Plane & Pilot
Monday, October 1, 2007

Bad Girl

Flying Patty Wagstaff’s “girly” Extra 300S

Flight Three: In The Box
I wanted to fly two additional, familiar sequences to again compare the performance with my Pitts and to let me evaluate this airplane against some "known territory."

I did some warm-up maneuvers first. The wing fuel was finally gone, so I got to quantify the vertical performance. From 185 knots at 6 G's at the pull, the altimeter showed 2,000 feet of vertical. Increasing that to the 220-knot red line at 6.5 G's yielded 2,500 feet AGL before a quick hammerhead.

The first sequence was the proposed 2007 Intermediate sequence, which includes such maneuvers as an Immelmann with a two-point roll on top, a snap roll, a hammerhead with a 1⁄4 roll on the upline and a shark's tooth with a two-point roll on the 45-degree downline. (I found this routine fun to fly.)

My personal solo sequence usually includes eight minutes of 29 air show maneuvers. Rather than a list of figures, let me say that overall, I was impressed with how easy the routine was to fly in the monoplane. While it's all I can do to squeeze this sequence out of the S2A, the 300S left me with enough surplus energy to spontaneously add rolls here and there. The "set time" between maneuvers, or between segments of the maneuvers themselves, was much longer. This, in turn, made the rhythm of the sequence less hectic and more deliberate. The contrast between the Pitts and the Extra was the difference between work and play.

Then, for fun, I flew spontaneous figures as the plane moved through the aerobatic box. If the altitude got low, I used a maneuver that gained it. If the speed was high, I was able to draw long up-lines or perform multiple snap rolls on top. With the capability of the 300S, it was easy to string a sequence together that utilized each and every corner of the box in an ebb and flow. All in all, it was a great way to end our brief time together. The landing even worked out well.

Is this 300S a bad girl? Yeah. But is she "girly"? Let's see...electrically adjusted rudder pedals? Girly. Rudder pedal stirrups? Not girly. Autopilot turn coordinator—with no autopilot? Girly. Blinding control response? Not girly. Weather strike finder? Girly. All-attitude military-style mini-horizon gyro? Not girly.

If this plane were a woman, she'd wear black leather and ride a Harley. She could bench-press 250. If you're nice to her, she might show you her tattoo; if you're not nice, she might just punch you in the face.

So it would be worth your while to treat her well and learn her ways. She'll respond to respectful handling and repay you in kind. She may be "bad," she may be a "girl," but she's definitely not girly. She's all woman, all business and worth every minute.


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