Freestyle Flight - The Last Frontier
Freestyle Flight - The Last Frontier
For a while there I was beginning to feel that I had just about done it all when it came to slope soaring. The learning curve was bound to flatten out after 30 years. I did my standard rolls and close in stuff. I liked catching and finding innovative ways to launch.
It wasn’t that I didn’t find the same kind of satisfaction I had always found when I arrived at the slopes. There was the constant evaluation of the wind conditions, both on the Internet and the well-known signposts of swinging trees and waving flags. Of course, there was always the “pre-flight” anticipation as you loaded your car in preparation. Finally, arriving at the slope site, that feeling that it was going to be a good session.
I had always pressed the envelope, trying new moves until I either mastered them or went home with planes that had somehow returned to “kit form.” I usually brought three planes out with me. I had always said that if I didn’t return home with at least two of them trashed, I wasn’t pushing the envelope.
What was there left to do?
One evening while I was touring YouTube, checking out all of the different flight videos, I ran into this unique flying style that seemed so different from anything I had seen before. It was a video of a larger composite sloper performing slow and graceful maneuvers close to the pilot. He was executing slow rolls and extended inverted moves that seemed almost ballet-like. I learned it was called VTPR.
I began to research other videos that demonstrated this style of flying. I found that most of the videos were from overseas. Specifically from France.
While I was somewhat drawn to this style, I didn’t totally embrace it. There was just something that seemed to be missing. I mean, it was graceful and beautiful to watch. However, at least for me, it lacked a certain excitement that I was used to. Anyway, the planes that they seemed to be using were ones that didn’t fit my idea of “pushing the envelope” sloping.
Still, I was intrigued. My interest in this style of flying grew as I continued to log hours reviewing different videos.
One day, I ran into a video called “Madslide.” It was by Benoit Paysant-Le Roux...yes, another Frenchman. I was amazed at what this seasoned pilot could do with his plane. I had never seen flying like this. He was performing flat spins (which I thought were only achievable by accident). He also did this move which was essentially a “loop in place.” I have since learned that it is called a “floop” or “flop.” Whatever you call it, it was innovative and demonstrated an alternative...a new axis as it were.
What differentiated this “Madslide” style of flying from your typical VTPR style was that it incorporated all of the grace and ballet-like of the VTPR seen with the larger planes, but it had the added feature of complex combinations. Here, there was no need for blinding fast rolls and the typical high speed herky-jerky style seen on most American slopes. It demanded a higher level of proficiency and a plane capable of four-axis flight.
Most importantly, this style of flying offered an opportunity for infinite creativity far beyond anything I had experienced before. I suddenly felt like the doors had opened in front of me. Here was a chance to be challenged again, an opportunity to create.
Four-axis flight has been around for a long time. However, for me, it is new and exciting. How it escaped me for so long, is a mystery to me. I had always attempted a similar style with 2 axis flight and I believe that to some extent, I had mastered it.
Now, I have a new challenge...Freestyle Flight.
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