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Last Updated: Mon Jan 27 11:18:09 UTC 2014

APA Editor Flying Experience

Carlo Kopp, BE(Hons), MSc, PhD, AFAIAA, SMIEEE, PEng
9th April 2012
Updated July, 2012
Text ┐ 1994 - 2012 Carlo Kopp
Images ┐Copyright 1987 - 2012 Carlo Kopp

Dr Kopp holds a PPL but is not current at this time. Most of his command time is on the 8KCAB, a large proportion of that is aerobatic time. He holds the following ratings and endorsements:
  1. Constant Speed Prop/Retractable Undercarriage Endorsements (PA-28R/PA-44);
  2. Night VMC Rating/Multiengine (PA-44);
  3. Competition Aerobatics (1,500 ft Low Level Aerobatic Approval, issued 1992);
  4. Competition Formation (Lead Pilot/PA-28);
  5. Types Endorsed: PA-28, PA-28R, C-172, PA-44, 8KCAB incl. Super Decathlon;
  6. GA Types Flown: PA-28, PA-28R, C-172, C-150, PA-44, 8KCAB incl. Super Decathlon, Zlin Z.242L, Pitts S-2A, CA-25, CT-4A, DH-82 Tiger Moth;
  7. Civilian Simulators: A320 (courtesy of Ansett Australia);
In addition, he has flown a range of military aircraft on various demonstration sorties since 1992, as well as a number of military and civilian simulators.

First Person Observations

Military Types

Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet (Sortie Avalon 2001, 17th February)

Dual control demonstration flight. A 1.1 hr sortie involving supersonic manoeuvre, high alpha manoeuvring, touch and go landings and avionics and air intercept radar demonstration. A delightful aircraft to fly with exceptional high alpha handling. Detailed reports to be published in upcoming issues of Australian Aviation and Air Power International [Pilot report].


Boeing AH-64D Apache Longbow (Sortie Avalon 1999, February)

Gunner/Copilot station demonstration flight. A 45 minute sortie involving NOE OGE hover from standoff location. A great opportunity to play with the Longbow FCR and TADS, tracking and "engaging" highway traffic and parked aircraft using the MMWI Hellfire missiles. Detailed reports were published in issues of Australian Aviation and Air Power International [Read the report].(Photos: Peter Harding).


Pilatus PC-9/A (RAAF Laverton 1992, RAAF East Sale 1994)

Two sorties including handling familiarisation, basic aerobatic manoeuvres, combination aerobatic manoeuvres, low level flight and circuit work including several touch and goes. Picture above I am wearing a RAAF standard Nomex flying suit, G-suit, and an automatic flotation vest. Picture below shows second sortie with myself in the back seat, at East Sale in 1994.

Both of my PC-9/A sorties were provided by the RAAF to support trade journal work covering the RAAF's then new aircrew training system. My thanks to the RAAF for an enjoyable insight into this delightful aircraft. Read the pilot report.

US visitors should note that this is the Australian variant of the JPATS trainer with a derated powerplant, and different cockpit layout. It is a sheer pleasure to fly, smooth, responsive, predictable and HOT! Aileron rolls are crisp, climb rate and acceleration excellent, a very easy aircraft to aerobat well. The most notable idiosyncrasy is the need to yaw trim continuously with power adjustments, not unlike WW2 piston fighters, also pitch rates are quite modest due the long nose. The aircraft exhibits similar power loading and climb rate numbers to the P-51 or late model Spitfire, but is substantially lighter and has a lower wing loading.

GD F-111C / Pave Tack Simulator (RAAF Amberley - 1995, 1998)

Handling familiarisation of aircraft with a range of sweep settings and airspeeds (360 degree rolls, windup turns, pitch couples), high speed supersonic flight, recovery of compressor stalls and toss bombing with low level entry from TFR, including sliceback escape manoeuvre. Operation of APQ-165 attack radar and AVQ-26 Pave Tack, including level delivery against airfield target, using GBU-10 laser guided bombs (photos RAAF, Thales). Subsequent two sorties on a followup visit whilst vacationing in Brisbane, 1998. Read the report.

Without doubt the smoothest and best handling large aircraft I have ever had the pleasure to fly. A predictable instrument platform, with crisp response in all axes, perfectly damped, with the best IFR instrument cluster layout I have ever seen. The aircraft rolls and pitches very nicely, and is very easy to fly precisely in basic aerobatic manoeuvres, and at low level. At no time is it obvious that you are handling a 100,000 lb gross weight  bomber, the aircraft exhibits fighter like handling through most of the envelope. Pig drivers tell me that the real thing is even nicer than the simulator. Read the report.

AN/APQ-165 Attack Radar imagery above, AN/AVQ-26 Pave Tack thermal imagery below (photos 82WG RAAF).

GD F-111C Simulator (RAAF Amberley - 1983)

Simulated sortie from Navigator's station including autobomb blind radar attack on shipping and bridge targets using AJQ-20A nav attack and APQ-113 attack radar. Weapons delivered 4 x Mk.84 LDGP Snake Eye. Read the report.

Face stuck to the scope, orange phospor glowing, a pleasurable introduction to the trade of the Navigator (or Whizzo in the USAF). Blind bombing is hard work to do well, and it took plenty of effort to put the Snakes on target! Two times Delta Hotel, I am happy to say... (photo Carlo Kopp)

Lockheed-Martin Joint Strike Fighter  Simulator (Avalon, 2003)

Joint Strike Fighter

The Joint Strike Fighter  compares in handling and performance very closely to the F/A-18F - the simulator strongly reflects the design spec requirement to deliver similar handling and performance to the F-16C and F/A-18. The most notable feature of the JSF from a pilot's perspective is the superb 'soft' digital cockpit, where a single projected screen replaces the traditional instrument panel. System and display modes are invoked using either HOTAS controls or by using the touchscreen function on the instrument panel. The demonstration flight lasted close to 45 minutes, during which time I performed vertical takeoffs, landings, hover, a simulated intercept and JDAM drop, and some edge of the envelope manoeuvre - pulling the JSF into the vertical until it departed and recovering the aircraft. A very comfortable aircraft to handle and easy cockpit to operate after a mere 15 minutes of practice, but limited in top end aerodynamic performance as expected. Not quite an F-105D Thunderchief.

