I just got back yesterday from the Duel in the Desert Contest in Apple Valley, CA. Thursday was registration day and we got one 15 minute slot for practice. There were 28 competitors, and a bunch of awesome aircraft. I felt like a kid in a toy store. There were over half a dozen Extras, an Edge 540, 4-5 Pitts S1 and S2s, a Super D, 2 Eagles, a Great Lakes, and a very humble 160hp, FP prop RV4. Am I in the wrong place?? Haha. I wasted some precious minutes of my practice slot b/c I was not prepared. (I didn't realize I needed fuel, forgot to buckle the rear belts, etc.) Newbie mistakes, which only left me with about 8 minutes to check out the box and do one sequence. Next time I need to get prepared instead of gawking at the cool planes and chatting with their owners.
Friday, we started nice and early with the pilots meeting at 7am and Intermediate starting right after that. Afterwards was everyone else. I did ok, I thought, with a 77.xx% score, but felt I could do better and felt that I normally fly better than that. The density altitude caught me off guard and I learned that I should have started higher and carried more speed to start the maneuvers.
Second round I felt was better, but the judges didn't think so and I got a 76.xx%. I read the comments, but couldn't really understand what some of the comments meant. And the others, I kinda didn't know what to do about them. It would have been nice to have a mentor/ coach at this time. Any volunteers??
Saturday comes and again we had to wake up early, drive 20-25 minutes to the airport from the hotel and we all looked really tired. It was smoking hot.
I had my best flight that day with a score of 78.xx% and an overall finish of 3rd place.
First and second were Pitts S2s flown by a young kid who's obviously very talented and even at only twenty-something years old was a CFII and was flying with an aerobatic flight school in Utah. He has aspirations to become a Red Bull Air Race pilot. Second was a lovely young gal who flies for a collegiate aerobatics team in Colorado. By the end of the contest we were all friends and joking around with each other about who's gonna win the next contest.
AJ Wilder (he flies for the US National Aerobatic Team), who has been helping me out at my practice days, told me to go get the score and comments at the end of the contest so he could go over them with me and tell me what I need to work on for the next contest. They were really helpful tips, but why didn't he tell me this BETWEEN rounds instead of at the END of the contest?? Haha.
That would have been so helpful! I had a great time and learned a bunch and met a lot of really amazing people.
And as icing on the cake, I met and was hanging out with Max, the owner of a gorgeous Extra 330 the whole weekend. After the contest was finished on Saturday, we had some time and he asked me if I wanted to fly his plane from the front seat. Uhm... Of course!! YES!! The stick was so light that it felt like I just needed to BREATH on it and it moves! It's almost telepathic. It took a few minutes to get used to, but after I had a blast! Super nice guy and great pilot. He ended up with Second in Sportsman.
The best speech I heard at the banquet/ award ceremony was given by Howard Kirker, a 70-something legend in the sport. He said that the best measure of success in this sport is if you can grow old. That's much more important than trophies or titles. The goal is to be able to enjoy this sport until you grow old like him. So safety is of utmost importance. He has been flying since 16 years old and competed for 30 years up to Unlimited. He's now dialed back, but still kicking butt in Intermediate. He won first place this weekend. And the other guys say he always does - in a Great Lakes!!
Thanks to IAC 49 for taking me into their chapter and showing me the ropes. Before about a month and half ago, I never even had flown in an aerobatic box or gotten any ground critiquing or coaching and didn't know what the heck I was doing. Without them, I definitely would not have been here to compete. And thanks to Ron, Bill (willyeyeball), Jerry and all the guys on the IAC RV Yahoogroup for their guidance. You guys are a great inspiration for what an RV can do! And of course thanks to VAF and all the members for the incredible resource that it is. I would not even own an RV if it wasn't for this group. And lastly thanks to EAA 96 for coming "straight outta Compton" to support me! Haha. A lot of the following photos are courtesy of my buddies from EAA 96.
Here are the photos: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1y8...ifgG5TK5LxR7Rw
Now I gotta get some rest to recover. It was great fun, but sure takes a lot out of ya! Can't wait till the next one!