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Posted by jbourke | Feb 27, 2017 @ 03:54 PM | 7,016 Views
The Extra factory in Germany just sent me some nice pics of my new Extra 330SC. It will have to be disassembled and crated up to be sent to me so I won't be able to fly it until April, but it looks great! There are no logos on it yet but that will happen shortly after I take delivery.

I'm told that we might see a model of this airplane sometime soon!? Hmm...

Posted by jbourke | Feb 17, 2017 @ 11:27 AM | 5,370 Views
Another case of shameless self-promotion in my RCG blog but I had to share this picture of me with the new Sport Aerobatics.

It's a dream come true to fly for the US team this year!

Posted by jbourke | Feb 08, 2017 @ 01:57 PM | 5,654 Views
Having a blast at the annual RCG summit with the rcg crew.
Posted by jbourke | Feb 01, 2017 @ 05:50 PM | 5,377 Views
I'm attaching renderings of the new color scheme on my Extra 330SC which should arrive soon. The 330SC is a slightly smaller and lighter airplane compared to my two-seat Extra 330LX.

This is the plane I will take to South Africa for the World Aerobatic Championships in September.

I decided to stick with the original colors. Thanks for Mirco Pecorari of Aircraft Studio Design for his excellent work on the lines. The idea was to create a scheme that reminded us of the old scheme but looked more intense.

The logo placements aren't final and I still haven't decided whether to put Terry on the nose again.

Posted by jbourke | Nov 21, 2016 @ 02:39 PM | 6,622 Views
I haven't made an update to my blog for awhile. The truth is I've been too busy with my "full scale" flying and running my businesses to fly a lot of R/C this year.

The biggest news in my life this year is I won a spot on the US Aerobatic Team. I'm scheduled to represent the US at the World Aerobatic Championships in Hoedspruit, South Africa next summer.

The team selection took place at the US Nationals. I have videos of some of my flights so I'll paste them below. I came in fifth place overall which exceeded my expectations.

Next year I have to adjust my schedule to fit in all the training requirements. I'll have to scale back on the regional contests and the air shows a bit. It's not an easy decision but there is no point in going all the way to South Africa without a plan to succeed.

This year I've been to Florida, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Texas, California, Arizona, Washington, and all points in between. I'll attach some pictures to share some happy memories from my travels.

Jim Bourke 2016 IAC Nationals Unlimited Free Known (5 min 40 sec)

Jim Bourke 2016 IAC Nationals Unlimited Free Unknown 1 (6 min 8 sec)
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Posted by jbourke | May 07, 2016 @ 10:19 AM | 12,148 Views
Next week I'll be in Apple Valley, CA competing in my second aerobatic contest of the year.

Flying Unlimited takes a lot of practice. Here is a video of one of my recent practice flights:

Jim Bourke 2016 Unlimited Free Practice - Pilot Cam (4 min 58 sec)

Not a clean flight at all and you can see my reactions to the little mistakes.

In the video I'm flying my Unlimited Free program. We get to design these programs ourselves but after trying a few of my own creations I decided I'd be better off using Alexandre Orlowski's wonderful free program from last year's world championships. It's a very smart program.

Here is a link to it: http://aerobatics.mwebservices.net/c...s/img1s511.png

I've attached a photo of my most precious aerobatic trophy, the Borrego Bunny. I was awarded the bunny at the contest in Borrego earlier this year. This is a most coveted award that comes to you only if you screw up. In my case I got it for accidentally coming into a contest flight far, far too low to continue. I had to peel off and start over. There is no penalty for doing that except for a bit of mockery at the awards banquet. The bunny sits on my desk in my hangar to remind me of the importance of safe flying.

Posted by jbourke | May 03, 2016 @ 09:32 AM | 11,959 Views
Finally got a chance to put the single place canopy on the Extra 330LX!

I'm pretty enthusiastic about the looks. I also think the plane flies a bit better. In my freestyle sequence I have a rolling half loop and I'm noticing that I have more rudder authority. Later in the sequence I do a double hammerhead and I used to have trouble getting it to happen reliably but now it works every time. It could be I'm just getting better at the timing. Once I get comfortable with the single place set up I'll go back to the two place canopy and see if there really is a difference.

This year we sent out an invite to every RCG sponsor to get them to send us a sticker for the plane. I got several in the mail already so I slapped them on the turtledeck. Pictures attached.

