Posted by Ron Graham
Posted on 11/20/2015
Third in a series by Bill Teeter – NC Assistant Regional Director
We are here to fly,
so how should you approach it? A couple of suggestions. Don’t try to learn the whole sequence all at one time. Break it down into smaller pieces. Start by practicing individual maneuvers. Fly them repeatedly and fly them both directions, left to right and right to left. The wind changes directions all the time at contests and you need to be able to fly the sequence both directions.
One of the hardest
things to do at first is to fly straight, wind corrected lines. That is the real foundation of IMAC flying. Straight and wings level horizontal, vertical and 45 degree lines. In fact your learning would be well served if you spent time at each practice session flying back and forth, keeping a consistent track and distance out from the flight line, flying straight wind corrected lines. Pilots lose lots of points by not flying straight lines. Watch the more experienced pilots at contests, see how well they fly straight lines.
Another clue is that you must learn to use rudder! Sure many of us learned to fly and make turns with ailerons but you will need to work on your rudder skills. Work at maintaining a wings level attitude and correcting for wind drift with rudder. Practice, practice, practice your rudder skills! There is no substitute for burning “fuel” or “electrons”.
One thing I heard over and over early in my IMAC career was “throttle management”. Many beginning IMAC pilots fly too fast. It is very common to hear from the judges, “slow down!” You don’t need full power in most cases except when flying vertical up lines. Learn to find a nice cruising speed and practice it. This is something else to watch at contests, the speed at which other pilots fly.
As you practice the maneuvers start to string them together in groups of 3-4 at a time. Eventually work up to flying all ten maneuvers in the sequence. Again, practice flying both directions, you don’t want to practice only one direction and then find the wind is in the opposite direction at a contest.
You will notice that the sequences are drawn with a Schedule B with the figures flowing together in one direction, and also a Schedule C with the figures flowing the other direction. Whatever you do, please practice both directions.
“Ok . . . do I have to fly one direction or can I choose?”
Well the truth is that it is pilot’s choice. You can decide which direction to fly the sequence. Reality is that the “Spin” will typically guide Basic pilots as to what direction to fly. It is much easier to stall the aircraft flying into the wind than trying to stall down wind. Most pilots are going to choose the starting direction (form B, left to right, or form C, right to left) based on how they will want to fly the Spin maneuver.
Your best learning tool will be your first contest. Watching and listening to other pilots will help you learn more than hours of practice by yourself. I have heard many new Basic pilots say that they really did not understand how to fly the sequence properly until they went to their first contest. This is especially true if you don’t have the luxury of a local coach or experienced IMAC pilot. There is always a danger in practicing the wrong thing over and over, but with some help, it can be corrected at your first contest.
Don’t be shy,
introduce yourself to the Contest Director (or CD). Tell the CD that this is your first contest. Don’t be surprised if it is announced at the pilots meeting, “Hey guys, this is Joe’s first contest, make him welcome and please help him out”. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask other pilots for help. We all remember what it was like when we went to our first contest. Help is always available to you from other pilots.