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ACRO E-mail Archive Thread: Misconceptions


Thread: Misconceptions

Message: Misconceptions

Follow-Up To: ACRO Email list (for List Members only)

From: Damon Wack <71034.2200 at CompuServe.COM>

Date: Sun, 28 Apr 1996 22:48:24 UTC


  >>I am surprised that anyone who has read my web page could interpret it as
saying that 
all Intermediate pilots are somehow better than all Sportsman pilots. The
article suggests 
instead that, given equivalent aircraft and proper judging, a pilot who scores
80% in 
Intermediate has shown more flying skill than someone scoring 80% in Sportsman,
and that that
accomplishment should be recognized. The proposed scoring method does gives an
advantage to 
higher categories, since more points can be earned per figure, but the pilot
must capitalize on
it by flying well.<<

Dennis, I have never seen your web page, I got what I quoted off of a message
you posted to the IAC Exploder on Friday, so I had no way of knowing it was from
a larger context.  I apologize if it seemed I was quoting you out of context.

I do agree it is more demanding on the pilot and aircraft to fly well in the
more complex category, but I don't see the point in the comparison.  It seems to
me the accomplishment of "moving up" is recognized intrisically with the move to
the more challenging category.  I don't think there is a need to say a pilot
from one category is more skilled than a pilot in another, even if thay are
flying the same equipment.  

Having said that, let me try to clear up what may be some misconceptions of what
I said about higher performance equipment.

My point is not to say that the folks flying the high performance birds don't
have an advantage, they do indeed!  But I disagree that everyone else is
immediately relegated to being "non-competitive" as soon as one shows up at a
contest.  At least that's the phrase I keep seeing used here.  If you don't have
a Sukhoi or an Extra 300, you are only at a disadvantage, not out of the race!

Look, if you have an S1 Pitts with a 200hp engine that weighs, say, 1000# at
gross, and an Extra 300s that weighs 1500#, they both have exactly the same
horsepower to weight ratio.  Put a 230hp in the Pitts and you have got a real
performer.  Some wings on the Pitts give at least as fast a roll rate as the
Extras and Suks, too.  Steve Jackovitch's little Pitts is one of the most
awesome flying machines I have ever seen!  Any of these planes can be had for
1/6 to 1/4 the price of a new Extra, I'll bet.  (maybe not Steve's, but close

I think by far the *biggest* advantage the monoplanes have is not raw power
performance, but the way they look in the box.  They present better (or easier,
maybe) to the judges.  That is why I bought one.  I couldn't afford the higher
priced ones, but I felt the real advantage is not in horsepower but
presentation, so a 4 cylinder is just fine with me.  And, as I said earlier, I
can afford to practice more now than with my S2B.  If I could afford one, I
would probably buy an Extra 300s or Cap 232, because I would like the extra
performance, but I still feel I can be competitive in this country in the 4

I also think the performance edge the of expensive planes diminshes greatly as
you drop down in categories.  I think it is quite possible for a well-flown
Decathlon or Citabria or Cub type to wax *anything* in Sportsman.  I think a
well-flown S1, S2A or S2B can easily win any category through Advanced, I have
seen all of these things happen, and fairly regularly to boot.  It is admittedly
not as easy for a Pitts to win in Unlimited any more, but they are by no means
out of the competition.  And the real fault here lies with the judging, not the
performance of the aircraft. (But that's another topic altogether!<G>)

My point is if you are a pilot with Unlimited skills and ambitions, but a
Decathlon pocketbook, do not despair!  For the price of decent Decathlon you can
have a nice S1 Pitts, and then practice as much as you can afford.  Want more
performance?  Learn how to build, and build yourself some wings that roll
faster.  All the less expensive planes are Experimental, so with some effort on
your part and an understanding and helpful mechanic, many modifications can be
done relatively inexpensively.  Engine mods may be more expensive and/or
difficult, but I bet that could be done as well.  Fly a lot of contests.  Sure,
the guy with money has an advantage, but you may have one he does not: AMBITION!
If you do well enough, a sponsor might become interested in putting you in their
fancy new airplane!  Robert Armstrong is a prime example.  It took him YEARS to
get where is is now, and untold sacrifice in time and effort.  He's earned it. 

I know what you are saying: most of us have jobs, and families; and don't have
the extra money or time to practice everyday, or rebuild our aircraft, so let's
change the rules so it won't take as much time, money, and effort for the rest
of us to be competitive.  *But changing the rules won't make you a better
pilot!*  Whereas the extra effort might.  

You are right, people drop out of the sport because of the time, money and
effort it demands.  So I see your point, and it is a good one.  But you know, I
think that those who do not make a major personal investment (and I am not
talking about money here) in the sport will never do all that well, anyway.
Even the guys with the fattest pocketbooks, and fastest airplanes.

I don't know, man, I understand your frustration, but it seems like you are
trying to make more scientific what to me is art, and the qualitiative judgement
of art is always *extremely* subjective.  Heck, I'm a National judge, and I try
to be as good as I can at judging, but the guys I pick to win don't always come
out on top!  Other folks must be seeing something different!  (Or are blind.
However, that's a subject for another post, entirely!<G>)




© Dr. Günther Eichhorn
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