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Aeros - First solo

Some day soonishly, I think I might be let off the leash in the Cap 10 for a first solo aeros flight. It's all pretty tiddly stuff - a loop or two, a barrel roll, a stall turn (gasp), maybe a bit of inverted flight with a timid attempt at a turn - but still quite a step up for me. And just slightly uneasy hearing my instructor announce, breezy and businesslike, that I'll inevitably experience the engine stopping in a spin one of these fine days. I'm trying hard to think of this as the non-event it appears to be to an aeros sky god.

So, who's done the first aeros solo thing? What was it like? How best to prepare for the big moment? How much is 'all in the mind'? With any kind of flying - not just aeros - quite a lot is about confidence, non? I wish you could buy that stuff...


It sounds like you're off to a great start - planning to get training. Without competent training, DYI aerobatics can be extremely dangerous. For the untrained, often by the time you realize that you're in trouble, it's too late!

My first experience at aerobatics was 24 years ago, during a flight with a very experienced aerobatic pilot in his C 185 amphibian. I asked if an aircraft which that kind of pendulum effect would capable of a roll. He said he did not know - rolled it beautifully twice, and told me "yes."

Following that, he trained me in his 150 Aerobat for basic aerobatics. Since that time, I practice regularly. I find that sometimes during test flying I end up in a quasi aerobatic maneuver, so I'm happy for the currency. As long as you stay within the limits of the aircraft, you would be amazed what they are capable of! A part of aerobatic training is to learn to have the skill to follow through....

Home runway, in central Ontario, Canada

DYI aerobatics? Wozzat Pilot DAR? Do-yourself-in aerobatics? LOL.

Just googled the C 185 Amphibian. A roll? What, in that thing!? Blimey - he must have had to hoick the nose up pretty high before starting.... !

Well, this morning's aeros lesson has just been cancelled (again, ffffft!). It's difficult to get the continuity right now but I'll get there in the end. I found the first few lessons a bit difficult, getting used to the new sensations, but now I'm impatient to finish the course and get that hard-earned signature in my log book

And for those of you who, like me, spend a lot of time pootling along in a 172, what if I tried a little hammerhead in this thing?... (we need some italics formatting, please)...c'mon, bet you on. But don't try it yourself, of course...

As Pilot DAR says - get proper training. Stay safe and have fun.


This is one of those topics which is very worthy. I find myself wanting to convey that everyone should do this, and it is much more easy and safe than everyone thinks, as long as you do it right (as you were trained). But, if you do it wrong, you have a very slim margin to get yourself out safely. I don't want to write how scary and dangerous it is for fear of putting new pilots off, but I also don't want to encourage cowboy flying (as I have occasionally witnessed).

In the very worst, I was one of four people who extracted a very dead friend from his very badly crumpled C 150 after his failed quasi aerobatics - The airplane could have done it - he could not, even though he had thousands of hours. The problem was he was doing something he had seen me do many times in my 150. I never alarmed myself doing it, but, he killed himself - I stopped doing irresponsible things in airplanes, particularly where I had an audience. Thus I similarly avoid writing irresponsible things to an audience.

That said, letting alone the fun, the confidence that aerobatic training will give you during your everyday flying is excellent. Every now and again something unexpected happens while you're flying, and knowing that the plane can handle it, and you can fly through it, can make all the difference.

Some of my flying is well beyond "everyday". I frequently am required to spin non spin approved aircraft (right up to a Cessna Caravan with an external load). One of these tests was a Lake Amphibian, with 75% power applied at entry. Well, with the torque, that became a snap roll! Not what I expected, or what that plane was designed for. I would never intentionally do it again, but it was a beautiful maneuver - and the modified plane passed the test. My aerobatic training got me neatly out the other side, just where I wanted to be.

Unusual attitudes can happen, and aerobatics training is your best tool to get out safely....

Home runway, in central Ontario, Canada

I did my first aerobatic solo in july 2011. I did the usual loops, rolls, wingovers and spins. I cannot say I was all that apprehensive because I had practiced all manouvres to a passable standard before. Still, it was a pretty awesome thing to do!

The only perhaps unusual thing was that my ppl at the time was only a couple of days old. I entered my first competition six weeks later. I didn't win but it was great fun. Competition aerobatics gives ones flying a purpose, which I like.

A year later I have flown a Pitts Special in a Standard level competition. That went wel so Intermediate is my goal for next year. The best thing is you'll never stop learning as it will never perfect!


Jojo, if the instructor thinks you're ready, then you probably are. Make sure you have plenty height to spare - aim for "two mistakes high" as your minimums. So you can make a mistake in a maneuver, then botch up the first recovery attempt and still live to tell the tale.

As far as the engine stopping is concerned, well, I guess you're lucky you're training with an inverted flight system. I fly aerobatics in an R2160 which doesn't have that luxury, so I'm quite used to engines stopping by now. As far as I know the Cap-10 has a fixed pitch prop. That means the engine will stop producing power (through a lack of fuel - inverted fuel systems are not 100% infallible) but the propellor will be windmilling and as soon as the fuel flow has been restored, the engine will catch again. In the R2160 (carbureted, not fuel injected like in the Cap-10) the quickest restoration of power happens when you close the throttle proactively just before you hit the negative G's, and open the throttle slowly as soon as positive G's have been restored. But YMMV.

