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Thread: Best way to acquire competition airplane?

  1. #1

    Best way to acquire competition airplane?

    Hello,

    I've started my journey in aerobatics by getting my tail wheel and high performance enforcement. Will start work on spins/upset recovery this summer. I eventually want to enter competition but I don't know where to get an airplane to use, every school has insurance restrictions and I don't have any friends with aerobatic rides I could borrow. Do I just need to make more friends or should I start putting away money for aerobatic machine? Thanks!!

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    New Hampshire
    Posts
    1,277
    Hello! I will offer the advice that the quickest path to entering the aerobatic competition arena is to fly a school Decathlon, with a safety pilot if required. From my own experience I can tell you that when you register for you first contest, you don't know how much you don't know. So if you can get 2 or three other pilots to share the cost of a school ship and a safety pilot, you can become a competitor and start learning competition aerobatics.

    Once you have flown a few contests you begin to have enough knowledge to make sound decisions about your future in the sport and what type of aircraft makes the most sense for you, your skill and experience level, your family, and your budget. The Decathlon is the most friendly for a new competitor with low total tailwheel experience, a spouse and or kids, and a decent budget. A Pitts is much more challenging for a low experience, new competitor, with a spouse who might wonder why there is no second seat.

    Insurance requirements will always be there. And for a prospective buyer the rates and dual instruction requirements are driven by what is in the pilot logbook. Pick an airplane out of Trade-A-Plane or Barnstormers and call an insurance agent with the specs for that airplane and your personal specs. That will tell you about what the insurance companies think of you and that ship. For better or worse, the underwriters calculate statistics for large populations and where you fit in their database is the big driver of what they will charge you. If they quote a large premium or ask for a large amount of dual instruction, they are indirectly speaking to how likely you are to be filing a claim at some point.

    So if you have access to an acro school that will take their airplane to contests, whatever the requirements, do it. At your first contest you will learn a huge amount about competition, your pilot skills, your personality, and maybe your character. And its fun.

    Best of luck,

    Wes
    N78PS

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Longmont, CO
    Posts
    15
    Hi Jesse.

    You're right, it's difficult to find tailwheel airplanes for solo rental and there are ever fewer options for aerobatic models. I recommend getting in touch with the nearest IAC chapter (http://www.eaa.org/en/eaa/eaa-chapte...an-eaa-chapter). They'll know what's available in your area.

    Many people who get involved in competition do want their own machine within a season or two. The Pitts S-1 is by far the best bang for your buck, but good tailwheel skills and good a good check-out are vital. Best of luck to you.

    Regards,
    DJ

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Posts
    161
    Quote Originally Posted by Whallon.jesse View Post
    Hello,

    I've started my journey in aerobatics by getting my tail wheel and high performance enforcement. Will start work on spins/upset recovery this summer. I eventually want to enter competition but I don't know where to get an airplane to use, every school has insurance restrictions and I don't have any friends with aerobatic rides I could borrow. Do I just need to make more friends or should I start putting away money for aerobatic machine? Thanks!!
    What State do you live? In some places there are aerobatic schools that have planes they rent out. For example in South Florida you can rent Sunquest Aviations Pitts S2A (Dual only). But they normally fly it to contests and you can use it with one of their instructors as a Safety pilot. There is a club in Daytona Beach that does the same thing. There is a club like this in Dallas as well. In fact they have a "one design" contest where each pilot will fly a Decathlon (July 17th and 18th).

    Some places you will not be able to do this. Have you joined your local IAC chapter? Joining the club and attending meetings and showing up for competitions and train-up days is a great way to meet folks with these planes. For example, I have a Citabria and take people up all the time…. About the only time I fly it anymore. But you are not going to find many people that are just going to let you 'borrow' their airplane.

    In the end…. You will pretty much have to buy a plane if you are going to be serious. You can get a few guys to buy into one and the cost would not be that much. If you are renting a Pitts with a safety pilot it could easily run 300/hr. So 10 hours is going to cost you 3 Grand.

    As for type of plane… Wes already gave you great advice.
    A Decathlon will cost 30-50 used, although it can easily cost over 100K. It is a pretty good acro plane and will do well in Primary and last year a guy won Sportsman in one. A single seat Pitts is maybe the best bang for the buck. You can get them from 25K to 40K (again, they can easily get up there - 70ish). And you can be taught how to land it.

    Insurance for me is about 700 for my Citabria and 1200 for my Pitts.

    So at first it makes sense to rent if you can… This may not be something you really like. Maybe you like acro, but not the competition. So rent till you find your spot and then buy what you can.

    Of course… All of this is just my opinion. But I started flying and wanted to compete. So I bought a 7ECA to get tailwheel experience and then after about 100 hours of TW, I bought a Pitts S1S.

    If I wanted, I could sell the 7ECA for about what I bought it for.
    1996 Quad City Challenger CWS w/503 - Sold
    1974 7ECA Citabria - Sold
    1986 Pitts S1S

  5. #5
    I live in California, joined IAC 26 and attended the 2014 contest in Delano assisting judges and the like. Met some great people including Tim Just who I'm sure many of you know is on the USA team right now. Outside of that I really have not had contact with IAC 26, everything has been quiet since September. I wish I knew someone near Lemoore, CA that did some aero.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Posts
    161
    Man you have TONS of options out there.

    http://www.iacusn.org/schools/index.php#state_FL_
    1996 Quad City Challenger CWS w/503 - Sold
    1974 7ECA Citabria - Sold
    1986 Pitts S1S

  7. #7
    The schools are great but all require a 1/2 days drive plus an over night stay to make any weekend worth it. Half my costs go to travel before I even get into the cockpit! I'm looking for a better way to get in the air on a more regular basis, either need to find a mentor or build a plane I'm thinking. Is there any way to locate IAC members near me I could do some training with?

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Posts
    161
    The schools are great but all require a 1/2 days drive plus an over night stay to make any weekend worth it
    Several are 2.5 hours away from you.
    Tutimia is 1:47 according to Google.
    To put this in perspective, my Airport where I keep my plane is 1:20 away.
    I used to drive 1:50 mins to skydive when I was learning.

    So two hours drive there, two hours back. Then spending 4 hours there for two hours of flight training is 8 hours. Still not at half a day. When learning to jump I would drive 2 hours, spend 6-12 hours there and then drive home. I would drive early and catch a nap in my car before the DZ opened.

    As for half your costs going to travel…. If you are lamenting 20-100 dollars in gas… Aviation is not for you.

    "either need to find a mentor or build a plane I'm thinking"

    You will have to find a very good friend to loan you their airplane to fly acro in it. As for building one… I was told to figure 5 years as a baseline to build something. Sure, you can do it faster, but I have also heard of 20 year projects.

    "Is there any way to locate IAC members near me I could do some training with?"
    Joining the club and attending meetings and showing up for competitions and train-up days is a great way to meet folks with these planes.

    1996 Quad City Challenger CWS w/503 - Sold
    1974 7ECA Citabria - Sold
    1986 Pitts S1S

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Oakland, California, United States
    Posts
    13
    I don't know how active IAC 26 is right now but IAC 38 is very active up North. We're based out of Livermore, hold critique days at Tracy, and our contest is at New Coalinga at the end of May. As others have suggested, come hang out at chapter meetings, events and contests.

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