Dancing with Foxes
Last weekend I got a fantastic opportunity to fly one of only two MDM-1 Fox aerobatic gliders in the country. The Fox is very different to other gliders, its short wings and enormous control surfaces make it ideal for aerobatics but poor at cross-country flying. It has a double spar in the wing allow it to fly faster and at greater G-forces than any other glider, I have flow in before.
I was flying with one of the Fox’s owner and aerobatics instructor George Rizk, I must admit I was a little nervous but George immediate put me at easy by introducing his 15 year old son and national aerobatics champion Robbie.
After a long briefing on the ground, we towed to 4,000 ft above the airfield and began. As soon as the tug was clear. We were in a 45-degree dive. “CHECK”, shouts George “look over the nose, 110 knots, CHECK.” We pull level, every move in the Fox is instant, and there is no delay between, thought and action. Then George pulled us up into a vertical climb to do a tail slide.
Using the wires on the wing tips George is able to judge the climb angle perfectly. The Fox rises straight up for a few seconds, and then starts to slide backwards. Within the blink of an eye, the glider is nose down and we dive straight at the ground before pulling level.
We climb up at 45-degrees to regain some height get rid of the excess speed before another 45-degree dive. This time as we level George rolls the glider inverted and shouts “YOU HAVE CONTROL” my job was to push the stick hard forward and get used to the correct flying attitude when flying. I dangled from my straps as the blood rushed to my head and the ground moved above me in a blur. Then George took control and righted the glider. I took control again, this time I had both ailerons and elevator to worry about. Flying level at 110 knots, I heave the stick to the right with both hands easing it forward as we become inverted before centralising it as the wings become level, my first full roll. For the third attempt I take all three controls, now I must add full left rudder after the first quarter of the roll to keep the nose up as the glider goes round. By now, my brain is completely overloaded and halfway round the roll I hesitate holding the glider inverted and George has to push the stick to complete the roll.
By now we are getting too low for teaching so George takes over and demonstrates some more manoeuvres like the stall turn.
After landing, I was shaking and my stomach was still churning, so I took a long time to recuperate before the second flight. This time we practiced the roll again and then George finished up with another stall turn, a flick roll, and a loop.
By the end of the flight, my body was pleading to stay on the ground, my stomach was churning, and my brain was completely overloaded. Nevertheless, it was easily the best fun I have ever had in a glider.
I would like to thank George Rizk and all the members of Buckminster Gliding Club for an unforgettable day.
The pictures in this post are from the The Handbook of Glider Aerobatics - Mallinson & Wollard 1999