Energy management is one of the fundamental skills that, for me, took a lot of time to figure out. I’d like to spend a part of this blog talking about one of my greatest idols in aviation, world-class aerobatics pilot, test pilot, and true master of energy management, Bob Hoover.
I remember watching Bob do his airshow routine at Oshkosh Airventure in the Aero Commander. Amazingly, he was able to fly a complete aerobatic routine while at the same time shutting off the first engine then the second, and after all of that land the airplane and taxi to his parking spot without the use of his engines. Lately when I fly, I actively try to challenge myself and be more like Bob. My goal is always to not have to add power in my landing pattern. What I mean by this is that from my cruise power setting to “throttle completely closed” touchdown setting. So my process is as follows: when I am about six miles away from my destination, I pull enough power to where the airplane descends at 500 ft/min without losing airspeed. When I hit pattern altitude, I level off and let the airplane slow down. At this point I am turning my left downwind leg and I adjust my power until I am flying level at flap speed, and when I am abeam the numbers I put the flaps down and pull enough power for a steady descent to my landing spot. With a goal of not adding any power and steadily removing power I avoid shock cooling in he winter and stressing out the engine on the airplane. I also think it improves my competency with basic flying skills, which is very important in keeping speed up while turning final. Many people have lost their lives because they failed to keep their speed up in the pattern, and I always remind myself of that while doing slow flight. I remind myself of the saying “there are old pilots and there are bold pilots, but there are no old bold pilots”, but then I see that Bob Hoover is old and bold and so that is why I try to be like Bob because he must be doing something right. If you have also been inspired by this great man, share your Hoover stories in the comments below.