PACE SPIRIT—Richard Goode’s Aerobatic Challenger
IF a certain Englishman achieves his ambition, the emphasis of success in international aerobatics is soon to change. Richard Goode, a 36-year-old. London-based management consultant, and an aerobatic pilot of just seven years standing. is totally dedicated not just to becoming World Champion, but doing so in a British aircraft. It was in 1978 that Goode entered his first contest, in a Pitts S-ID in which he had acquired a half share the year before. He finished last, but went on to more competitions and in 1979 was second in the British Championship, a progression all the more creditable by the fact that his experience and skill had all been acquired the hard way, by self-teaching.
After the 1981 European Championship. in which he captained the British team, Goode began to ponder on the case of biplanes versus monoplanes. In the contests, monoplanes seemed to score fractionally better than biplanes in the same manoeuvres and he wondered whether this was because judges found it more difficult to follow the movements of two short wings than one long one. Biplanes inevitably have thorter wing spans than monoplanes, and perhaps this was a factor affecting the precise judgement of those on the ground.
These thoughts led to the conception of a compktely new aircraft, for Goode decided to build his own acrobatic monoplane. He had a friend who was an engineer at Anions Robin in Dijon, and when this gentleman had to remove his own partly constructed Stephens Akro from the factory lest it be involved in whatever confiscation might follow a closure threat. Goode stepped in to negotiate for its purchase.
fie acquired the basic frame of the fuselage, and a complete computer-designed wing which had been developed by Aerospatiale for the CAP 21 acrobatic aircraft. Goode spent all his free tone working on
design, development and assembly of the aircraft, enlisting professional engineering help where necessary. His wing, unlike those of other aircraft, was completely symmetrical, just the the rotor blade of a helicopter, so that the aircraft attitude when inverted would be the same as when erect. Central fuselage mounting also helped, and Goode found when behest flew the aircraft in May of this year that he could trim for erect flight, straight and level, roll through 180. and still fly hands off.
One of Goode’s modifications was to extend the ailerons from roots to tips, adding countermoving trim tabs at the tips to lessen stick pressure. He also enlarged the elevators, adding similar counter-rnoving tabs, and enlarged the rudder. The result is an amazing agility, demonstrated by a full 360. roll completed in hardly more than a single second. It can also carry out a 360. Hat turn without any yaw or bank, and fly absolutely level when inverted, with none of the nose-up attitude of asymmetrically winged aircraft — an important point when aiming for clean, manifestly precise manoeuvres in front of judges. The airframe is stressed to withstand 16g, whilst the operational limits are +10g and –8g, pretty strong forces by any standards. The engine is a Rat-four Avon Lycoming 10-360 providing, in modified form, 270 h.p. It is not dry-sumped, but the oil feed has two pick-ups, one for erect flight and the other for inverted. Similarly, the fuel system has two supplies, the main tank feeding the injection system in erect flight and a smaller auxilliary tank, housed within the main tank and fed from it, feeding when inverted. A three-blade, constant speed propeller is fitted, and this is a great factor in minimising noise. Pitch varies to keep optimum r.p.m. of only 2,800. Goode also has a Pitts, which he has extensively modified and named “The Ultimate
Pitts”, which does not have this feature and is consequently noisier. Practice areas are becoming more difficult to find due to noise sensitivity, and the constant speed prop is an advantage in this respect.
The cockpit is understandably stark, functional, and fitted with only the basic necessities, which do not include navigation instruments, all in the cause of weight saving. Also in the cockpit is a perspex mount for a standard acrobatic “route card”, a kind of three-dimensional diagram made up of internationally accepted symbols depicting a display or competition sequence. The system was actually devised in the ‘fifties by Count AreFi. a colonel in the Spanish Air Force who later compiled a diction, of these symbols, the abbreviated version of which contains no less than 25,000 manceuvres. many even impossible for the aircraft of the time.
This year Richard Goode has the enthusiastic backing of Pace Petroleum Limited, after which the new aircraft has been named the Pace Spirit. His avowed ambition is to fly his Pace Spirit to victory in the World Championship. The costs are enormous, robe supplements his Pace backing by giving acrobatic displays at air shows and other gatherings. This brings a little income, but in terms of practice value for competitions the displays arc almost worthless. Indeed, they can be counter productive, for the two are poles apart and skill at one might even be increased only at the expense of skill at the other. Inn display, the object is to thrill the crowd by executing spectacular manoeuvres. and usually the closer you are to the ground the betterthey enjoy it. Consequently there is no precis.. Acrobatic competitions, on the other hand, take place within a cube of airspace, each side measuring 1,000 metres and its upper surface 1.000 metres above ground level. Of that box, the
lower 100 metres must not be entered on pain of penalty, whilst descent below 50 metres usually results in disqualification. Angular movements must be at exactly the right angles, loops perfectly circular and rolls absolutely precise in execution, all the time remaining well within that box — and the ground judge., are very astute indeed at spotting errors.
So, because you see a slick piece of formation acrobatic flying on the occasion of a public gathering, it does not necessarily follow that the pilots indulge also in competition flying, although they may well do so of course.
Another adversary of the acrobatic pilot is the possible effect of increased and decreased gravity, or positive and negative “g”. Disorientation by a constantly moving horizon simply does not occur after a while, but rapidly changing g-forccs can produce a black-out, and Goode himself admitted that as a beginner he did occasionally fade into oblivion, to sail gracefully out of the competition box into exclusion, always recovering in time, of course.
We could not sample the agility of the Pace Spirit, since it is a single-seater, but Goode demonstrated the aircraft in a most exhilarating manner, making it clear that he has devised a remarkable machine — though he says that he hasn’t finished it yet.
Our day at White Waltham, getting to know Richard Goode and witn.sing the performance of his new Pace Spirit, left us applauding this dedicated aviator who shuns spamcans and business aircraft, Ms determination to bring British engineering to the forefront of his sport, and the equally patriotic enthusiasm of his sponsors, Pace Petroleum Limited. — G.P.