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21 October 2011

Amazing Aerobatic Video with Vicky Benzing

I first saw this video of Vicky Benzing performing aerobatics on the Love Air Aviation Blog. What I love about this video is the perspective, that we are right there with Benzing flying the plane, rather than just a view of the plane itself from the ground.

Vicky Benzing Aerobatics – What a performance! | Love Air Aviation Blog

To say that there are some very skilful aerobatic pilots in the world today would be an understatement.

Such pilots are in every way like athletes; they need to be physically fit, mentally agile, and emotionally balanced in order to give their best performance. Unlike athletes though they also need to have an intimate knowledge of the machine in which they perform. Like Formula 1 drivers they have to know how to obtain the best performance from the chosen vehicle without flying outside of the envelope.

Watching world class aerobatics is a joy. Here’s a clip of Vicky Benzing giving it her all.

And you get to listen to Bob Seger at the same time.

Vicky Benzing Aerobatics from TimnEvan on Vimeo.

Benzing is a pilot, skydiver, aerobatic competitor and Reno racer. In an interview on Evan Flies, she spoke about learning to fly.

Evan flies – Vicky Benzing

I got my private pilot’s license when I had 40 hours. So I went to the airport and rented Amelia Reid’s Luscombe, trained in that for about 10 hours, and I got on an airline and went to the East Coast and bought this airplane.I flew it back by myself and I flew for about 10 hours so then I had 60 hours and it took me about 40 hours to fly across the United States and then I had about 100 hours. It was a fantastic trip. I was 24 years old then. I just took it a few hours at a time, low and slow, and when I left New Jersey my radio went out so I had to land at uncontrolled fields, which was just fine because I brought my sleeping bag and my tent, which I forgot tent poles for, so I just planned to sleep under the wing across the United States and I did!

After I learned to fly in the Taylorcraft, I took a ten hour course with Amelia Reid in her Citabria, and that was really, really fun. I learned how to do loops and rolls and Immlemans. Amelia was quite a character. She would fall asleep in the airplane and I had heard this about primary training. The Citabria is a nice airplane but it’s tandem, so the pilot sits in front and the instructor sits in the back and whenever you did something she didn’t like, she’d reach up there and whack you, and then if she was comfortable with your flying, she would fall asleep and I would be up there doing loops and Immlemans and stuff and she’d be in the backseat sleeping, and it wasn’t till I would come in to Reid Hillview, and cut the power off on final, that she would wake up in the back seat because she’d hear the engine change.

Benzing’s airplane is a modified German-built single seat Extra 300S, powered by a Lycon customized experimental AEIO540 engine and a Hartzell propeller.

I can’t resist one more video. This is a more traditional view, also filmed by TimnEvan, showing Vicky Benzing in action:

Vicky Benzing promo from TimnEvan on Vimeo.

Wow. When I grow up, I want to be just like her.

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like some of my other posts about aerobatic pilots:

26 August 2011

The Red Arrows

My heart broke when I saw the update on the Royal Air force Aerobatic Team website. Until the last, I’d hoped that Flight Lieutenant Egging had managed to eject safely. And then the RED 4 Messages of Condolence page appeared.

It is with sadness that the MOD must confirm the death of Flight Lieutenant Jon Egging of the Royal Air Force Aerobatics Team (The Red Arrows).

Flight Lieutenant Egging was killed when his Hawk T1 aircraft – Red 4 – crashed around 1km South East of Bournemouth Airport at 1350 on Saturday 20 August 2011.

The accident is being investigated and although rumours abound, there is yet no hard information as to what went wrong.

Yesterday in the The Red Arrows Team News, the RAF announced that the Red Arrows would fly back to RAF Scrampton today. However, this morning there was rain and a low cloud base at RAF Scampton and so the flight was cancelled in hopes of better weather tomorrow. A nice reminder that it happens even to the best pilots.

The team will be resume training next week after their return to Scramptom. The Red Arrows have eight-man displays already in their repetoire, in order to go on in case a pilot is unable to fly, so they may resume yet their public display schedule.