There is also a contest to name the plane, which you can find here:

Lots of good entries. Keep them coming!

Would any of you like to see a model of this airplane? ?

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Posted by jbourke | Apr 12, 2016 @ 12:48 PM | 13,287 Views
Some great happenings with the RCG Extra 330LX.

First off, we are now fully logo'ed! I left the plane in Florida for the winter so some minor issues could be addressed and while it was there we had a vinyl art team dress it up. The attached pictures show it off in all its glory.

Training with Patty Wagstaff
While I was down in Florida I took some time to train with Patty Wagstaff. She was a delight to work with. She taught me about flying at low level for air shows. By the end of my training I felt comfortable doing low inverted passes and she even wrote up a nice air show routine for me which I'll be using this year. I've attached a couple of pictures of us together. I signed her hangar wall in the place reserved for air show pilots, which was quite an honor.

Won an Unlimited contest
Last weekend I entered in the Unlimited category at the aerobatic contest in Borrego Springs, CA. I came in first place and also won the freestyle event. Here are some videos:

2016 Hammerhead Roundup Unlimited Known (7 min 13 sec)

2016 Hammerhead Roundup Unlimited Free (4 min 45 sec)
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Posted by jbourke | Jun 24, 2015 @ 10:30 PM | 20,889 Views
I've spent the last week preparing for my next aerobatic contest. These pictures were taken by the local paper.


I'm now flying in the "Advanced" category which I'm finding a lot of fun. I took a video of a recent practice session. My g tolerance has grown to where I can do +9 and -5 gs without any concern.

IAC 2015 Advanced Known (3 min 28 sec)

I'm very fortunate to have a practice area at my home airport now so I should be able to prepare for the final category, Unlimited, over the summer.

Posted by jbourke | Jan 11, 2015 @ 01:54 PM | 32,128 Views
I picked up my new Extra 330LX in St. Augustine Florida last weekend and flew it home.


I arrived in Florida on Friday, January 2. I made it to Southeast Aero at about 4PM, giving me enough time to see the plane in person before they closed for the day. I met with some of the staff at Southeast Aero and went back to the hotel feeling very comfortable about working with them.

Training began on Saturday morning. I flew with Doug "Darth" Vayda, who is about as experienced an Extra pilot as you can find. People purchasing Extras from Doug also have the option of seeking training from Patty Wagstaff, who is hangared directly opposite from Southeast Aero.

I also got to see my Xtreme Decathlon, N210XD, one last time. It's in Doug's care waiting for a new buyer to come along. I hope the next owner takes good care of it.

I found Doug to be very easy to work with. From the moment I first strapped the airplane on to the point where I left St Augustine I felt comfortable and safe. I worked with Doug to learn every aspect of the plane's operation, in preparation for my long cross country to Oregon. Doug also took time to point out emergency procedures with me. For example, if a pilot forgets to switch to the acro tank before rolling upside down, the engine will stop. We simulated this to make sure I understood how much time it would take for the engine to start up again. I hope I never make that mistake but it's helpful to know what to do if it happens.
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Posted by jbourke | Oct 29, 2014 @ 11:37 AM | 35,622 Views
I'm very excited to share some pictures with you. Attached are photos of my new Extra 330LX, under construction at the Extra aircraft factory in Germany.

Readers of this website probably don't need any introduction to Extras. The 330 LX is the latest development in their line of two seat Unlimited category aircraft.

I came very close to buying the single seat 330SC but after some very helpful discussions with Jeff Boerboon, I was convinced that the LX would be the right plane for me. I occasionally need to carry a passenger and I don't predict I'll be nationally competitive for many years, if ever.

Still, I opted for the single seat canopy option. This will let me fly with the single seat canopy which lightens up the airplane, improves the aerodynamics, and also looks a lot better than the two seat canopy. With the single seat canopy in place I understand the performance is close to the 330SC. Of course there is additional weight over the SC because there is still an extra seat, controls, and a panel in there.

I went with a registration number of N330FZ. 330 is of course for 330LX. The "FZ" is for my nickname, "Fuzzy".

I worked with Italian designer Mirco Pecorari on the color scheme. I wanted something different and striking without being overly busy. We choose colors that generally match the RCGroups color scheme. Later we plan to add vinyl graphics for logos and some detail.

