Wings & Water: Calculated Risks: Daredevil School

Fledgling aerobaticists have a variety of resources at their disposal. The textbook Basic Aerobatics, by aerobatics instructor Michael Goulian and aviation writer Geza Szurovy (TAB Books, 1994), provides a thorough introduction to the sport and will take you through the initial levels of competitive flying. When you finish, you can move up to Advanced Aerobatics by the same authors (McGraw-Hill, 1997). In addition, the International Aerobatic Club (IAC) publishes Sport Aerobatics, a monthly magazine for recreational fliers. The organization’s web site (www.iac.org) provides useful advice for beginners, including an illustrated glossary of aerobatic maneuvers.

Well-regarded flight schools include Goulian’s Executive Flyers Aviation near Boston (www.executiveflyers.com), Sean Tucker’s Power Aerobatics near San Francisco (www.poweraerobatics.com), and Debby Rihn-Harvey’s Harvey & Rihn Aviation near Houston (www.harveyrihn.com). Expect to pay around $200 per hour or more for the aircraft rental and instructor time. The IAC web site lists more than 60 schools; each listing provides contact information and describes aircraft flown, instructors, and programs, although the IAC does not evaluate or endorse any of these schools.

When selecting a school, choose one with a strong safety record and one with experienced instructors who are familiar with your airplane. Request references and contact former students. In addition, the IAC can identify aerobatics pilots in your area who can provide reliable advice about instructors, or you can attend a regional IAC contest and speak with the pilots in attendance.

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