General Aviation Types

Zlin Z.242L

The Czech Zlin Z.242 is a former Warpac ab-initio military and aerobatic trainer. Aussie visitors might note that it is much like a more refined and very polished CT-4A. The current export Z.242L is powered by a 200 HP IO360 with a 3 bladed constant speed prop. Side by side seating and stick controls are standard. This aircraft exhibits control harmonisation and handling more typical of larger military trainers, like the PC9/A, but is much slower and less powerful. The aircraft is by far the nicest GA type I have flown, and is well suited to intermediate and many advanced competition manoeuvres. It feels like a real aeroplane.

Zlin Z.242
(Manufacturer Photos)

CT-4A Airtrainer / Parrot

I flew an RAAF CT-4A in 1991. The overall impression is of an aircraft which is very pleasant to aerobat and requiring little effort to manoeuvre well, any reasonably experienced aerobatic pilot will find it both easy and comfortable to learn. The controls are sufficiently sensitive to provide for precise handling through the manoeuvre, without the poor damping which is characteristic of some civilian aerobatic trainers. Read the report.

1 FTS CT-4A Parrot at RAAF Point Cook in 1991 (┐ 1991 - 2010 Carlo Kopp; M645/1000S).

Pitts S-2A

I did one hour of dual time in Pitts S-2A VH-SZA intending to do a type endorsement. The aircraft tragically crashed a week later, killing a friend and also my former instructor. I was impressed with the responsiveness and low control damping in the Pitts S-2A, but the static stability margin was very tight. Landings are reminiscent of accounts of Bf-109 and Spitfire landings, narrow and frail undercarriage, and a need to slideslip all the way into the flare. The S-2 is built for competition work, and type conversion, and is an excellent performer across the envelope, but also not a forgiving aircraft. Depicted is VH-UPU, acquired by GFS as an advanced aerobatic trainer.

Bellanca 8KCAB, Moorabbin Airport, 1993

Taxiing out for some aerobatic practice at Moorabbin in Decathlon VH-SAR.
Super Decathlon VH-XUK at Jandakot - maintaining  aerobatic proficiency whilst vacationing in Perth.

Decathlon VH-CUM - my favourite of the two GFS Decathlons at Moorabbin.

The 8KCAB is rather underpowered, has a narrow range of useful airspeeds (ie low Vne) and is thus very demanding of good energy management in manoeuvres. You only need to pull half a G beyond the optimum for the manoeuvre and you will start bleeding energy very quickly. A fun game to play were very steep sideslipping final approaches, straightening out at the last moment for a flare and touchdown. An easy aeroplane to fly poorly and a demanding one to fly exceptionally well.

8KCAB Portrait 1992

Piper PA-28 Warriors, Melbourne, 1993

This pair of Warriors is one arm of a 5-Vic formation, during a demonstration formation flypast. I have flown many sorties as lead pilot for formations of up to 10 aircraft, and under these conditions achieving the required smoothness in aircraft handling can be quite demanding, especially with an mediocre handling and underpowered aircraft like a PA-28, on a hot and bumpy day. Give me a PC-9 or JPATS any day!

Piper PA-28R Arrow III/IV, Melbourne, 1990

I did my constant speed prop and retractable undercarriage endorsements on the Arrow, flying both the conventional Arrow III and T-tail Arrow IV variants. I was disappointed with the Arrow, as performance was only marginally better than the Warrior, despite the retractable gear and constant speed props.

Piper PA-44 Seminole, 1990 - 1993

All of my twin training and some portion of my NVFR and IFR training was flown on the Seminole. The Seminole is fun to fly, although the increased moment of inertia in roll is quickly felt, compared to a single of similar mass, often requiring a stab of opposite aileron to effect a sharp recovery. A nice basic twin trainer and a pleasure to fly IFR/NVMC intercepts in.

MFS Seminole in July, 2012.

DH-82 Tiger Moth, circa 1992

After hearing so many extol the virtues of the Tiger Moth, I was deeply disappointed when I had the opportunity to actually aerobat one. The Moth is terribly underpowered, draggy, has poor aileron authority, exacerbated by a large moment of inertia in roll, and overly sensitive elevator and rudder controls. Arguably the most poorly harmonised controls in any type I have ever flown. Spinning the Moth was an interesting challenge in its own right. Depicted above the aircraft flown. I regard the Moth to be a 'pet hate'.

De Havilland DH-82A Tiger Moth II in July, 2012 [Click for HD Background]

CAC CA-25 Winjeel

In 1990 I did about 20 minutes of dual time in this Winjeel. My first exposure to a military trainer of that generation. Compared to GA aircraft, a bit like driving a truck.

Cessna 172, 1992

Image 2012

My other 'pet hate' in GA types is the Cessna 172. I have never understood why the 172 was so popular, given its mediocre handling, poor upper hemisphere visibility and general clumsiness.

Cessna 150, 1991

Image 2012

I did one hop in the 150 and having flown the 8KCAB previously, was decidedly unimpressed with the handling, but especially lack of power in this basic aerobatic trainer. It loses far too much altitude in basic manouevres.

General Aviation Imagery (I)

General Aviation Imagery (II)

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