2017 East Coast Aerobatic Contest wrap-up

We had catastrophically-perfect weather for this year’s installment of the East Coast Aerobatic Contest in Warrenton, VA (KHWY). It’s not lost on us this perfection while seemingly the rest of the hemisphere is reeling from the catastrophically bad weather.

I finished 2nd in Sportsman among a talented group. I’m happily surprised but did make satisfying improvements to my hammerheads during practice. I also got some good coaching on flying the Cuban Eight and that helped since it’s the highest-weighted figure in this years’ Known program.
Full results online in IAC’s contest database: 2017 East Coast Aerobatic Contest full results

Thanks, as always, to Julie Artz (Youtube: horsemoney) for coming out to play with us and sharing video. It’s always cool to see this relatively-solo pursuit from a fresh perspective. And it makes sharing with friends and family easy!
My second contest flight (of three). The judges liked it; scored 2nd out of 8.


This quick blurb about the contest appeared in the Fauquier Times Saturday. A picture of me from earlier in the week was conveniently available courtesy of the airport management and got included. Image credit: Alex Hrapunov
Look up! East Coast Aerobatic Contest takes flight at Warrenton-Fauquier Airport

I posted a few pre-contest pics on Instagram.


Much fun was had, including a sunset formation flight with Pete Muntean in the Super Decathlon (with Amy Wolfgang taking pictures and video, thanks Amy!) and Mark Meredith in his Super Chipmunk.


These two shots courtesy of Alex Hrapunov – tmr2rwb@yahoo.com
Thanks for coming out Alex! We appreciate all the time you spent with us and that you’re willing to share your great images.

start-up for taxi

Stunning biplane video

I came across this on biplaneforum.com. I don’t know the creators but they are to be applauded. It’s visually and creatively stunning and the music choice works perfectly. Of course the gorgeous airplanes and magical flying abilities of Skip Stewart and Kyle Franklin don’t hurt either.

Full screen and high volume is the way to watch this one.


Kyle and Skip from MikeL on Vimeo.


First flight in the Pitts S-1S

It’s official. And it’s no April Fools joke, despite the date. Two days ago I successfully took off, flew, and landed my airplane…several times! And what a perfect day for it. Clear, dry, and light winds. I was really nervous, I’m not used to being that nervous, but it was mostly good “sense enhancing” stress. I was tight for the first part of the pitts s1sflight but slowly relaxed. By the time I came back to Lee I relaxed enough to not screw up my first approach to the relatively short, narrow strip I’ll call home. (It’s too bad I don’t have cockpit video of that landing. I would love to see what my face was doing!) My flying wasn’t pretty but I’m really happy with it. It felt good.

Karen told me how quickly it gets up and goes, but I was still exhilarated by the takeoff and climb. Dan Freeman flew his practice sequence and had just landed at Lee when I took off (he makes an appearance in the video). Mark Meredith (restoring a Super Chipmunk in the hangar next to Bill Finagin) took the opportunity for a proficiency flight in his Archer and went down to Cambridge about the same time. Emily’s brother Bennett flew with him and we had lunch down there. It was a great afternoon.
pitts s1s

I went to Cambridge, did some testing west of the field: slow flight, stalls, rudder walk, turns, and found ~1900rpm gets me to a 100mph pattern speed. I did some brief checks of control feel at lower airspeeds and I’ll explore more soon. I found it takes a ton of right rudder, even in cruise a left turn only needs the barest hint of left rudder. I’ll explore that more as I get more time in it. Then I headed into the pattern at Cambridge for three low-approaches and then a landing.

Communication is still an issue, so maybe it’s not the radio. On the way out Potomac reported me weak, broken, and unreadable. Mark was only 5 miles away and said I was clear but very weak. (We planned to come back into the SFRA as a two-ship, just in case, but apparently Potomac could hear me well enough so we came in separately.) The automated radio check on the ground at Lee sounds fine. Troubleshooting ensues so I can go flying again!

I put cameras on the airplane but I didn’t give them much attention…I had other things to focus on. Consequently I didn’t get much usable video. The cockpit cam battery died quickly and the wing cam tilted back shortly after takeoff. I do have an hour of the underside of the top wing, though, in case that ever comes in handy.

It’s not exciting video but it’s a moment I’ll remember forever.

Thanks to Bill Finagin for his excellent training and getting me ready quicker than I thought possible.