Eric Dufour's Competition Clinic
Eric Dufour offer pilots the chance to improve skills and learn
competition tools |
Master PPG Video
Is there no end to what can be learned in this sport? After nearly
ten years I continue to enjoy learning new things. Both Michel Carnet,
7-times English national champion, and Eric Dufour, three-time U.S.
champion are putting on this clinic for a group of experienced pilots
wanting to improve.
My involvement was originally only to get footage for Master PPG but
I've already got so much that it may turn out to be more. And
that was day one! It may be an extra on disc three because the script
actually only spends about 4 minutes on competition.
The coolest footage came from a frame-mounted camera using a new
wide-angle lens. Eric flew a bunch of maneuvers and you can clearly see
exactly what he's doing with his hands and what effect it's having on
the flight path. Plus, I was recording the action from below. We'll be
doing more of that today although it's almost not necessary at this
point. Eric did his usual expert job including nailing a stop spot
landing in difficult conditions. The combination of seeing what he's
seeing, his hand motions, and seeing it from the ground will be
invaluable as a training tool for those wanting to advance their own
The problem with having three cameras is that I've got copious
amounts of material to go through. Oh well. Such is the lot I've cast
and I'm happy to have the opportunity.
Days of Flying and Learning
Perfect weather early let the pilots play each morning, practicing
spot landings, cloverleafs and other precision tasks. The wind picked up
and Michel gave a clinic on kiting techniques including the Cobra
inflation which I and others had been doing differently. I like his
method best. I captured it all on video, too, and will be adding it to
With Eric's instruction and encouragement I did a first: the front
flip. Of course it's completely useless but sure was fun! I also
barely managed a front flip which is more difficult.
We went out to the St. Johns River which has miles of flat space
punctuated only by shallow water and distant trees.
I didn't do much flying because there was better material to be
gleaned from taping on the ground. I'll be animating the initial
competition tasks because it's so clear but then will show them being
flown. Michel flew my "camera ship" on several cloverleaf flights while
I taped him from below. He uses the speedbar, too, which will be nice to
show. I'll be able to cut back and forth.
There were quite a few little bit that we learned and I captured.
Many were small tips on equipment like the simple bungee foot hook for
your speedbar. I keeps the bar out of the prop while insuring its
exactly where you need it while also helping get in the seat.
During the mid-day sessions, Michel and Eric talked about every
aspect of competition including the significance, and many specifics of
in-flight decision making. There's lots more than meets the eye.
There are some new tasks but one stands out as a very fun way to
credit those pilots who best manage their energy on landing. It's a spot
landing, of sorts, where the idea is doing a power-off landing from 300'
and swooping down to knock over as many cones as possible in a 10 meter
line. Four cones are lined up up in that space. Eric was the dude. Two
times in a row he nailed all four cones. That's not easy, especially
since it had gotten quite bumpy. I only got two and three. Since I was
doing video I only flew when there was an extra motor available and it
wouldn't take away from the clinic participants.
This task is easy to set up so I'm sure I'll be practicing more at
home once civilized temperatures return to Chicago.
Flying cross country is fun but doing it with precision and awareness
of fuel burn adds a whole new dimension. A header tank lets you
know exactly how much fuel you've got down to the last drop as it oozes
through an IV-like tube mounted above the carb. We didn't have one here
but I'm going to get one for the Miniplane and show how it works.
About half the pilots flew a navigation task that Michel had worked
out. It wasn't that long but let them see what it was like to relate the
map view to their view.
It's always a blast to spend time with passionate people. And the
Florida Paraflyers are one welcoming, friendly lot.
It was the first time doing any competition task for a lot of pilots,
including Leslie Britt who expressed interest on being on a U.S. Team in
2010. That would be cool.
Paul Czarnecki may do a USPPA competition at his event on Pine
We had an absolute blast and I thank Eric for putting this all
together and letting me film it.