ALGONA, Iowa- Aaron McCartan is often seen flying his aerobatic plane based in a hangar at the Algona Airport.
In late September, McCartan won the U.S. Advanced Nationals Champion, which is the most difficult category of this type of flying. This was his third national title, in five tries. He was also named as Captain of the U.S. Advance Aerobatic Team, which will compete next summer in Europe.
“I’m a competition aerobatic pilot,” said McCartan. “It’s a little different in the air shows, it’s not the wild tumbling and rushing at the ground, it’s a little bit more disciplined, kind a like ballet versus breakdancing.”
McCartan flies Panzel aircraft, which is made in Michigan. The plane is very lightweight 1240 pounds, but with a 330 horsepower engine, maneuvers are no problem.
“This aircraft is called a Panzl,” said McCartan.“They’re made up in Michigan, it’s a steel tube roll cage around the fuselage, the wing is actually a combination of different types of wood, and then there some carbon fiber hardeners inside.”
Cloth is also used to cover the aft section of the plane, and parts of the ailerons are covered in cloth as a way to keep the plane light weight.
“It is the ultimate challenge it aviation it is the hardest most disciplined study of aviation,” said McCartan. “This is one of the most challenging things you can do with an airplane and I absolutely love it!”
McCartan normally flies his aircraft to competitions. But next summer to get his plane to Europe, he will have to dis-assemble it and ship it by boat to the competition site.
For information on the Aerobatic Championships, click here.