Help from a Coach
There is no substitute for instruction to learn to safely perform aerobatic figures. You must learn not only how to safely perform aerobatic figures, but especially learn how to recover from the unusual attitudes in which you can find yourself when you make a mistake. Only after you are a safe and confident aerobatic pilot, you can prepare to participate in your first contest.
The challenge is that you can't see from the cockpit how your figures appear to the judges on the ground. The best way to earn a respectable score in a contest is to get feedback from a judge's perspective. An experienced competitor, ideally one who has qualified as a judge and has contest experience as a pilot, can give you feedback during practice on an air-to-air radio frequency. If you're lucky, you might be able to arrange for coaching from an experienced competitor/judge in your local practice area.
Chapter 67 sponsors a structured practicing under the careful eye of a judge: aerobatic "camp". At Chapter 67 camp sessions, you'll practice figures and sequences in the Ephrata Airport aerobatic box in which we hold the Apple Cup and Apple Turnover contests. While you fly your figures and sequences, you receive real-time coaching and a post flight briefing from your "critiquer", an experienced competitor and judge.
Note: camp is not instruction in safely performing aerobatic figures. A pilot who has not already received instruction and can safely perform acro figures will not be eligible to attend camp.
There are usually two three-day camp sessions within a single week in either May or June. Camp dates are announced early in the calendar year on the Event Calendar; Chapter Members and attendees at previous camps receive an e-mail announcement. Camp enrollment usually fills very quickly after the announcement and a waiting list is maintained. The enrollment fee is non-refundable, although if there is a waiting list for a session you can sell your enrollment to a pilot on that list.Aerobatic Camp Frequently Asked Questions
What will I do at the camp?
You will have three 15 minute flights in the box each day. You will fly figures and/or segments of sequences pre-arranged with the critiquer before the flight.
As you fly, the critiquer, who will be at the same judge’s line we use for our contests, will provide a running critique. Then, between flights, you will discuss the flight with the your critiquer and decide what to do in the next flight.
How do I know when I should be in the box?
A daily schedule will be published showing each pilot’s time slots together with the critiquer assigned to that time.
It’s important to remember that during your times, you “own” the box. That means that someone else owns the box immediately before and immediately after your flight.
With 11 pilots a day and reasonable breaks for the critiquers we can’t make up time. So if you miss your slot or are late in the box, the time is gone. It’s up to you to be ready to enter the box when called in by the critiquer.
All this will be covered in detail at the briefing the afternoon before camp flights begin (usually Sunday afternoon for a M-T-W camp, Wednesday afternoon for a Th-F-S camp).
Are three 15 minute flights enough?
We all asked this question before our first camp. The answer is emphatically yes! The experience of our critiquers and other trainers who have watched literally thousands of flights is that pilots don’t learn much if anything in a fourth or subsequent flight.
And at the end of the day, you will know you have had a workout. In fact, it is not unusual for some pilots to opt out of the final fight on the third day.
Who are the critiquers?
Past critiquers have included Lew Shattuck, Les Mitchell, Mac Engh and Bob Higbee.
Lew and Les are unlimited pilots. Lew won the unlimited category at Fond du Lac when it was a national championship event and has participated in training US Teams for the WAC. Mac and Bob flew Advanced for many years before retiring. Mac flew unlimited in his last year.