Welcome back everyone!
Last time we left it with Khouri wobbling around the skies thinking he was IceMan and everyone else was a F5 target dummy to give the bird too… After a busy couple of days I managed to get some time together and fly Khouri around a little more and his progress was good and it gave me a little wing practice as well. Hell if I can stay on his wing when he is flying like Michael J Fox is in control then when I hooked up with Rock again should be no problem! Oh boy was I wrong…
Rock and I hook up on the Saturday morning as normal and we start up the L39’s and form up for take off out of Gudata, after rolling and taking off we bank right and head out over the sea with me in slot. Increasing the power to almost complete open (Leads rarely use full power as wing pilots need a little extra in reserve to maintain position) we go up into a loop only for it to fall apart on top s the speed was too low. Suddenly and as unexpected as the girlfriend letting rip Rock ejects! “This is balls, back to the sukhois!” is all I managed to get out of him. After abit of swearing about the lack of power in the L39’s we are both at Sochi and spawning in Sukhoi 27’s. Rolling out and taking off in formation Rock says that he wants to spend abit of time with me getting used to flying on wing in this, I was certainly up for this so as eager as a teenager on his way to a junk food store I slide out onto wing and start getting some references on the Sukhoi.
I had seen storm fly this aircraft many times while I have been in slot and its not until you are trying to do it that you realise quite how close the lead aircraft appears to be to your cockpit and how small the margin for error is! Starting slowly Rock and I head north up into the valleys so we can get some practice away from the busy skies of Sochi. After 5 minutes or so we are already in the mountains and in adherence with Rocks phobia of everything above 500ft we were low and dirty in the mountains. At this point I still cant see anything but I know we are quite low on 2 counts, first I can no longer see any sky and 2nd I swear that I saw a goat jump over Rocks wing tip…
Now I have a bit of a theory that there are 2 kinds of wing pilots, left and right. There are genuinely few who are comfy doing both. I am a right wing pilot as is Rock and Fadec. Skyhawk is a left wing pilot along with Storm. Although we can all do abit on the other side (the others much better then I!) its just a prefered side. When doing turns I prefer to be on top (Behave) rather then having the lead aircraft turn into me, having spoken to a few pilots it seems to be a common denominator.
Now me being the jolly character that I am can never pass up the chance to wind Rock up, So in a very subtle display I turned on my very patriotic smoke haha! Now when Rock sees this its like offering a chocolate cake to a diabetic, he knows he shouldn’t but he cant resist So rather then starting softly in the more powerful Sukhois we start going into 90 degree wingovers and banking turns. I was getting thrown about abit but the time spent on wing the other day really helped as I knew abit of what to expect. Right turns were still a bit of an issue and it was taking a couple of goes to get the bank angle correct, Rock was continually saying that I was out of bank and using the rudder to adjust. Its harder then it looks!
Now, alot of the people reading this thread are Aerobatic pilots or people learning aerobatics and I will ask you to slow down for a second and think back to the first time you tried flying an aircraft on wing with someone. All those little corrections that are now automatic and instinctive, remember how every single one of them seemed to happen about half a second too late? Remember? Good….
I would love to be able to say that I just clung to Rocks wing like velcro and that no matter what he did I was there with him, but then you wouldnt believe me anyway! I managed to stick with him more and more as the flight went on. The problem was at about this point I think Rock started to get a little bored with trimming hedges with multi million dollar jets and starts wanting to do loops….oh boy.
The first one didnt go too well with a very quick “Two’s out” call followed by what seemed like an eternity of laughing from Rock, 2nd go didnt go much better. It was a strange sensation that although I was sure I was keeping the stick straight as I pulled back I could feel myself sliding out more and more right and then banking to try and stay in, then you add more pull as you go over the top and before I know it I am in a garden centre in New York state and Rock is coming out of his loop straight level and wondering where I buggered off to. The third time went better, falling back abit but I was still there! Wh00t!
Just as I am getting the hang of this Rock says lets try a roll, now remember what I was saying about Right and Left wing pilots here, Luckily Rock was feeling kind and we were doing left rolls, First time round again I was gone and doing a quick orbit of the moon before rejoining , After a walkthrough of how to get into the roll we did it again and although I wasnt with it and I was behind the roll itself at least I stayed in the same post code. 2-3 more goes and I was getting the hang of it abit, same as when I was first doing turns in Part 7 it was the initial uptake on the roll that was throwing me out then I was spending the rest of the turn/roll playing catch up which any aerobatic pilot will tell you is a bad idea from the start! If you are not in the correct place before the start then you will never look right from the outside and it will never fly smooth for the rest. All in all, start well to end well.
So after about 40-45 minutes of us flying around we pull up into another loop and just as we reach vertical my heart skipped about 4 beats for the following reason, “lets make this a clover loop” Ah Crap… “Let go right” … Double Crap….
I dont know how, I dont know what happened but it actually came off really rather well! I think Rock was as shocked as I was! I was still in position at the end of the clover loop, this was the end of my first aerobatic adventure on wing and we headed back to Sochi to bring the session to an end.
Next time, We have time trials and new rides to try out!
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