By Michael Shaw, Captain
Aerobatics instructor Jonathan Rotondo and his student Jean- Pierre Seguin outlined the course of instruction taught at Rockcliffe Flying Club in their Super Decathlon C-GKXD.
Seguin started by telling us that for roughly 40 years he had been turned off aerobatics by one of his first airplane rides, before he got his licence. The pilot failed to pay attention to how his young passenger was feeling while doing a series of mild aerobatic manoeuvres. Seguin was turning green and was sick upon landing.
Later when he got his pilot’s licence he avoided aerobatics thinking his stomach would not take it. He was wrong and missed out on many years of loops and rolls because of his first experience.
Last year he took Rotondo’s 10-hour aerobatics course and with the help of a bit of raw ginger and a toughened stomach he now has no problems with aerobatics. He has since explored the basics in an Extra 330 and a Harvard while on trips to the USA.
Rotondo took us through his course in a video featuring an eight year old passenger enjoying the ride. The passenger smiled all the way around loops and rolls with several “Wows” clearly read off his moving lips.
As one might expect safety is of primary importance, so all training is done above a floor of 4,000 feet above sea level in Ottawa’s practice areas, north or west of Rockcliffe.
Most manoeuvres start at 6,000 feet above sea level. He answered many questions and several attendees seemed quite interested in trying some aerobatics. He explained that he is licensed to take passengers as well as teach aerobatics. In fact, once one has completed the course, taking a friend along for some aerobatics is quite legal. In Canada you don’t even need a parachute.
The emphasis of the course is on mastering loops and rolls since they are components in most aerobatic manoeuvres. We saw them in videos of Seguin in the Harvard and Rotondo in the Extra 330. He says the Extra is more like a video game than an airplane.
We also inspected the Super Decathlon and Seguin help some folks strap it on. Apparently one needs to be strapped on quite tightly before doing aerobatics.