After a brief meeting I jumped in the Extra to get the camp started. I had not met Sergei and he wanted to get a feel for my abilities in the airplane. It did not take him long to determine that I have a lot of work ahead of me. It is amazing to me that no matter what I think I know about aerobatics there is so much more to learn.
Klein joined us at the camp later in the day and flew a warm up flight as well. The two of us had Sergei to ourselves for the first couple days and Wednesday afternoon Michael was able to join for a flight. We were hopeful Tim Just was going to be able to make the trip to Marana, however his airplane was down for maintenance and he was unable to break away from work. Tim is very enthusiastic about the team and is working hard now so he will be able to participate at the next camp.
Team Manager Mike Steveson drove down from Phoenix on Tuesday and Thursday to oversee the camp and get to know Sergei. Mike and I have trained together for over ten years and I think it was eye-opening for both of us as to the effort that will be needed in our quest for gold medals. Sergei had so many insightful ideas as to how and what to train, and right from the beginning of the camp we had to break down to the basics and start over on many techniques to get a strong foundation to build on.
One element of the training camp that is new to me is the use of onboard video cameras. We were fortunate to have the support of Patrick Carter from NFlightcam.com who attended the camp all week to get the cameras set up and figure the best placement to get the most out of the training. As it turned out the cameras are a great tool for training. After every flight we reviewed the footage with Sergei to go over the finer points of the flight. I found that being able to connect the camera to the aircraft radio to capture the audio of the critique with the video was very useful. Thank you Patrick for your support, it will go a long way to improve our flying.
In all, the three of use flew a total of 35 training flights during the week. We worked on the known, free and unknown elements paying particular attention to presentation and the character of snap rolls. Like I mentioned earlier, we had to go back to basics to develop better techniques and a more regimented way to train.
On Thursday my wife Maria drove down from Phoenix to watch a training flight and to go to dinner with the gang. We had a great time going over plans for what we were going to do between camps and how we are planning on keeping Sergei busy. Maria spent most of the night talking with Michael’s son John about rockets. The food was good and it was nice to have Maria in town.
Friday the 11th was my last day with Sergei. After the morning practice session and debrief I loaded the Extra and flew to Laredo, Texas to fly in the WBCA Airshow. The weather could not have been any better and it was a great way to end the week of hard training.
On Monday the 14th Sergei flew to Charlotte to meet with Goody Thomas and Rob Holland for three days of training before heading back to Russia. Goody will be flying the Extra 330SC and Rob the MX. As I am writing this they are working on their last day of training and I am looking forward to their report. I think we did a fantastic job in recruiting Sergei as our coach and I can’t wait for the next camp.