Enjoy the photos. More to come later.

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Posted by jbourke | Sep 19, 2014 @ 10:33 PM | 35,772 Views
I'm at the International Aerobatic Club US National Aerobatic Championships in Denison, Tx this week.

I got a practice flight in earlier today in some challenging conditions, with a 17 mph crosswind and an annoying scattered deck of clouds just low enough over the box to make things difficult.

The box is well marked for the contest but only a bit of it can be seen on Google Maps here: https://www.google.com/maps/@33.7135.../data=!3m1!1e3

Right in the center of that picture you'll see a white plus ("+") symbol painted on an inactive runway. That's the center of the box. There are two white Ts painted on the runway just north and south of that. Those are the northern and southern edges of the box. What you can't see on Google Maps are the east and west boundaries, but you can probably get the idea.

When you fly in the box you can't very well see all the markers all the time so you try to use landmarks outside the box to make sure you are lined up. In this case we have a white hangar lined up with the north edge of the box, the control tower lined up with the middle, and a red and white checkered water tower lined up with the south edge. Those are helpful markers when you are spinning or rolling around during a sequence.

It's very exciting to be here with all of these like-minded airplane-loving people. I'll try to check in with a blog entry once or twice during the competition.

I'm entered in the Intermediate category with my Xtreme Decathlon, N210XD. I'...Continue Reading
Posted by jbourke | Jul 13, 2014 @ 10:52 PM | 38,286 Views
I just got back home after three days of performing at the 2014 Arlington Fly-In in my Xtreme Decathlon. Thanks to my friend, John Smutny, for making my dream come true by inviting me to fly there.

I took a couple of videos from inside the airplane. The first is a video from my head mounted camera, taken on Friday. The second is from a camera mounted in my plane and looking back at me, taken on Thursday.

Arlington Fly-In 2014 Air Show Head Cam (14 min 37 sec)

Arlington Fly-in 2014 Cockpit (13 min 28 sec)
...Continue Reading
Posted by jbourke | Apr 25, 2014 @ 07:52 PM | 39,476 Views
I had a great time in Borrego Springs recently, competing in the Hammerhead Roundup hosted by International Aerobatics Club chapter 36. I entered the contest in my new Xtreme Decathlon in the Sportsman category.

I flew down early to get some practice time in. I got some ground coaching from Michael Church and Casey Erickson the day before the event. Thanks to their assistance I ended up flying pretty well considering it was my first contest in my new plane.

I took a video from the cockpit during one of my flights.

Xtreme Decathlon N210XD IAC Sportsman 2014 Borrego Springs (3 min 59 sec)

Since the contest I've been practicing the Intermediate figures in between the low overcast and frequent rain showers and fog we have to put up with this time of the year in Oregon.

Posted by jbourke | Nov 22, 2013 @ 02:12 PM | 47,068 Views
I just received delivery on my new Xtreme Decathlon!

See my earlier blog entry about it for more details.

I'm attaching some photos of it, some of them were sent by the factory during construction.

My thanks to Michael Ford of Flawless Car Photography for sending me the beautiful pics of the finished airplane. Michael is an RCGroups user as well as a professional photographer. I'd also like to thank Sammy Mason for his fine work ferrying the airplane to me.

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Posted by jbourke | Nov 05, 2013 @ 12:38 PM | 46,961 Views
I attended the World Aerobatic Championships in Texas a couple of weeks ago. Here are my pics from the event.

It was really nice to see the AMA was there with a booth running RealFlight simulators. This is the same trailer that was at the AirVenture event in Oshkosh. I got to meet some R/C-ers from the local club, the Texoma R/C Modelers.

Unfortunately I didn't get a lot of coverage from the event because I didn't think to call ahead and arrange for permission. I got turned away by well meaning volunteers before I finally happened on my insurance agent, Ryan Birr from Northwest Insurance Group. He got me a pass and I was able to take a few pictures before I had to get going, but I didn't have time to do any interviews with pilots or take any video of the flights.

There was no posted schedule or standings during the event that could be seen from the spectator area and the weather didn't cooperate very much, so it was a tough event to enjoy from the sidelines. If you plan on coming to an event like this be aware that competition flying is not an airshow. There were long periods without a lot of flying and there wasn't anyone assigned to tell the spectators what was going on.

