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I plan on getting my pilot's license next spring and purchase an aircraft. My intention is to purchase an aircraft capable of light aerobatics but with flight characteristics suitable for a beginner. I will not be jumping into aerobatics but will take my time in a safe manner. My question is are there light aerobatic aircraft that would be suitable for this scenario?

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  • $\begingroup$ Light in what sense? LSA compatible, or simply "not heavy"? $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 8, 2022 at 12:47
  • $\begingroup$ @KennSebesta I was referring to the aerobatic capabilities not the weight. Not sure what LSA refers to. $\endgroup$
    – SDH
    Commented Dec 8, 2022 at 17:40
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    $\begingroup$ LSA refers to Light Sport Aircraft, which is a category of airplanes in the EASA and FAA systems (with some slight differences). Basically, ~600kg MTOW and there are easier regulations which can apply. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 8, 2022 at 18:27

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There is the Citabria to consider.

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  • $\begingroup$ Wow, +5 gs. I would not have expected that. $\endgroup$
    – SDH
    Commented Dec 8, 2022 at 1:59
  • $\begingroup$ +1. I have competed in aerobatics competitions with a Citabria. Indeed, the 7ECA model is considered the reference airplane for the Primary category aerobatics routine. Furthermore, for a long time the Citabria was used as a primary trainer, much like the Cessna 150, so it meets requirements for ease-of-flight. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 8, 2022 at 12:45
  • $\begingroup$ @KennSebesta I just looked up the definition for that routine. That little plane can fly loops? $\endgroup$
    – SDH
    Commented Dec 8, 2022 at 21:09
  • $\begingroup$ Can and does. It's rated for loops, spins, hammerheads, half-cubans, slow rolls, and barrel rolls. I competed in an aerobatics competition this summer, flying a 7ECA. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 9, 2022 at 22:14
  • $\begingroup$ Citabria is the obvious choice if one only considers certified aircraft. But an RV-4 or RV-6 would do well too. $\endgroup$
    – zaitcev
    Commented Dec 17, 2022 at 3:21
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The Cessna A-152 Aerobat, a C152 structurally strengthened for flying aerobatics, would be a good choice as it is an honest flying aeroplane for doing positive G ‘gentleman’s’ aerobatics in. This would definitely be my first choice as there is probably going to be a lot of handling characteristics that you are familiar with from flying C152s and C172s in primary flight training.

As mentioned above, the champion Citabria and Decathalon are excellent choices as well. The Decathalon is equipped with inverted fuel and oil systems so your aerobatic capabilities are expanded quite a bit. They are also probably the easiest airplanes to transition into flying tailwheel airplanes in.

If you’re interested in going the experimental route, the Vans RV-7/8/14 are very versatile airplanes capable of aerobatic flight and can cruise as fast as 170-180 kts depending on engine choice. They can also be constructed with either conventional landing gear or a tricycle landing gear configuration, making for better performance on the ground.

One thing to consider be wary of exceeding your capabilities as a pilot, particularly early on as a newly minted private pilot. Please seek professional instruction on aerobatics and aerobatic flight before attempting this solo. There are a number of very good schools around the country, Patty Wagstaff’s school down in Saint Augustine FL is perhaps one of the best for upset recovery training, and initial aerobatic training.

Another thing to consider in this purchase as well is the cost of insurance. Any aerobatic capable airplane that can carry passengers i.e. is not a single seat airplane, is going to cost a lot for liability insurance, particularly for a beginner pilot. You can get around a lot of this by purchasing a single seat, only aircraft such as a Pitts S-1S. This airplane is a very capable aerobatic aircraft and could be had for around $50,000 if you know where to look. The downside is that it is a very demanding and temperamental tailwheel aircraft and requires a skilled pilot with solid tailwheel time to handle and keep from ground looping.

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    $\begingroup$ I was expecting a plug for the Vans Air Force. Sort of the best modern option. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 8, 2022 at 3:44
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    $\begingroup$ I was hoping someone would mention a P38 or F4U but I guess I can settle for a 152. $\endgroup$
    – SDH
    Commented Dec 8, 2022 at 5:22
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    $\begingroup$ You aren’t flying something like that fresh out of primary flight training. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 8, 2022 at 5:48
  • $\begingroup$ @CarloFelicione That is just a facetious comment. $\endgroup$
    – SDH
    Commented Dec 8, 2022 at 5:55

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