Flight Technique/Three Impressive Turnaround Maneuvers
Add some style to your routine
Add some style to your routine
For many, watching a precise aerobatic routine is almost like watching an aerial ballet, and to the aerobatic pilot, there is no feeling that is more gratifying than executing the perfect flight. Flying flawlessly boils down to having not only a properly tuned aircraft but also a firm understanding of your own ability as well as what’s required for each individual maneuver. Mastering the various maneuvers is the first part, but there’s still another important element needed to develop a successful sequence. By using turnaround maneuvers, you can stitch your moves together so that the entire flight presentation is smooth and flowing. Choosing the right turnaround maneuver also helps you set up and plan the order of your flight segments. Here are three advanced turnaround maneuvers that will add excitement to your overall aerobatic routine.
Invented in the 1930s, the half Cuban-8 was first flown by American barnstormer Len Povey. While attempting a triple avalanche, his entry speed was too high, so he decided to abort the attempt with a simple half-roll on the back side of the figure. Thus, the now-common maneuver was born! Today, the half Cuban-8 is popular with the full-scale Red Bull Air Race and is used as a standard turnaround maneuver.
For the first few attempts, start at a generous altitude for additional safety. The traditional half Cuban-8 begins from upright level flight parallel with the runway.
Pull 5/8 of a loop to establish an inverted 45-degree downline with a brief line segment as shown in the illustration. Perform a half-roll, and add a second line segment (equal to the first). Finally, pull the model into a 1/8 loop segment, exiting the maneuver at the same
altitude as the entry and traveling in the opposite direction.
BY THE NUMBERS
Step 1: Increase throttle to about 85 to 100% power. Establish the maneuver by gently pulling elevator. The amount of elevator used affects the overall size of the inside-loop portion. Using a small amount of up-elevator results in a larger figure, whereas using more elevator deflection will make the loop smaller. Step 2: As the model nears the top of the loop segment, start decreasing throttle to maintain a constant flight speed. Once the inverted 45-degree downline is established, stop pulling elevator. Define the 45-degree downline by performing a brief line segment, and take note of the line segment’s length.
Step 3: Next, perform a half-roll by applying aileron. Once the half-roll has been completed, fly a second line segment that’s equal to the first line’s length. Apply corrective inputs as needed to keep the aircraft in the desired orientation.
Step 4: Finally, perform a smooth 1/8 inside loop to establish an upright-level exit. It is important to note that the entry and exit altitude should be the same.
Like all aerobatic figures, maneuver variations are seemingly endless. Instead of performing a simple half-roll, you can execute a full roll and then push a 1/8 outside-loop segment and exit inverted. Rather than a continuous half-roll, you could also perform hesitation rolls (two points of a four-point roll, four points of an eight-point roll, etc.). Use your imagination. As with all maneuvers, the traditional half Cuban-8 requires a certain amount of time to master. It takes practice to perfect proper techniques.
While it may seem simple, the traditional tailslide is one of the most challenging maneuvers to perform properly. At all times, you must apply precise control inputs and maintain a certain orientation to ensure that the aircraft falls backward. Orientation of the model can often become difficult, and the smallest heading deviation can result in an unsuccessful attempt. Also, you have to remember that, in a proper tailslide, the control inputs are opposite compared to when the aircraft is in forward flight! Simply said, there’s lots of “think” flying going on in the pilot’s head.
This is the “wheels-up” version of this maneuver. Breaking this maneuver down into four basic steps will help explain the various inputs required, so let’s get started.
Typically, the maneuver is performed either to the left or right side of the aerobatic airspace. For a midsize aerobat, fly the maneuver at the end of the runway so that you have a better visual of the aircraft. For the first few attempts, perform the maneuver about
200 feet away from yourself, into the wind and parallel to the runway.
Initiate the maneuver by performing a gradual 90-degree pull to establish a vertical upline. After a short line segment for about five seconds, begin decreasing power. As the aircraft nears a complete stop, activate the appropriate flight mode and continue to apply the required corrective control inputs to maintain a vertical attitude. Remember: If the airplane is not completely vertical, it will not slide rearward. Once it is sliding back, apply full down-elevator and the model will fall with the wheels oriented toward the sky. At that point, release the control inputs and return the flight mode to the lowrate setting. A visible “pendulum” may be shown past the vertical as the aircraft falls and establishes the downline, which is completely natural. Apply down-elevator, and exit the figure inverted at the same altitude as you began the maneuver but traveling in the opposite direction!
BY THE NUMBERS
Step 1: Enter the maneuver upright and parallel to the runway, traveling into the wind. Activate the low-rate setting, and apply 75 to 90% power. Gently apply upelevator, and execute a quarterloop to establish a vertical upline. Power settings will vary depending on the airplane you are flying. Note the size of the radius.
Step 2: When the desired altitude has almost been reached, slowly decrease throttle and apply any corrective control input to keep the proper flight attitude to maintain a perfectly vertical line. As the model begins to slow down, activate your 3D/tailslide rate. I prefer to pull the throttle back so that there’s enough power to bring the aircraft to a momentary stationary position, then I pull the throttle to idle.
Step 3: As the airplane begins to fall backward, apply full downelevator. This will cause the airplane to fall in a wheels-up attitude. During this “pendulum” movement, slowly neutralize elevator and return to your “lowrate” setting.
Step 4: Perform a 90-degree push (down-elevator), and exit the maneuver inverted at the same altitude in which you entered the maneuver. Ensure that the exit
IF YOU FIND THAT YOUR MODEL IS UNABLE TO FALL BACKWARD, EVEN AFTER PROPER ORIENTATION IS ESTABLISHED, IT IS LIKELY THAT THE MODEL IS TOO NOSE-HEAVY.
radius is the same size as the one performed during the entry. To minimize corrections during a flight, you should always take advantage of the various capabilities of your programmable radio system. Fine-tune your aircraft to suit your personal preferences, and make changes in small increments until your model responds smoothly to your control inputs. That’s it. Now finetune the setup of your plane, and fly the maneuver again! Practice makes perfect.
EXIT the maneuver at the same altitude and heading but in the opposite direction as the entry. ENTER straight and level, straight into the wind.
After a short line segment, apply aileron to perform a half roll. After the half roll is complete, continue the downline the same distance as the inverted line segment just prior to the half roll. Then gently pull up-elevator to return to straight and level flight. Use enough power to maintain a constant flight speed. Release up-elevator to establish the inverted 45-degree downline. Increase speed to 85 to 100 percent power, then gently pull back elevator to establish the beginning of the loop segment of the maneuver.
ENTER maneuver straight and level, traveling into the wind. EXIT maneuver at the same point and altitude as the entry but traveling inverted in the opposite direction. After extending the upline, throttle back and maintain attitude and heading until the airplane comes to a halt and begins to slide backward. Increase power, and pull smoothly into a vertical upline. As the plane begins to fall backward, apply full down-elevator so that the plane falls in a wheels-up attitude. Once the plane has entered a vertical downline, neutralize the controls and extend the downline. Apply some power and then push down-elevator to establish a 90-degree straight and level line while inverted.