Oddly enough there was a booth where they were selling t-shirts and other memorabilia but that booth was completely inaccessible from the spectator area!

I think the aerobatic community should consider doing more to encourage spectators to come to these events. We have a lot to gain...Continue Reading
Posted by jbourke | Aug 07, 2013 @ 05:05 PM | 60,642 Views
During my recent trip to Airventure in Oshkosh, WI, I found some extra time to visit the nearby American Champion factory.

The purpose of my visit was to test fly the new Xtreme Decathlon. I'm looking for a two seat certified aerobatic/cross-country airplane and the XD might fit the bill.

The new plane is an improvement on the venerable Super Decathlon (itself an upgrade from the Decathlon, born out of the Citabria, based on the Champ...whew!).

The Xtreme is very similar to the Super Decathlon in appearance, but has a number of improvements that make it a bit more suitable for competitive aerobatic flying. Namely:
  • 30 additional horsepower
  • new ailerons
  • lightweight flooring and other mods

Meanwhile the aircraft retains the features that make it such a nice all-around airplane, including real baggage space and a comfortable passenger seat.

The Xtreme Decathlon is not as powerful as the other planes I've owned but I've always been fond of the Super Decathlon and I think I'd really enjoy owning one. My thought right now is to pick up an Xtreme Decathlon and then fly it while building a Pitts S1 with some hop-up parts from Wolf Aircraft.

I arrived at the factory after a two hour drive down from Oshkosh and met with Jody Bradt, the engineer in charge of the Xtreme. Jody and the owner, Char, gave me a complete tour of the factory. I've visited a few airplane factories so I knew what to expect, but I was very impressed to see a well-organized and clean facility....Continue Reading
Posted by jbourke | Jul 24, 2013 @ 01:29 PM | 53,103 Views
It's been awhile since I blogged so let me do some catch up about recent activities:

Russian Thunder Update

I sold my Yak-54, Russian Thunder!

It was a tough decision but after flying it a bit this year I realized that it was time to move on. I'm just not flying enough to stay current with the Yak-54. I didn't feel safe taking it up once a month or so. It's not a terribly difficult airplane to fly but it is a bit on the heavy side.

Also, I started feeling like I was spending too much time at the hangar that didn't involve flying. Radial engines sound and look awesome, but they need quite a bit of ground work before and after every flight.

I put it on the market and an enthusiastic buyer snatched it up so I'm suddenly without an airplane. I'm looking at the new Xtreme Decathlon and also thinking about building a Pitts S1 with Wolf parts.

Sbach 342

I wish there was a happy ending to the story.

The Sbach 342 was totalled out and auctioned off by my insurance company. No one seemed ready to bid on it so I was going to get the wreckage back for free but on the last day of the blind auction someone stepped in and bought it. That person had a lot of advantages making the bid because I had confided my intentions to him. I understand the plane has since been repaired and is flying in air shows in the southern California area.

Unfortunately after the wreck the insurance companies would no longer insure Sbach aircraft in the US, and therefore we...Continue Reading
Posted by jbourke | May 04, 2011 @ 03:29 PM | 76,065 Views
Just got some photos in from the engine repair shop.

In June 2009 I went down to Red Bluff, California to pick up Russian Thunder after the conclusion of some extensive restoration work. I shared pictures of some of the progress in previous blog entries from that time period, so I won't go into all the details but suffice to say that the airplane was torn apart and pretty much fully rebuilt.

When I bought Russian Thunder there wasn't much info available. The previous owner had passed away and the logs were a bit skimpy. The first thing I did was peel off the sponsor decals at which point I found a fairly large gash in the side of the fuselage! It seemed after this that it was in my best interest to err on the side of caution, which is what made me decide to do the full restoration.

During this process the engine was pulled and looked over thoroughly. It looked fine and had been running well so I made the call to keep it. I had a nagging feeling that it would have been better to just order a new engine but absent some reason to trust that feeling I made the call to put the old engine back on. From the standpoint of the logs it appeared nearly new, with only 300 hours or so on it.

Unfortunately on the first test flight after the restoration the engine gave out.

Normally in Russian Thunder (or any other aircraft in this class), takeoff happens very quickly after the throttle is advanced. As I advanced the throttle and started down the runway, pushing the...Continue Reading