The above is a frontside 360* air performed by a surfer. Pretty sweet move, until recently mostly seen only in skateboarding and snowboarding. So what’s the relation to VTPR (Voltige Très Près du Relief) aerobatics?
Well, the question is, where do we go from here in our VTPR flying?
Last summer was tremendously exciting for the US VTPR aerobatics movement. In the span of just a few months, we saw “Swiss Peter” Richner’s revolutionary ultralightweight “Swiss Fish” building techniques combined with my Le Fish VTPR glider and Benoit Paysant Le Roux’s Madslide elevator. The resulting airframe enabled some truly new things be done in VTPR aerobatics: for the first time, we were able to start doing completely controlled Madflight at extremely low VTPR altitudes in very light lift conditions. Pierre Rondel called it alternatively “underground VTPR” (because of how low we are flying) and “ultimate VTPR”. For his part, BPLR was very pleased to see new development in this area. Super fun!!
Next Dawson Henderson showed us the way towards a reliable, repeatable means of getting Madflight flips on tap via his innovative pulley system. Paige Anderson of Future Slope Designs started working on a chain drive system that shows promise to do the same for his Axis-60 and Axis-72 VTPR gliders. John “Big Gas” Scahill and Dan McCleary have started expanding the palette beyond the Le Fish with their Mad-Extra and DoDo designs. Swiss Peter has started development of his own unique designs which he calls the Swissfish.
In the right hands, all of these nearly indestructible EPP planes can be flown to new limits, with Madflight seamlessly integrated into more traditional VTPR passes and traditional higher altitude slope aerobatics figures, all with good speed and energy management. Finally, a cool synthesis of three popular trends in slope aerobatics over the past 10 years or so!
Great, now what?
Two immediate goals: knife edge loops, and yaw flips aka “pinwheels” (see the surfer video for an example of the latter). Performed as part of a VTPR sequence that incorporated Madflight flips, this could lead to some of the craziest – and coolest – VTPR aerobatics flying ever seen on the slope.
The question is, can our current gliders perform these maneuvers, or will they require radical revision? Increases in side area generally result in increased drag regardless of how it’s implemented, and this can result in loss of energy and possibly make these figures impossible. Conversely, yaw flips may require a reduction in side area, or a change in where it is located – possibly imperiling not only knife edge loops, but traditional knife edge flight, too. As always the trick will be finding the right balance between design and technique to pull these figures off. Can we find one design which can do it all?
So what do you think, are these moves even possible with a VTPR glider? What figures would you like to see attempted? What do you dream of? Leave a comment and let’s see what happens.