If you really dread an engine stoppage, then here's an experiment that you might want to do with your instructor. Climb to a good, safe altitude - 5000 feet minimum. Set about half throttle for a slow cruise, about 1800 RPM - 80 knots or so. Let the engine T&Ps stabilize for a minute or so. Then close the mixture but leave the throttle in its half-open position. You have now become a proper glider but you will notice the prop will remain windmilling. Slowly pitch up to let the speed decay, all the way to the stall. In the R2160 I found the prop will keep on windmilling well into the stall. In fact, I could not get the prop to properly stop even in a fully stalled configuration (stick pulled back to the stops, keeping level with the rudder).

If you can't get the prop to stop in a stall, you can also try picking up some speed, say 80 knots or so, pull up and do a half-G pushover. That should allow you to fly well below Vs, with everything under control, and may make the prop stop completely. (I needed to fly about 30 knots for the prop to stop windmilling.)

Then comes the interesting part. Pitch down until you are back at about 80 knots, set mixture full rich, leave throttle still in its half-open position. This will not be enough aerodynamic force to start the prop windmilling again, so you will need to start it with the starter. You will find it will catch almost immediately - only a very short "blip" of the starter is required to get the engine through its first compression, then the wind does the rest.

Take the aircraft back to your starting altitude, do the same thing to stop the prop. Then mixture full rich, throttle closed, and dive straight to the ground to see if you can get the engine through its first compression by windmilling alone. In the R2160 this needed about 140 knots. Make sure you have the throttle closed, since 140 knots is enough to overspeed the engine.

It's an incredibly weird sight, a completely stopped prop in-flight. I did this exercise only once but it gave me great confidence in the ability of the engine to restart itself.

Make sure you do this with an instructor on board though, and talk it through thoroughly before the flight. Pick your emergency landing field before you start the exercise, in case things do go wrong. And be very, very gentle with the engine. Particularly the stopped prop, 140kt+ dive will rapidly cool the engine. If you then restore power and start a full-power climb straight away, you will generate great thermal stress in the cylinders. Not good.

BackPacker, thanks very much indeed for taking the time to write such a useful and comprehensive reply - I'll certainly discuss that with my instructor. You're absolutely right, the Cap 10 is fuel-injected with an inverted flight system and a fixed pitch prop.

I've never experienced an stopped prop in flight (yet), and I think that's the source of some of the apprehension.

I'll certainly bear the need to be gentle with the engine in mind (and hope it will be gentle with me, in return!)

it flies - hello, glad you found your way to the forum You're right about the satisfaction to be gained from having a purpose to your flying. Great how aviation offers so many different purposes to so many different pilots. Good luck with your competitions!


My 'aeros first solo' was many decades ago and I honestly can't remember it, so it must have been a non-event; a seamless transition from doing aeros with Martin, my instructor, in the back and doing the same with a vacant back seat.

I once almost had the engine stop in the Chippy in a stall turn. I dived for the entry speed, flew briefly level, then hauled to the vertical and went storming straight up with full power on, gradually applying left rudder to keep the ball in the middle as we rapidly slowed. I was tad late with whopping on full right rudder for the stall turn so she didn't go round. Instead of smartly rotating from straight up to straight down as per usual, she yawed about 45 degrees right and stopped yawing, and started sliding backwards. The propellor slowed and I could count the individual blades passing the nose as I shouted at it to "KEEP BLUDDY GOING!". It did, I had the controls braced in the tail slide, and after what seemed an age the nose fell through and we were diving out of the manouvre.

What I hadn't noticed was my (non-pilot) passenger in the back seat was chocking on avgas fumes as fuel vapour poured out of the wingtop vents and found its way (heaven knows how) into the rear part of the canopy. He managed not to puke but hasn't forgiven me for that yet!

Not as bad as a fellow group member when I was in the Yak52 group, though. He went off with Martin, our aeros instructor, in the back seat for some refresher training. He pulled sharply up into a loop with far, far too much 'G'. After he was back level he apologised to Martin for the lousey manouvre but there was no reply. He tried calling again - nothing from the rear cockpit. Those that know the Yak know you can't see back into the rear cockpit from the front. "OMG I've killed 'im!" thought my mate, and headed back towards base at warp speed.

After a while Martin's voice came over the intercom; "sorry about that. When you pulled up into that loop my headset shot down to round my neck then flew off and dissappeared somewhere behind my seat. I've only just managed to retrieve it!"

Barton is my spiritual home.

I'm sure you aerobatic experts will let us know whether this clip of a 707's barrel roll is genuine or not. The image at 1m 10s especially....

Swanborough Farm (UK), Shoreham EGKA, Soysambu (Kenya), Kenya

Well, I did not yet exist at the time but it I'm pretty sure it did happen. A barrel roll can be performed without negative G's. An aileron roll at minus one G would probably exceed the very low negative G-limits for airliners.

The other week I spoke to a 747 pilot who told me he could hold the 747 at knife edge in the simulator. The simulator seemed to conclude that it is possible so it must be true. :-)

@Jojo: Thanks, I'll need luck! Intermediate is a big step up from Standard. On the menu for this year are: snap rolls, inverted turns and spins, rolling circles and new combination figures like an avalanche. That's a snap roll at the apogee of a loop. Lots of new opportunites for confusion and disorientation.

Also take a look a the propeller stopping in this video. If you've got a sensible practice height and an electric starter it should be no big deal.

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