Transitioning to a biplane

Discussion in 'Pitts' started by Mmalone442, Sep 8, 2018.

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  1. Sep 8, 2018 #1

    Mmalone442

    Mmalone442

    Mmalone442

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    So I have a newbie question transitioning into biplanes especially the Pitts. In light of the recent Acroduster accident I wanted to throw out a general question on the best way to transition into these “squirrelly “ little planes. I have several thousand hours in singles and multies, about 250 TW, and have always wanted a Pitts. After 4 hours in a friends Skybolt I was indeed humbled and the reality of some serious transition training became painfully clear. Looking at the going rate for 10 hrs with the Gurus, Bud etc... I feel that more time and experience may still be warranted. Someone on this forum mentioned getting a hundred hours of takeoffs and landings in a Luscombe or something similar before spending the money on Pitts transition training.

    I figured this is the place for expert biplane advice.

    Thanks all!

    Mark
     
  2. Sep 8, 2018 #2

    jrs14855

    jrs14855

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    Luscombes are going quite cheap. I don't know why. Cessna 120/140 just a bit more. In both cases the show planes are usually double the lower priced ones. The Luscombe is my choice for transitioning to any higher performance biplane. Most of the other older taildraggers are just too easy to land.
    But in the long run you will be looking at 7 hrs of Pitts dual instead of 10 plus. 10 hours in the Pitts should also include the spin training.
    Your experience in the Skybolt really doesn't mean much. No two are exactly alike. It is very easy to make a minor construction error on the landing gear that will make ground handling much more difficult. With a factory Pitts this is less likely.
    Are you considering S1 or S2??
     
  3. Sep 8, 2018 #3

    cgzro

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    You can learn a lot from the back seat of a Citabria or Decathlon with tires at high pressure on a narrow runway with a crosswind and somebody in front blocking your view! Then get some front seat B time.
     
  4. Sep 8, 2018 #4

    Ralsmark

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    You have not stated if your objective is to fly the single seat or two seat Pitts, but I expect you intend to solo the single seater. I recently did transition training to get ready to fly my IO-540 powered Skybolt, which I now have a grand total of 14 hours in. I started with about 600 hours total SEL time with about 13 hours in C-120, Aeronca Champ and Citabria. I did 5.2 hours and 60 landings dual in the Pitts S2B before I felt confident enough to solo the Skybolt. I did not feel a need to get dual in the Skybolt before flying that, and it turned out for me that the Skybolt felt easier to fly than Pitts S2B. I read that Budd Davisson tells his students to plan on 10 hours of dual in S2B in order to master it. And my insurance company wanted me to have at least 5 hours dual in Skybolt or Pitts before soloing the Skybolt.

    As far as differences training, the biggest challenges for me were to acclimate to the higher sink rate and steeper glide slope of the Pitts, the close-in 180 degree approach, and the different visual cues on roundout and flare when compared to the other TW airplanes I had flown. If I had been preparing to fly the single seat Pitts, I think I would have considered getting more dual in S2B and to rely more on my instructor to help me decide on readiness to move on to the single seater.

    Mark R
     
  5. Sep 9, 2018 #5

    EAABipe40FF

    EAABipe40FF

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    I'm not sure the recent Acroduster incident should count for much. At least not for a seasoned pilot with with any normal judgment. Most of us are not looking for a Darwin award(May they RIP) There are many paths to the back(or only) seat of a biplane.

    My route to sitting in a S1C was a couple 100 hours TW and a good mentor and FLYING OFF OF GRASS!! I had 200 hours in a C120 and 50 in a O1D Bird dog. Frankly landing the Pitts was never an issue although my first TO was scary as was my earlier high speed taxi. Insurance didn't seem to be an issue back then in a single place w/o hull. Pay up and go fly.

    If on grass with good judgment one can approach the Pitts like any other TW aircraft. Start on nice calm days and work up to wind/x-wind. After 50-100 landings then transition yourself to hard surface. Just another way to pay your dues....

    Of coarse spin/upset recovery DUAL is another issue and is absolutely necessary before even basic acro.

    Always be aware of the high drag-high sink rate. Keep your speed up, it will slow down as you flair. If you get bent out of shape, left hand forward gets instant response in a S1 anyway. I only have a couple hours in a S2C and it seemed less responsive but a go around would probably get you out of all but the worst botched landings.

    The only formal check0ut I even had was in my first TW aircraft the Bird Dog. All the rest I "simply" approached like a coiled rattlesnake starting out on calm days and always off the grass. Except for my C12o. It was too wet at my home base and I shot some landings at FDK on the way home and had to land on a hard surface runway close by before I took her home. I figured it would be calmer than the O1 and it was.

    I'm not against dual but I wonder if 10 hours in a S2 isn't an overkill for many pilots?

