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Aerobatic Training Builds Confidence

By Beth E. Stanton

July 28, 2016 - The dizzy array of aviation possibilities at AirVenture get us dreaming—another type rating, a brand-new realm of flying, or a discovery that leads to an entirely different world.

You see a fascinating aircraft that sparks a thought, “What would it feel like to fly that?” The excitement of AirVenture inspires pilots to expand their skills and try something new. When it comes to increasing pilot proficiency and just plain fun, nothing compares to aerobatics. Seriously.

Unusual attitude and spin recovery training is the number one way to build competence and confidence in the cockpit. I’ve spoken to pilots with decades of flying experience who’ve confessed they’re frightened of spins. I once asked a roomful of Certified Flight Instructors to raise their hand if they were scared of spins. Almost every person raised his or her hand. This is so unnecessary! Fear mars the joy of flying. Facing that fear takes resolve and action, but is so worth it. Get thee to a school or instructor for unusual attitude training. Just do it already.

Before the ink dried on my pilot’s license, I sought out upset training. I figured the chance of implementing the memorized “P-A-R-E” for spin recovery in an emergency situation was slim. As a newly minted private pilot, I was uncomfortable with stalls and the idea of spins. That first spin was a little nerve-wracking, but I had full confidence in my instructor. To my astonishment, fear actually turned into fun. I immediately joined the International Aerobatic Club (IAC). The mission of the IAC is to promote the safety and enjoyment of sport aerobatics. I was hooked.

Four years and three aerobatic competition categories later, I can personally attest to the skill-building power of unusual attitude training. Three years after that very first spin, I found myself a single-seat Laser about to perform an inverted spin. I had already practiced in a two-seat Pitts and Super Decathlon with my coach. As I hung in my harness pushing to stall the wing, I marveled at how far I had come. I was absolutely not nervous. It wasn’t the prettiest of spins from a competition standard, but it was safe. And super fun! To find out more about unusual attitude training or how to get started in aerobatics, check out iac.org.

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