Usually when I write on aerobatic and/or airshow safety, the area I cover concerns warbirds. I’d like to depart from that format for this article because I believe the issue I want to discuss with you here is one of the most important and dangerous issues facing pilots flying today’s ultra high performance aircraft. The issue in discussion here today concerns that area of a display routine we call “ The Downline.”
Behind the Russian surname Yakovlev lays a history of planes and aviation. Alexander Sergeyevich Yakovlev, member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was an aeronautical engineer who designed the Yakovlev military aircraft. Being the founder of the Yakovlev Design Bureau, he developed large numbers of fighter aircrafts used during World War II.
Just like we can't talk about the Pitts Special without talking about Curtis Pitts, we can't talk about the Laser 200 without mentioning Leo Loudenslager. These planes signify a turning point in the history of aerobatics; they are the fruit of work, a shared passion, and a philosophy demonstrated by the sacrifice of these people's lives.
Leo Loudenslager is considered responsible for ending the reign that the biplane created by Curtis Pitts, the Pitts Special, had established in aerobatic competition circuits throughout the world. Although the Pitts continued to defeat the Czech Zlins at the beginning of the 1970s in Europe, in the U.S. the domination of Leo's advanced single-seater over the biplanes had already been predicted.