Newly-Minted Private Pilot Gives Aerobatics a “Spin”


Been there, done that! There’s nothing like it. During my surgical internship and anesthesia residency, I actually bought a kit airplane - a Christen Eagle. It is a small biplane, very much like the Pitts, but with a few modern design improvements. Somehow, I completed the 22 foot one-piece upper wing in my bedroom during residency. I then carted from Pittsburgh in a U-Haul to my first job in Harrisburg. Over then next 2 years, I built it all, except for the cover and paint.

I became friends with a club of 4 experienced pilots and aircraft builders soon after arrival in Harrisburg. They has started well before me and it turned out it took 4 of them 3 years to cover and paint the Eagle!. I then sold my all-but completed kit and - about 2 years later, bought theirs from them. I flew it - very carefully, as it is very unstable - until I needed the cash to go to law school. That temporary insanity is another story. I enjoyed that plane a lot and survived it.

I sold it delivered it to Jacksonville FL. About a year later, I learned that the new owner had had a close call. It seems the propeller threw a blade. He was such an excellent pilot that he was able to pull the power to idle (failure to do so results in the unbalanced remaining prop blade creating massive vibration which will cause the entire engine to detach from its mounts). Engine detachment creates a tremendous imbalance, such that the aircraft cannot glide; rather, it falls like a leaf. This guy was not only skilled, but lucky. He happened to be very near Frederick MD airport, where he landed safely. There’s a good chance that, had that been me, I would not have survived the event.