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