Posted by Ron Graham
Posted on 10/10/2015
A Basic Pilot’s Year In Review – Steve Ruxton
It took me two years from the time I first heard about IMAC until I finally took the plunge last spring. It peaked my curiosity right away but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to add a competitive component to my hobby. This is what I do to relax. Did I really want to add something so stressful into the mix?
I saw the experts flying their 43% monsters and loading their trailers and wondered if I really could afford to be competitive? It all seemed like it happened at a very elite level and I wasn’t sure if I’d fit in.
Last spring (2014), through a series of fortunate events, I took the leap and never looked back. The very first thing I discovered was that although the flying happens at an elite level, the competitors are anything but elitist.
As soon as I announced my intention to give it a try the volunteers came out of the woodwork! Two local competitors (one a brand new member of our club and one who until then I only knew in passing) immediately stepped up and offered their help. They spent countless flights with me, calling, coaching, encouraging and teaching. All time they could have been spending on their own prep for the worlds. Another member stepped up and spent a whole afternoon trying to teach me how to do a proper spin.
The same could be said when I attended my first contest in Keswick. On the Friday night before the contest I lost a wheel and collar as I landed. People from all over the pits came offering help. In the end, the spares I needed came from someone I would fly against the next two days in Basic. Couldn’t ask for better sportsmanship than that.
Looking around that contest I also realized that you don’t have to spend a ton of money to fly in the lower classes. Having moved up to a larger plane before I started, I would have to say there is no doubt bigger does fly better, but in the end a practiced pilot with a smaller plane will beat someone who is un-prepared with a larger plane. In Basic this year I saw everything from small electrics to glow planes to large gassers and I think every single pilot enjoyed themselves regardless.
Watching the higher level pilots prepare for the worlds at our field confirmed that the friendliness and sportsmanship carries on as you move up through the levels. Pilots who would be competing against each other, but for Canada, at the worlds got together at our field several times to call for each other and practice together.
I had a great season this year and I’m looking forward to practicing more and flying better because of it again next year. Here are a few of the things I’ve learned along the way:
1. Fly straight and level. Nothing good comes out of having your wings tipped!
2. Continuously correct for the wind.
3. Sloooow down.
4. Practice maneuvers in small groups.
5. If possible have someone with lots of experience help you set up your plane.
6. Learn about mixes and conditions on your radio.
7. Don’t keep how much fun it is a secret! The people are what make IMAC great.
Looking back over year one it is obvious that I learned a lot and met some awesome people and had a great deal of fun. The most exciting part for me is that I have hardly scratched the surface! Looking forward to repeating the cycle for years to come.
- Steven Ruxton lives in Woodstock, Ontario. He has been back flying for 5 years after getting away from the hobby to raise a family. This season was Steve's second in Basic and he was lucky enough to win the NCFR regional championship in the Basic division. Steve is looking forward to moving up to Sportsman next year and the new challenges that will present.