudder during the break to keep it level.

Then on to the spins.

The first spin I chopped the throttle held the nose back and then gave it full left rudder at the stall - I didn't have the stick all the way back so we went into a spiral followed by a wicked spin.

I got it under control with opposite rudder and neutral ailerons to counter the spin and once the spn was broken we were still pointing right at the ground. I then pulled out, and my hauling back on the stick gave us a 4G climb!  That was intense, my first spin ever.

Don had me do it a few more times, starting with the stick all the way back and I got pretty darn good at spin recoveries, with only 2G pullouts and it was a lot of fun.

I'm proud to say I neither screamed like a little girl nor blew chunks in any of the maneuvers, but after 3 sets of spins I was starting to get a bit queasy, and after the 4th set of spins I was more so - all that spinning around with the earth rushing to meet you will do that.  So I flew us back to Pontiac and Don took it from final onto Runway 36 and taxied on back to the flight school.

In short, flying a Pitts S-2B is just about the most fun you can have with your clothes on.

That's .6 of tail-dragger, high-performance, aerobatic awesomeness.

While I don't need any more for my private pilot cert, some more flights with Don to work on recovery from unusual attitudes and some more aerobatics in a Pitts S-2B is definitely in order.


drjim said...

A buddy of mine back in Illinois had a Pitts two-holer and took me up in it a couple of times.

Absolutely freaking amazing compared to my 150 Aerobat!

Aaron said...

drjim: Yes, the Pitts is just incredible. Flying it was an amazing experience. An Aerobat isn't shabby either and must be quite a treat to fly.

juvat said...

Just out of curiousity, what did that .6 of fun set you back? (I might have to track one down.)

Harry Flashman said...

Never flew one of those. Sounds like an interesting ride. At least you got some spins under your belt and got a ride in a classic to boot.

Aaron said...

juvat: It was $145 and worth it!

Harry Flashman: It was quite the thrill. Very cool to actually experience spins, they were a lot faster going round than I thought they would be. The recovery technique worked perfectly and I did it right each time (albeit a little enthusiastically on the pull-out from the first one) so that's a confidence booster.