    YMMV

    Jack
     
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  6. Sep 9, 2018 #6

    Mmalone442

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    The single seat Pitts is my ultimate goal. All of my time has been in Citabrias and Cubs. From a standpoint of transitioning it looks like taking the long road of buying a cheap Luscombe to pound around the pattern in and then taking training in an S2B may be a little overkill. However most of my TW time was 20 yrs ago.

    Thanks for the input
     
  7. Sep 9, 2018 #7

    ssmdive

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    Don't try to reinvent the wheel. Go get a Pitts checkout and when that is done, you are ready. Might be 6 hours, might be 60. Just get a checkout.

    Flying rear seat in a Citabria/Decathlon. Helps. Flying a Luscome... I am sure it helps. Flying a Skybolt.... I'd bet it helps. But the only thing that really does it is a checkout.

    I had 100 TW and 300 TT when I got a Pitts. I felt ready to solo my S1 in about 6 hours. Unlike some... I actually prefer pavement over grass, but I am betting I am the outlier - I find pavement easier because I can see drift faster than on grass, no doubt that grass is easier based on physics.

    Just get a checkout, it is money well spent.
     
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  8. Sep 9, 2018 #8

    TFF1

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    I would spend the money on Pitts duel. A Luscome is a light substitute just because it takes some foot work on the ground. It does not fly like a Biplane. Getting use to the speed, drag, and vertical speed is what you are after besides the ground.
     
  9. Sep 9, 2018 #9

    dylanxpeters

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    I got 100hrs in my Luscombe. After that I checked myself out in a 180hp Mustang two, which is similar to a RV6/7. That was for the most part non eventful. The power on takeoff was pretty exciting, even compared to the Super D I fly with a friend here and here. I Also checked myself out solo in a J3 cub with 85hp. Less responsive then the Luscombe, gave me a little trouble but after 5hours no issues.

    I won’t fly my S-1C (it’s under construction) without at least 5-10hrs in a 2seater. The sink rate and speeds over the numbers is going to be an eye opener. The round wing pitts even more.

    The Luscombe has a long wing that floats. Gives you years of time to nail her onto a wheel landing or a 3pt, whatever floats your boat. I would have to say that’s the opposite of a pitts.

    In my opinion, with already having tailwheel endorsement + understanding, you probably don’t need to buy an airplane to transition into a pitts. Buy a pitts and get 8-10hrs dual and you should be good to go!
     
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  10. Sep 9, 2018 #10

    CapnWolfe

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    I own both the C-140 and a Skybolt and I give instruction in both, and I have flown a Citabria, but I would say that if your goal is to fly a Pitts - invest in good dual in a Pitts rather than another airplane (unless this is just an excuse to get two airplanes... which in that case I totally support!). The C140 is a sweetheart and very, very forgiving and lands/flys nothing like the Skybolt. The Skybolt is a very different sight picture. Although the skills from Skybolt to Pitts might be transferable, it's always dependent on the person, and nothing beats time in type. And, "You can Always Go around!"


    Now that you have that song stuck in your head, You're Welcome. :cool:

    Today, I would say that tailwheel aircraft (particularly biplanes) should almost be considered in the same vein as type ratings - Getting a type in a 767 might get you big jet time, but it won't help you fly an Airbus 321. Since tailwheels are more a rare breed, and primary training is rarely completed in them... Treat tailwheels like type ratings and you can't really go wrong.

    Overall, dual time in a Pitts would be my 2 cents (whatever time it takes to get you comfortable), which adjusted for inflation... is worth just about as much as my advice. :)
     
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  11. Sep 9, 2018 #11

    Mmalone442

    Mmalone442

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    Capt Wolfe. Nicely done. And now that you outed me, I definitely was trying to get the two planes. :) That being said, it looks like there is no easy way around getting the needed dual in the Pitts right before my purchase. With a pocket full of types I get the analogy. I appreciate everyone weighing in with the great input!
     
  12. Sep 13, 2018 #12

    Bimmer335

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    Steve Wolf always mentioned the PA-16 I grew up flying was a great Pitts trainer. Mentioned the luscumbe as well. The Pitts would land like any other TW if you could see out of it...just practice slips to 5 ft and landing transition and you’ll do great after a Pitts Checkout!
     
  13. Sep 14, 2018 #13

    Dennis Flamini

    Dennis Flamini

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    You should ask Matt, every landing is the same!
     
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  14. Sep 14, 2018 #14

    EAABipe40FF

    EAABipe40FF

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    To take Bimmer335's, "just practice slips to 5 ft and landing transition... " to it's conclusion and a Pitts from there simply lands itself.

    That's what I found anyway. But most try to make a fight out of it.

    Jack
     

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