Patrick Wirtz–Advice for Aerobatic Pilots

Welcome to the blog, Patrick! Thanks for being with us. Can you tell us what you do for a living?
I’m a business owner. Manufacturing – custom precision machining.

How old are you, and where do you live?
49, and on Henry’s street.

True enough and hi, neighbor! For those who don’t know where our street is, where could we find you on the internet?

Your website says “If Your Project Is Possible, We Will Finish It Now. If Your Project Is Impossible, We Will Finish It Shortly.” Is there a big challenge a client has given you in keeping that pledge you could tell us about?
You would really need to come by the shop so that I could show you several projects we’ve worked on that were very difficult over the years. If a picture is worth a thousand, examples have to be worth ten thousand. Lol

The most interesting place you’ve visited?
It depends on the mood I’m in at the time I’m considering it, but here in the States, Seattle, Sawyer, KS, and all of Wisconsin are very interesting in their own special ways. I’ve also taken a Holy Land tour that included Cairo, Egypt, which was fascinating.

What would people enjoy about Sawyer, Kansas?
Sawyer is a farming area in the Midwest. Vast crops, one mile squares, the quilt of the land. Amber waves of grain.
Ann and I were on a four-wheeler exploring when we came upon these horses in the road:Your favorite meal would be?
This completely depends on my mood: Steak, Italian, Greek, Asian, American. As you can tell when you look at me, I like it all.

Pet peeve?
People who are inconsiderate, which covers a lot of subjects.

Favorite book, or movie, or television show?
Books: The Bible (every year), The Goal. Shows: YouTube, Heartland, NFL football on a cold Sunday afternoon by the fire.

If people want to pray for you, they could pray for….?

Are you married?
Yes, to Ann Greenleaf Wirtz. Any kids? – one, a professor at Seattle University. Grandkids? – two.

What does the professor at Seattle teach?
Arie Todd Greenleaf, Ann’s son, is a Professor of Counseling at Seattle University. He has a PhD in Counseling Education and Supervision. Received his undergrad from Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison, his Master’s at Clemson, and his PhD at Univ. of Iowa. He taught at Univ. of Arkansas before going to Seattle.

One thing many people don’t know you can do?
I like to fix mechanical things. I can usually just look at something and see a solution if it has a mechanical nature. Since I own a manufacturing business, I can pretty much make anything as well with the different machining equipment we use; just for personal use, years ago I made a fireplace insert, and then a loader for the tractor. Projects like that give me great satisfaction. I enjoy singing and was the former vice-president of The Hendersonville Chorale as well as a former minister of music for about ten years. I’ve substituted leading the choir at our current church, FBC-Hendersonville. I love to see people succeed, especially our young people today; they have so much going against them, it seems.

If you had any spare time, what would you do with it?
Ride an adventure motorcycle, such as a KTM 1090R/1290R, cross-country on the Trans-America Trail. Takes about a month.

Tell us some interesting things about yourself that aren’t already covered.
I have a pilot’s license, and have actually totaled an airplane on a windy day. Loved doing aerobatics! I also used to work at Rose’s department store during high school and Radio Shack after that before college.

Can you tell us about the “airplane totaling” story?
For years, I was one of two or three pilots that volunteered their airplane and time to give charity flights for the Hendersonville Air Museum twice a year. The last time I did this was at the Memorial Day weekend, Saturday, August 30, 2003.

I had given several rides that morning, the weather was clear, but was gusty and variable. On my fourth flight, I had a mother and her young girl aboard. I departed to the south from the Hendersonville Airport and turned east for a large pattern, which was the norm for these charity flights. Right after I turned east the winds changed direction. I suddenly had a tail wind instead of headwind. The aircraft began to rapidly drop, I quickly check my power, checked magnetos, checked carb heat. All were fine. Then I heard the treetops hitting my landing gear skirts. I then put in full flaps to slow my descent rate. All of a sudden one of the tree tops hooked my horizontal stabilizer at the rear of the plane which made me point straight to the ground. I didn’t even have time to pull the throttle till the prop was buried in the ground. The plane was resting with the tail straight up in the air.

Being in the woods and lower than the road all I could see was forest around us. I didn’t realize we were not far from the Blue Ridge CC campus. The mother had a dislocated shoulder and a cut on her forehead. The little girl didn’t have a bruise or cut at all. I had to have multiple stitches in various places. I could go on, but you get the picture, I’m sure. I had to take a very stressful flight review with an FAA official and earned my ability to keep my license. Have it in my pocket always.

Can I ask you to offer some counsel to “aerobatic pilots?”
I always enjoyed doing aerobatics. The plane wasn’t certified for high-G aerobatics, so I had to do the easy, docile maneuvers, LOL.
For instance, when doing a barrel-roll – full throttle, straight and level, pull up on the yoke to get the plane pointed upward at about a 45-degree angle, full left/right ailerons coordinated with rudder. DO NOT let go until you come back around. You don’t want to do a split-S!

For a slight change, instead of just a coordinated rudder with full ailerons, you could use full rudder for a nice snap-roll. The tail of the plane snaps around instead of a gentle roll.

Another nice maneuver is the hammerhead. It’s also the quickest way to do a 180-degree turn.
Again, straight and level, then pull the yoke back hard till the plane is pointed straight up. As it is gaining altitude, close the throttle all the way to idle so the plane decelerates to a stop, essentially “hanging” in the air while pointed straight up. Immediately the plane starts back down backwards as your stomach is left hanging as well. On the way back down (backwards) use full left or right rudder to kick the rear of the plane around…you’re then pointed straight down. Immediately pull back the yoke to level out, and you’re back straight and level in the opposite direction you were going previously. FUN!

Airport fly-bys are fun too. Just like coming in for a landing except it’s full throttle all the way, even during the descent. About 180mph, two to three feet above the runway and then a high-g pull-up at the end. That’ll give an adrenaline rush!

I always say, “Anyone can take off in an airplane, it’s the landing that’s a bit more complicated.” Also, “Never take off in a small plane directly after a large airliner. You WILL lose control of your plane.”

Patrick, thanks much for being with us, and loved the stories. Take care and God bless.