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Vans RV Aerobatics – How to get Started

So, you’ve built or bought an RV and are interested in getting into Aerobatics but you not quite sure how.

The Sport Aerobatics Club of South Africa (SAC) can help you on the right track, I know contacting these guys may seem a bit daunting but one must remember they all started out with no experience and bucket loads of enthusiasm, just like you. The SAC has embarked on a series of training camps for newbies to this amazing sport, Helm Ludwig will be handling things in the Western Cape, Mike Stark in Natal, Conrad Botha in the Free State, Barrie Eeles in the Johannesburg area and Gary Glasson will take care of the Pretorian’s. The next Training Camp will be an International one and will take place in Swakopmund in Namibia from 14 to 17 November.

The SAC has, in addition, recently created an exclusive RV category at aerobatic competitions, that has now been emulated in the USA. The first RV category National Champion was crowned at the SAC Nationals held at Klerksdorp earlier this year.

These Training Camps are by no means exclusively for RV pilots, anyone with a passion to learn and a keen interest in sport aerobatics will be welcomed with open arms. For purposes of this article I will be focusing on mainly aerobatic capable Vans RV aircraft.

Why should one go to the effort of getting an aerobatics rating?

Firstly, well flown aerobatics is poetry in motion and the feeling of pulling off a perfectly executed manoeuvre is indescribable. To experience this, you will definitely need instruction from a very competent aerobatics instructor. A good instructor will teach you true finesse with regards to energy management which will enable you to fly your RV in a larger envelope SAFELY!!

Until you have strung manoeuvres together in a confined piece of airspace you are not really flying aerobatics. Learning from a fraternity of people that know and want to help is always a massive plus and it will ensure that you emerge a better aviator in general. But more importantly it is great pity, almost sacrilege, to own or fly an aerobatic capable RV and not do aerobatics!

To earn your aerobatics rating you will need to become confident in certain basic manoeuvres, Spin, Loop, Stall turn and Rolls. Once you and your instructor are confident that you have mastered these basic manoeuvres, he will send you out to do a solo demonstration and if all goes well you will be signed out and receive a provisional aerobatic rating which is valid for 12 months.

To progress to a full aerobatic rating, you will be required to attend a competition, where your competence to be ratified by judges, you will be required to score above 70%. Succeed, and you will be the proud owner of a full aerobatic rating which will be valid for 24 months.

Now back to your aircraft, what makes the RV a great sport aerobat?

All RV’s possess an amazing speed range and therefore energy is abundant, couple this with great control harmony and low operating cost and you have the ideal lead-in aerobatic aircraft. Even the most basic RV with Fixed pitch prop and carburetted engine is capable great basic aerobatics.

There are however certain things that must be kept in mind, the aerobatic gross weight in certain cases is very limiting especially in RV4’s and RV6’s. An RV has energy way beyond its strength, concept of Vₐ must be kept in mind, always bear in mind Vₐ does not only apply in the pitching plane, be careful of “Rolling Loads” you can’t feel them.

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All this will be explained in detail at the SAC Training Camps, so if you feel like joining this wonderful sport and spending time with like minded passionate people please contact Gary, Eugene or Trevor and they will give you details on the next camp and if you put together a group of interested individuals they will create a training camp for you.

Gary Glasson 083 378 1471

Eugene du Preez 082 854 3724

Trevor Warner 083 300 8730


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