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Is this the best way to become an aerobatics pilot?

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Is this the best way to become an aerobatics pilot?

Old 11th Mar 2015, 22:21
  #1 (permalink)  
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Join Date: Mar 2015
Location: London
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Is this the best way to become an aerobatics pilot?

I had a flight in a pitts with an aerobatics pilot last weekend and absolutely loved it. I want to own and fly one myself one day (for leisure). This is my plan, is this the best way to do it?

Get an EASA PPL now
After that fly microlights every month or so
Occasionally fly SEP
Prepare for and take proficiency test at end of 2 years (when PPL would expire)
Repeat the above until I have enough money to fly SEP more regularly, then train for aerobatics

A bit of background: I'm 29 and don't have kids yet. I can get the 8k together for the PPL, though it will be a struggle. I feel I should get it under my belt now, so that by the time I have other commitments (family etc.), I can just fly to build on my experience, rather than doing the whole PPL.

What do you think?
gerardflyagain is offline  
Old 12th Mar 2015, 01:46
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Join Date: Jan 2004
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I don't know what the best way is, but I can tell you what I did. Got a PPL and as part of the PPL I did a rating in a Piper Cub. Just after the PPL I did an aerobatic rating in a C152. Then did 50 hours in the Cub in a couple of weeks as part of the hour building process towards my CPL. Once I had my CPL I did a Pitts rating and started flying the Pitts daily for work (joyrides).

If I was to eliminate the irrelevant stuff I'd guess id put it down to 50 hours PPL including tail wheel rating, plus say 20 hours tailwheel consolidation, 10 hours aerobatics, then have a go at the Pitts. They're actually quite easy to fly as long as you respect it and pay attention.
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Old 12th Mar 2015, 02:39
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Join Date: Jan 2004
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All the decent aerobatic airplanes are taildraggers so I would try to do the PPL on a tailwheel aircraft, ideally with an experienced stick and rudder instructor.

As both a aeroplane and aerobatic instructor I would suggest that you walk before you run. The bottom line for a good aerobatic pilot is mastering the foundation maneuvers, all of which are covered before you even solo on your PPL course. Simply put for every second of your initial flight PPL flight training you should be concentrating on making the do what you want it to be doing. This is harder than it sounds as it easy to fall in to the trap of having the aircraft fly you.
Big Pistons Forever is offline  
Old 12th Mar 2015, 11:14
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Join Date: Feb 2007
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If you can manage to free up 8K now, but are not sure you can keep freeing those kinds of funds in a few years time, then you might simply want to forget about it. Here's why:

Just keeping sufficiently current to fly a regular SEP (nosewheel) requires around 12 hours annually. (The legal minimum is actually 12 hours every two years.) That's going to cost around 2000-2500 UKP minimum annually, unless you make an upfront investment in a share or even your own aircraft.

That type of currency is nowhere near enough to fly aerobatics safely and up to a reasonable standard. If you want to be reasonably current on aeros in a basic aeros aircraft such as an R2160, you have to count on at least 30 hours annually. For advanced aeros machines such as a Pitts or Extra, maybe at least 50 hours annually just to stay current and safe for your landings. Remember these are twitchy taildraggers.

If you want to participate in competition aerobatics at the level that these aircraft are able to provide, you may need to fly in excess of 100 hours annually to have any chance of competing. And these aircraft cannot be rented for ~200 UKP per hour anymore...

You do the math and decide whether you can afford that kind of money and whether it's worth it to you - after all you can only spend it once.

I flew competition aerobatics at the Standard level in an R2160 for a number of years. This cost me close to 10KEUR annually for 40 hours of flying. The R2160 got me consistently in the middle of the pack, but to have any chance of winning in that class I'd need to upgrade to a more capable machine such as the Cap 10C or a Pitts. Upgrading would easily double my annual cost, and I decided that that just wasn't worth it.
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Old 12th Mar 2015, 13:37
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Join Date: Jul 2013
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Backpacker, I think you may be being a bit pessimistic in your assessment mate. I did my PPL on Beagle Pup, then transitioned straight onto the Pitts S2A. It was a pretty steep learning curve but I had good instructors. I then started competing at standard with less than 100 hrs in my logbook.
I reckoned at that time on doing about 20 to 30 hours per year because it was all I could afford it was however nearly all aerobatics and I was quite young so picked things up a lot quicker than I do now !
if the OP is committed first step is to find a good aero instructor even to help whilst doing the PPL. Hopefully spending capacity will improve over time……but warning aeros becomes seriously addictive !!
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Old 12th Mar 2015, 15:37
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Join Date: Jun 2003
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If money is a problem, staying current in a Pitts will be a BIG problem.

I love flying the Pitts but it a real handful to land. The FBO where I fly has a 30 day currency limit for soloing it, and even that is generous. Even when I flew it regularly (2-3 times a month), landings were always something to take seriously. (Well, they always are, but lets say it was a big relief to get in my 182 to fly home). Now I only fly it every couple of months, I would really not want to land it solo.

Of course you can say, you don't have to fly a Pitts to fly acro. But if your experience of acro has been in a Pitts, you will find an Aerobat or Citabria VERY tame, I promise you. The Pitts is an incredible aerobatic machine.
n5296s is online now  
Old 12th Mar 2015, 16:00
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Join Date: Sep 2006
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I think there's a bit of a myth about flying aeros and how you need to be some kind of ace. Guys at our club regularly train to do aeros straight after PPL. We have some low hours guys doing comps. It's not my cup of tea personally, I used to do them in gliders and powered just ain't the same, but it's a great way to improve your handling skills as a new pilot.
thing is offline  
Old 12th Mar 2015, 17:12
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Join Date: Oct 1999
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Nothing improves your handling skills like aeros do. But it's not by any means difficult; however, the basis for aeros has to be solid stick and rudder skills and understanding.

So, how to become an aeros pilot:

1)Do a PPL.

2)Ensure you have a good understanding of and can demonstrate good basic stick and rudder skills. You may have this immediately post PPL, you may require extra experience to consolidate skills to get to that state (I did), or you may require extra tuition to polish basic skills.

3)Enroll with an aerobatics instructor. Satisfy him/her that you are competent and safe in aerobatic manouvres.

That's it!
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Old 12th Mar 2015, 17:27
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Join Date: Dec 2010
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1) Reduce Power
2) Pull back on the stick
3) Full Rudder
sherburn2LA is online now  
Old 12th Mar 2015, 19:47
  #10 (permalink)  
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Join Date: Mar 2015
Location: London
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Thanks for the replies everyone. I hope to earn enough as I age that I can afford a (share in a) Pitt when I'm ready for it. I feel like I just need to start the PPL one way or another now though, otherwise I'll never get there.
gerardflyagain is offline  
Old 12th Mar 2015, 20:07
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Join Date: Sep 2006
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29 is no age, many people don't start flying until their 50s and 60s. In fact I know a guy who started flying not many years ago a lot older than you who went on to buy a Pitts.
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