August 12, 2010
Enjoying Aerobatics with Chuck Aaron and the Red Bull Helicopter
He may not be "The Most Interesting Man in the World", but he's up there. Handlebar mustache wearing, daredevil pilot Chuck Aaron is the only pilot licensed by the FAA to perform aerobatics in a helicopter.
Until four-years ago helicopters had traditionally played minor roles in airshow, unable to perform the awe-inspiring aerobatic feats of their fixed wing counterparts. That changed when aviation enthusiast and Red Bull founder, Dietrich Mateschitz, convinced Chuck Aaron to find a way to perform aerobatics in a helicopter. After a few years of tinkering to extremely modify a BO-105 Bölkow Helicopter a one-of-a-kind aircraft emerged. The Red Bull Helicopter is able to perform the Roll, Split-S, Immelman, Half Cuban Eight, Back Flips and Chuck's very own Chuckcilvak. The helicopter can support great forces including 3.1 Gs and negative 1.0 Gs.
Aaron is making his second appearance at the Chicago Air & Water Show this weekend. Last year he mesmerized the crowd with his aerobatics. Although, everyone along the lakeshore will be fixing their attention on him during his performance he won't even notice they are there. Aaron explains "I go into severe focus mode, paying attention to altitude, air speed, where the sky and ground are. I don't pay attention to the crowd-that's a deal breaker".
I had the opportunity to take flight with him prior to the show (video below). It was wild that on my first flight in a helicopter, I got inverted. Aaron put the Bull Cow through a series of Rolls, Loops and a Split-S, putting 2.4 Gs on the craft in the process.
Oddly enough the maneuvers did not feel much different then they do in a fixed wing aircraft. The fact that it wasn't a plane but a helicopter makes this man one of the most interesting in the world. Stay inverted my friends.