Second Planes

TOO MUCH, TOO SOON - by Clay Ramskill

He'd done this several times before -- it was a real crowd-pleaser. Take off and immediately pull nearly vertical, climbing out almost straight up. Aligning the 60-size "stick" with the runway, he gunned the powerful .90 4-stroke, then yanked the stick back. With a roar, the Ugly Stick pointed its nose up, but only mushed forward, barely climbing. Completely stalled. The nose began a sickening dive to the left. "I ain't got it!" he shouted as the plane crashed.

Radio problem? CG problem?

No. All too often we see the above scenario -- after the trainer, a relatively "hot" airplane, with lots of power. And often as not, the appropriate warning sign is there -- the trainer was crashed, not worn out or sold. Then the relatively inexperienced pilot gets a "hot" plane, or an appropriate intermediate plane, but overpowered.

Perhaps there should be an intermediate training program, too. So that a pilot knows he must be able to use appropriate rudder with a strong engine. So he knows that the stall characteristics of an Extra are not the same as on his trusty Eagle 3. So that he knows how to recover from a deep stalled attitude. So that he knows not to get into that deep stall 10' above the runway.

It's bad enough that some individuals end up crashing some awfully nice hardware before they even get the chance to appreciate it properly. There is a safety factor involved also. The fewer crashes, the less likely a crash will occur in the pits, on a car, or someone's head.

Newer pilots need a bit of coaching -- sometimes they need the brutal hard facts: "Son, that plane's too much for you right now." They need some patience -- to take some time to really learn flying on a trainer or intermediate plane before moving up to "heavy iron."

More experienced flyers need to be more involved with the less experienced -- help them get the skills they need before they get into trouble.