By Dane Laing
As a young boy, I always dreamed of taking to the air, when I left school I was adamant to start my flying career as soon as possible and was fortunate enough to realise this at a young age.
I now have amassed over 5600 hours and currently flying for a local airline but one of my aviation dreams had still not been realised until fairly recently that is. I’ve always wanted to delve into the adrenaline-filled world of aerobatics and thanks to the dedicated guys at the Sport Aerobatics Club (SAC) this is finally becoming a reality.
The journey began when a beautiful Vans RV4 appeared on the market, my father decided to purchase the machine giving me access to an aerobatic capable aircraft. The RV range of aircraft is the perfect all-round aircraft that allows you to perform “gentlemen aerobatics" with some going very far in professional aerobatics.
I had been shown some basic aerobatic manoeuvres in the RV4 but had never had any formal aero training. The only manoeuvre I was comfortable to perform on my own was an aileron roll but craved more and needed some proper training in the aircraft.
The SAC arranged a number of RV aerobatic training camps throughout 2019 and word got around in the RV Fraternity, all very positive I must add. When I heard about a camp being hosted early in 2020, pre-Covid days, I jumped at the opportunity.
The camp consisted of two days of thorough briefings as well as a number of flights with an aerobatic instructor going through the various basic and slightly advanced aerobatic manoeuvres. Unfortunately, due to work commitments, I was only able to attend one day of training and was unable to complete the course. I did, however, learn a lot through my instructor, Elton Bondi, and left feeling a lot more confident and with immense respect for aerobatic flying.
A few months had passed since the aero camp with no real practice from my side due in part to the restriction on general aviation during lock-down, my confidence had all but disappeared.
Fortunately, a close family friend, Jaco Van Zyl, who has been flying competition aerobatics in his RV7 for a number of years, reignited my passion. He took me up in his RV7 and coached me through the basic the aero manoeuvres, which allowed me to regain my confidence, I then went out and practised in the RV4.
Jaco then reintroduced me to Gary Glasson and Eugene du Preez from the SAC and with their help and a lot of “crit" was able to iron out some of my bad habits and greatly improve my flying. I was finally signed out by Nigel Hopkins to perform the graduate sequence allowing me to finally pursue my dream of flying competition aerobatics. I hope to graduate to Sportsman Level at the next coaching clinic which will be held at Kitty Hawk on the 7th and 8th of August.
One thing I can say for sure is, “no amount of flying experience will help you when starting aerobatic flying”. It is flying on another level, a level that I would highly recommend to any pilot. Aerobatic flying has opened up another world for me in aviation. The camaraderie in the aerobatic fraternity is unbelievable. Everyone is there to help make you a better pilot. If you own or have access to an RV you would do very well to join one of the clinics planned and step out into a new world of flying.