Monday, September 25, 2006

Flying the Pitts Model 12

I have to tell you about one of the coolest flights I've ever been on! A few days ago, I got to go flying in one of the greatest aerobatic airplanes of all time... the Pitts Model 12. It is incredible.

My friend Larry flies a Model 12 and generously offered to take me up for a spin, literally! We started by climbing into the macho biplane with a massive M-14P radial engine. We strapped on the parachute, then our five point aerobatic harness. It really feels like you are strapping the plane to yourself as you cinch down the belts.

Already, I feel like a hero!

Larry climbed into the back seat and started up the manly Russian engine. After a short taxi to the runway, we took off, and what a takeoff it was. We were airborne within a few hundred feet and climbed out at about a 60 degree angle. The Model 12 weighs less than 2000 pounds with Larry and myself. And the engine puts out 1600 pounds of thrust! Compare that to similar aerobatic planes that have 800 pounds of thrust with Lycoming engines. Needless to say, it was amazing.

A few miles from the airport, Larry turned the airplane over to me and we were soon doing aileron rolls and having a blast. I was able to do most of the flying as Larry coached me through hammer heads, loops, barrell rolls, steep turns, and inverted flat spins (actually he had to recover from the inverted spin because I had never done one before).

After what seemed like 28 seconds, it was time to head back. It had really been almost 20 minutes, but I wanted more. That airplane is the best airplane I have ever flown. Quick responses, fast, light, nimble, maneuverable, powerful, great visibility, and smoothness are some words that come to mind as a pilot. There is nothing that I want to do in an aerobatic airplane that the Model 12 can't do. And that's saying a lot, because my goal is to be the US National Aerobatic Champion. It might not happen in the next year or two, but it will happen.

I'll keep you posted on my aerobatic progress. But in the meantime, just know that Curtis Pitts left us with one of the most beautiful, powerful, and amazing airplanes of all time with the Model 12.