A Blast from the Past - Part 2

The second half of our pilots' first memories of flying

Yoshihide Muroya in 1995

Part Two of our trip down memory lane commences with pilot Yoshihide "Yoshi" Muroya, who recalls being simply overcome with awe during his first real experience of fast and furious aerial manoeuvring.

"The first time I got my taste of aerobatics was at the Breitling 1995 World Cup in Japan – I was 22 years old at the time," says Muroya. "There I met top skilled pilots like Patrick Paris, who later became my coach for the World Aerobatic Championships.

"I was so shaken by the aerobatic flying techniques of the pilots that, from that moment onwards, I set my sights on making a career in aerobatics. I worked hard to raise funds and after two years, in 1997, I went to America by myself and started to train in aerobatic flight under Randy Gagne."

Similarly, Matthias Dolderer was also captivated by the thrill and excitement he experienced the first time he was subjected to the art of flight.

"My first aerobatic experience was in a Bölkow Monsun, if I remember correctly. I was maybe 12 years old, and was immediately addicted! My first own aerobatic flying was in a glider during the time when I got my gliding licence; I looped it quite often! Then, during my PPL-training, I had already started to do aerobatics, and flew my cross countries by climbing, spinning, climbing, spinning...

"My aerobatic rating was in my PPL two months after my 18th birthday. From then on, I loved to fly to the edge of the envelope with every aeroplane, especially in the low speed range. I just tried to fly as many aerobatic planes as possible."

So how did it all begin for 2008 Red Bull Air Race World Champion Hannes Arch?

"Well, I did my private pilot license in Switzerland, where I worked as a paragliding test pilot for a Swiss manufacturer called Paratech. Part of that job was making the paraglider stall and tumble in the air to see if it starts to fly again by itself.

"After I got my private pilot license I realised that flying in aeroplanes was quite boring compared to the flying I was used to with my paragliders. I felt like I was wasting money by just cruising along in a Cessna from A to B. My flight teacher realised this and tried to motivate me to do a course in aerobatic flying, which I did just a couple of hours after I got my private pilot license. After just three and a half hours of training in a Yak 52, I did my aerobatics exam and passed! I had not even clocked 50 hours but I already had my aerobatic license in my pocket.

"The amount of excitement I got out of aerobatic flying was now worth spending my hard earned money on. So I went to the bank and bought a Robin 2000 – and later an Extra 230.

"After that, together with a couple of friends, I decided to form an aerobatic club. We started training immediately. I am quite happy that I always had good teachers to train me, such as former multiple world champion Catherine Manoury, or Vitas Lepenas or Patrick Paris..."

It would seem some pilots, like Kirby Chambliss and Peter Besenyei, simply have their parents to thank when it comes to their undisputable love for flying,

"My dad was a jump master and I remember riding up in the jump plane with him as a boy," recalls Chambliss. "I don't remember a time when I didn't want to be a pilot; unlike the other kids, I never changed my mind. I took my first aerobatic lesson and when we turned upside down, it changed my life. From then on it became my sole focus."

"I was six years old when my parents moved to Budapest, next to an airfield in Budaörs," says Besenyei. "That was the very first time that I saw aeroplanes... and these planes were flying aerobatic manoeuvres. I was completely fascinated by them, and since that moment I wanted to be an aerobatic pilot. When I was 15 I started to fly gilders and at the age of 16 I made my first solo flight. At 23 I started to fly with engine-powered aeroplanes; my first plane was a Zlin 526. In 1981 I started aerobatic flying."

We draw our origins story to a close with Nigel Lamb, who reminisces about being a young pilot fresh out of school, and the people who helped him get to where he is today.

"A few months into the Ground School phase of our pilot training course in the Rhodesian Air Force, we were taken for an Air Experience flight in the aircraft we would fly on basic training. Powered by a 550 HP Alvis Leonides engine, the Piston Provost was something of a beast for any youngster just out of school.

"Strapped into a closed, somewhat claustrophobic, cockpit under a hot, humid African sky, I was terrified I'd be airsick, but there was nothing to fear. My first aerobatic experience hooked me for life and I'll never forget my instructor, Flight Lt Dave Thorne, flying us back to base well below treetop height. Thanks Dave, for igniting my passion for low flying!"