It’s that time of year again and people are beginning to gear up for the upcoming 2013 competition season. With that said, there are many things to consider as you ramp back up. How is your airplane? Any squawks during the annual? Has it been looked at closely since it was buttoned up for winter? Be sure to take the time to look it over closely, extra close if it has been sitting for a few months (even if it has been in a hangar). And how about your parachute – has it been stored properly? Is it still within its packing dates or does it need to be repacked before you start flying again?
And how about you? Are you healthy? Have you been eating well and staying hydrated? Are you in shape? All things to consider before you start beating up your body and plane in the aerobatic box.
This blog is simply to mention G-tolerance. Remember that you build a tolerance up and then if not maintained it will diminish. Thus, if you’re just getting back into flying aerobatics, your body may need a week or two of flying (maybe even more) to get the systems primed again. So take it easy initially, begin to add the G’s incrementally and remember that you don’t need to go for aerobatic endurance flights – 10-15 minutes of practice the first handful of flights is plenty! To be honest, I rarely practice more than 15-20 minutes at a time even when I’m at the peak of my training season. And as for those negative G’s that so many of us know and love (or hate), it seems to require less training to regain a “tolerance” level. I would argue that the negative G training should be light and minimal on each flight as it is less about priming your system and more about being able to maintain a relaxed state while under negative G in order to reduce your chances of bodily harm (remember if you strain you actually increase the pressure in your head during negative G maneuvers). Many people have argued that large quantities of negative G are unhealthy (and anyone who has pushed a lot on a flight and had the negative G hangover for the rest of the day would probably agree) thus remember, one or two pushes a flight is more than enough in practice. Just remember to stay relaxed, don’t tense up and enjoy the ride.
A healthy diet, exercise and regular flights to keep your G tolerance up will not only help you feel better but also increase your levels of safety and success for each and every competition flight. We are all vigilant about caring for our aircraft and parachutes but we must remember that our bodies also play an incredibly significant role and should be maintained just the same.
Have fun safe flights and I’ll look forward to seeing everyone around the competition circuit!