In 1965, I attended the AMA Nats that were contested at Naval Air Station Willow Grove in Pennsylvania. I didn’t compete, and went specifically to watch the Walker Trophy Flyoff.
This flyoff features the Junior, Senior, and Open winners in Control Line (CL) Precision Aerobatics. The winner of the flyoff is crowned as the overall CL Aerobatics Champion and gets to take home the prestigious Walker Trophy for a year. Although the Open Stunt winner usually wins, there have been several occasions where either the Junior Champion or the Senior Champion has prevailed.
The three participants in the flyoff at the 1965 Nats were Open Champion Bob Gialdini, Senior Champion Gerry Cipra, and Junior Champion, Dawn Cosmillo. Dawn was the only woman ever to win an official National CL Aerobatics championship up until that point, and she held that distinction until 1989.
At the Nats in Pasco, Washington, Sharon Garrison became the second woman to win in the Junior CL Aerobatics event, flying in the Walker Trophy Flyoff against Open winner Jimmy Casale and Senior winner Nat Gifford.
For the past few years, the CL Stunt community has watched with pride and pleasure as a vibrant, energetic, friendly, and extremely enthusiastic young woman named Samantha Hines steadily moved up through the ranks. She started out flying in the unofficial Nats Beginner event, and won that in 2013.
This past year, Sam, as she’s known to the CL Aerobatics community, displayed a giant leap in flying ability and won the official Junior CL Precision Aerobatics event at the 2014 Nats in Muncie, Indiana, becoming only the third woman in the event’s history to achieve that title.
I’ve watched Sam’s progress and even coached her a little on how to perform square maneuvers. Her flying has steadily improved, but she made an astounding jump in piloting skill this year.
Sam flew a non-flap-equipped model that I originally designed as a basic Stunt trainer called the Hole Shot. At my suggestion, she added an extra rib bay to each wing to slightly lower the wing loading and increase the airplane’s aerobatic capability. She calls her new model the Long Shot.
Sam insisted on building her own airplane for the Nats, and did a great job, but the resulting model was slightly heavier than it should have been for its size. It had to be flown carefully in order to not stall it at the corners of the squares. It also could not easily fly rule-book-size maneuvers without the tendency to “mush,” and required a deft touch at the handle to achieve a clean-looking pattern.
Sam flew two very clean patterns to win the Junior crown over fellow competitor, Ben Mills, and then went on to fly three more extremely clean patterns in the Walker Trophy Flyoff against the Open Champion David Fitzgerald.
You could actually sense that Sam was flying her Long Shot to the edge of its capabilities, but stopped short of adding too much control and going “over the edge.” She has become an adept and respected pilot!
Sam didn’t outscore David, but I predict—and many others do too—that if she continues at her current rate of improvement and proficiency, it will not take too long for her to capture that big trophy.
In an outstanding display of good sportsmanship and camaraderie, David invited Sam to join him in the center of the circle to watch his last Walker Trophy flight from the pilot’s perspective. She was thrilled, and you could also see her studying David’s technique as he flew. She’s a sharp young lady!
Reverse Wingover, Part II
I left off last time with an explanation of the Reverse Wingover, and I got to the most critical turn from the first wingover element to when inverted flight was made. I hope that you have had time to “dry fly” that part of the maneuver and maybe have even tried it with your model at the field—and I hope you still have the model in one piece …
I suggested that this maneuver be started with your body positioned with your right shoulder facing upwind if you are right-handed. Left-handed pilots who normally fly in a clockwise direction should reverse this. In this body position, you can perform the entire maneuver without moving your feet.
You’ve performed the most difficult part of the maneuver (the inverted pullout), and you are now flying the inverted portion of the maneuver, which extends back to the original pull-up point. This next turn should be made at exactly the same point where the first turn was made. Judges will look for this, so choose a point at which to make both turns, and then hit that point twice!
After you’ve made the second turn and the model arcs over the top of the circle toward the inside turn back to level flight, pilots commonly relax. The most difficult elements are complete, and all that’s left is a simple inside turn back to level flight to finish the maneuver.
This is where many points are given back! Don’t relax or lose focus until the maneuver is complete. A casual approach to the last turn frequently results in a bobble, an under-turn, or an over-turn.
As with many of the maneuvers in the pattern, with practice the Reverse Wingover can be performed easily and consistently—until the wind starts to blow. In wind, it is critical to make the turns to the vertical climbs at the exact upwind point of the circle. If you miss in either direction, the model will “crab” as it climbs.
You will have to induce control to make the model stay in a vertical path, because the wind will tend to blow it off course. There is no fix for this after it happens. The only sure way to avoid it is to pull up at exactly the upwind point on the circle.
While I am discussing the path of the two arcs over the top of the circle in this maneuver, I want to mention that setting a perfect arc that doesn’t lean in one direction or the other is also extremely important.
This is where a coach is essential. Work with your coach to achieve perfectly vertical lines in the wingover arcs. Practicing alone only ensures that mistakes will become ingrained and be difficult to correct.
As I mentioned in the January 2015 “Control Line Stunt” column, the most difficult aspect of the Reverse Wingover is perfecting that turn from the first wingover arc to inverted flight. There are no shortcuts or tricks—only practice and persistence will yield a great Reverse Wingover that will make the judges sit up and take notice.
When they see a great first act in your pattern, they are likely to be ready to reward you richly for the ensuing show.
Precision Aerobatics Model Pilots Association (PAMPA)