Here’s the best of the videos I found of the Red Arrows display at the Quebec International Airshow last year:

Look at them there. They are flying six feet apart. I won’t even get that close to another plane on the ground when I’m trying to park on the apron!

The RAF explain how the Red Arrows were established on their Team History page

The 1950s and 1960s were the heyday of Royal Air Force jet aerobatic display teams. By the mid-60s almost every Flying Training School, and several operational squadrons, had their own teams. So much time, effort and money was being expended on these non-established tasks that the Royal Air Force eventually decided to disband them all and form a single, full-time professional team.

Thus, in 1964, the Red Pelicans flying six Jet Provost T Mk 4s became the first team to represent the Royal Air Force as a whole. In that same year a team of five yellow Folland Gnat jet trainers, known as the Yellowjacks, was formed at No 4 Flying Training School at Royal Air Force Valley in north Wales, led by Flight Lieutenant Lee Jones. The following year Jones was posted to the Central Flying School (CFS) to form the Red Arrows. The Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team (RAFAT), the formal name of the Red Arrows, began life at RAF Fairford in Glouces­tershire, then a satellite of CFS. Initially there were seven display pilots and ten Gnat jet trainers.

The name ‘Red Arrows’ was chosen to combine the appeal and expertise of two earlier teams, the famous Black Arrows and the Red Pelicans.

So how do you become a Red Arrow display pilot?

You must have a minimum of 1,500 flying hours and have completed a frontline tour and be assessed as above average in your flying role. From those who fulfill these qualifications, a shortlist of nine applicants is created. They go through a “selection week” including flying tests, interviews and peer assessments. If you are selected, you do a three-year tour before returning to your Royal Air Force duties.

I don’t fit the minimum requirements for the RAF under any circumstances but … well, a girl can dream, can’t she?

And finally, a gallery of stunning Red Arrow images that made me stop and stare (click through the thumbnails to view full-size or right-click to open in a new window):

All images are Crown copyright and taken from the Royal Airforce Press Collection. You can see more imagery of the Red Arrows on the Multimedia page.

11 December 2009

Drunk steals plane at airshow

I had to cover my eyes to watch this video the first time I was shown it. But then I kept peeking through my fingers.

Totally amazing. It’s hard for me to imagine ever having the skill required to appear to fly that badly. It’s awesome. He’s got incredible control.

The pilot is Kyle Franklin from Franklin’s Flying Circus & Airshow. He is married to the beautiful Amanda Younkin, who manages Franklin’s Flying Circus and Younkin Airshows. Kyle and Bobby Younkin are the pilots – although Amanda can fly as well. When she was featured in the 2010 Bombshell calendar, she was the only babe to fly the planes as well as pose in front of them.

(Hey, another great gift idea! You can buy the calendar online at My Bombshells)

A high resolution copy of film can be downloaded from their website along with a dozen other clips of the circus in action at Franklin’s Flying Circus Video Page. This particular clip is the one marked as “Comedy Act Video Download” and worth watching full-screen on the biggest monitor you can find.

The website also includes details of Jimmy Franklin and Bobby Younkin, who tragically crashed at the Saskatchewan Centennial Air Show in 2005. Their air show team, Masters of Disaster was one of the most sought after in the industry at the time of the accident.

I enjoyed reading the short essays but was especially entranced by the descriptions of Kyle Franklin growing up with airshows as a standard backdrop of his childhood:

Kyle grew up living in a hangar-house in Ruidoso, NM. The hangar soon became his favorite playground as well as a place where he and his father shared quality time servicing Waco’s, Super Cubs, and the Aerostar. Kyle’s first airplane ride was four weeks after his birth. Father Jimmy taught him how to fly when he was eight years old and later taught him aerobatics. As a toddler, Kyle seized every opportunity to wing-walk in Dad’s Waco Mystery Ship as it taxied on about on the ground at air shows. Kyle took his first airborne wing-walk at age 14, and just three years later he was wing-walking professionally at age 17.

I am definitely hoping to see more of Kyle, Bobby and Amanda and Franklin’s Flying Circus & Airshow.

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