Category Archives: Aerobatics

Spin Cycle

There are Records for Everything

Spinning an airplane is an essential part of aerobatics.  It can be fun but has it’s limits.

Suderman, who is scheduled to perform in this weekend’s air show, attempted to break the world record for inverted flat spins in one attempt Thursday. The record is 78 spins, he said.

Unfortunately, total rotations were 64.  There’s always next time., provided he avoids the low altitude record.


A Risky Business

I enjoyed watching the  husband and wife aerobatic and wingwalking team the last two years at Airventure. First time I’d seen sword fighting in the air. I know many guys who can’t talk their wife into sitting in a small airplane, much less asking that she stand on top of the wing. Unfortunately, Airshows have inherent risks.  Kyle and Amanda Franklin were seriously injured after his Waco “Mystery Ship” caught fire in flight during a performance at the Brownsville/South Padre Island Air Fiesta.


Kyle is the son of Jimmy Franklin and Amanda is the daughter of Bobby Younkin, both of whom were killed in an airshow accident July  2005. It was a midair collision while performing the “Master of Disaster” routine and  Kyle was announcing the show when it happened. Just a few days afterward, Kyle proposed to Amanda.  They have done the “Pirated Skies” wingwalk show together for several years.

Amanda’s brother, Matt, also an airshow performer, said Kyle did everything possible to allow Amanda to climb back in the cockpit, then set the plane down in the only place he had, into the wind, missing the large trees and then tried to get Amanda out of the burning airplane.

Both of the Franklins were aware of the risks and potential for snakes in the cockpit. I suspect neither would want to do anything else. Thoughts and prayers to you both for a speedy recovery.

Over the Fence

Some of the best photos of planes coming over the fence that I’ve seen. (click link for slideshow).

(h/t to Rob – great stuff)


Last week’s viral video  on YouTube shows a wing collapsing on a Rans S-9 Chaos (appropriately named) during an air show performance in Argentina. The pilot deployed the airplane’s full frame ballistic recovery system (BRS) parachute seconds after the wing separated from the plane. I didn’t think it possible to get into trouble with a 47hp Rotax engine but I stand corrected. On several blogs, the consensus was that the pilot exceeded the aircraft’s negative G limit.  We may never know if that was true, but another pilot who without a BRS didn’t fare as well when he lost both the wing and the tail of his Rans S-9.

 He definitely tried to jump out of his plane,” Poster said. “His hand was still on the ring and his smaller chute, the one that comes out and pulls the main chute, was laying out, about four or five feet behind him. He was about 15 feet from where the plane came down.”

 That’s something you just don’t want to see. Important pieces of the plane disappearing while concentrating on your next manuever.  If there ever was an advertisement for a full plane parachute, this was it. Parachutes are generally good to have when performing aerobatics.  Although not required for solo flying, it’s better to have one and not need it then to need it and not have one. Emergency egress is a nifty option too, where you can quickly jettison the canopy or the whole door with the pull of a handle.  Hard to do if you’ve lost the wing and enter a spin.

 Lucky it wasn’t an engine fire though. Use of a BRS during a fire would be a really bad idea, allowing the plane to float slowly to earth as fire renders the aircraft a giant toasted marshmallow before you reach the ground.  

Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.

Disneyland for Aviators

Airventure began with rain, mud and more rain. Sploshkosh and Aquaventure were used to describe aviation’s biggest event. The most challenging ever according to organizers. Not surprisingly, attendance was down early in the week and fewer planes made the trip. The annual mass arrivals of Bonanzas, Cessnas, and Mooneys just didn’t happen. The phenomenal volunteers rallied, pumping out water, laying sod and bringing in woodchips and it was still pretty great.

 There’s something for everyone who loves aviation. If you were in the market for a new plane, it was one gigantic motor mall with every manufacturer represented. If you want a carbon fiber Cub with Tundra tires, they had it. Aerobatic planes? Pick from a range from top performance to build your own. I was intrigued by the amphibious Icon A5.It was all there, from low and slow ultralights to rocket powered helos and single pilot jets.

 There were hundreds of exhibits, seminars; panel discussions and workshops. It meant choosing among the “must see” since there were up to 30 events all taking place in a single one hour time slot. In between you can admire thousands of planes of every type and description.  Showplanes, Homebuilts, Vintage, Warbirds, Ultralights, Seaplanes and rotorcraft. Who wouldn’t be impressed by rows of P-51’s and T-28’s? Rare planes became commonplace. They had four B-17’s! One guy even proposed on a Flying Fortress.-she said yes. (My wife would have clobbered me if I’d tried that). I also spent a little time with Glacier Girl, whose good looks drew many admirers.

An air show was held each afternoon but planes were in the sky all the time. A flight of F-15’s roared overhead while I waited in line for a sandwich. Look- there goes an F-18 in full grunt. Where did that V-22 Osprey come from? Wow, a flight of T-33’s. A steady stream of planes were arriving and departing until the airshow began.

 Mostly, the pilgrimage to Oshkosh was about hanging out with fellow pilots and aviation fans. I was among friends. Some close and another half million I had yet to meet.

Oshkosh has been named a ‘Tier 1 Event” by the U.S. Navy for its centennial celebration of naval aviation in 2011. A good reason to clear your calendar from July 25-31 next year.

Here’s a one minute video summary : Airventure 2010.

See You at Airventure

If you like anything related to flying you need to be here. This clip explains why:

10,000 planes; 578,000 aviation enthusiasts; 750 exhibitors and 1,000 demonstrations. Just to name a few: 

  • C.E. “Bud” Anderson, Jack Roush, Jim Hagedorn with two Old Crow P-51s
  • D-Day paratroopers Col. Ed Shames and 1st Lt. Fred Bahlau with the C-47 Tico Belle
  • “Max Effort” Air Show featuring DC-3/C-47 formation flights and aerial displays 
  • Christina Olds with the Collings Foundation F-4.
  • The Lonestar Flight Museum’s B-17  
  • Buck & Bill Patillo with 2 P-51s, Sweet & Lovely and Little Rebel
  • World Symposium on Electric Aircraft by GE Aviation
  • Bob Hoover with the Vintage Wings of Canada’ s F-86
  • Salute to Veterans with aerial demonstrations 
  • The Douglas AD-1 Skyraider
  • Daily Air Shows and even one at night

July 26th through August 1st in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. What’s not to like?

The Blue’s

Last week’s vacation to Michigan included the whole family, eight- including two grandkids under one roof, on Glen Lake. No TV or connectivity of any kind which would place everyone on electronics withdrawal despite the presence of two laptops.  The book “Fighter Pilot-Memoirs of Robin Olds” filled the void with beach reading material and I was able to drag pursuade the entire crew to head to Traverse City to endure enjoy an airshow. At least one of us really liked it. A heritage flight with A-10; F-22 and F-4 (flying Phantoms are rare these days), aerobatic demos of F-22, A-10, Pitts and Extra and the Blue Angels  as the finale. Fellow aviator Steve caught it on camera and it looked exactly like this:

The Blue Angel’s announced their new aircrew , rotating new members into the team every year, including new commanding officer  David Koss.