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224. Display Practice


There’s been an unexpected hole in the weather today – a break while the wind changed from strong northeasterlies to strong southerlies, and I’ve been able to take advantage of it to have my first go at practising display flying, with the acknowledged master – Dodge Bailey, Chief Test Pilot of the Shuttleworth Collection.

2015-06-19 Bristol Scout Dodge Bailey

Dodge, as you may remember, did the bulk of the test flying on the Scout, and is the most charming, modest, and capable pilot I ever hope to meet.

I’d flown across to Old Warden in my Escapade, and the plan was to carry out today’s flying in it, rather than the Scout, because it is cheaper, because it’s a two seater, and because its performance is so similar in performance to the Scout.

We discussed the legal and theoretical aspects first; given the pretty limited capabilities of the Scout, this is relatively straightforward.

Then we took the Scout up to a couple of thousand feet, and Dodge asked me to demonstrate a variety of stalls, and then he had a go at some wingovers, and extreme sideslips, during which he pulled the stick right aft to see if there was any way he could provoke it into a spin.

He couldn’t. ‘It’s a very benign little aeroplane’, he said. Just what I thought.

Reality Escapade

Reality Escapade

After that we went back to the strip, announcing that we were going to do a practice display, and he did a couple of figures of eight, demonstrating the importance of assessing the wind direction, and the variations possible in one’s display. Then it was my turn, and we tried at 200ft, and then down to 100ft, and I started to be able to judge the difference between the two. (The trees next to the runway are about 100ft high, which is a great help!)

Down for lunch, and then another go – this time doing a timed display, exactly 7 minutes from takeoff to landing. With Dodge’s help we achieved it, and I felt I’d learned an enormous amount from those two sessions.

The importance of being able to do tight turns at low level in complete safety is absolutely paramount; it’s no good wandering all over the countryside because the audience will have gone for a hamburger by the time you get back.

The judgement of height is absolutely critical – it’s possible to look at your altimeter, but there really isn’t a lot of time, so it needs to be mostly by eye.

And timing – you absolutely must take off and land on time, and I know I’m going to have to get a wrist watch with a nice big face so that I can refer to it quickly during the display.

It’s clear I need to get much more familiar with more extreme manoeuvring with the Scout before I can confidently  try this sort of thing at low level.

And Dodge wants me to have one more go at a practice display in the Escapade before having a go in the Scout – something with which I absolutely agree.

But I believe it’s possible now; I felt ahead of the aircraft at all times and while I can certainly do a lot better, I believe it should be possible to get to the required standard.


From → Shows

  1. > Then we took the Scout up to a couple of thousand feet, and Dodge asked me to demonstrate

    Did you mean Escapade?

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