“What is that?” one of my students asked as we stood in front of a tailwheel-equipped red, white and blue two-place Cessna at this summer’s Arlington Fly-in in Washington state. It wasn’t a Cessna 120. It wasn’t a 140. Did Cessna make other two-place tailwheel designs? “It looks like a Cessna 150 — did they have tailwheels?” another student asked.
Cellphones were deployed and Google search applied. Apparently Cessna did, as one of the hundreds of modifications the Cessna 150 series has. We hunkered down in the grass for a closer inspection. On the belly is a metal patch where the main landing gear had been attached, leading us to surmise that the airplane had been nosewheel-equipped at one point in time. The checkerboard pattern on the tail told us it was an Aerobat.
“It’s pretty uncommon,” said Frederickson. “I do have a lot of people ask about it. The tailwheel seems to get the conversation started, then closer inspection reveals it’s an Aerobat, which is immediately followed by, “so do you take it upside down?’
“I fly strictly for fun,” he continued, explaining that when he first learned to fly he had thoughts of becoming a professional pilot, but when he had the chance to become a music teacher, he opted to go down that road.
“I opened my own private music school, and that became successful enough for me to pursue flying for fun,” he said. “After I received my pilot’s license, I determined it would be more cost effective to buy a 152 as opposed to renting, based on the amount of flying I wanted to get in.
“When I hit the ads, I came across this Aerobat and thought it would be nice to get a tailwheel endorsement and, perhaps, someday get bold enough to take it inverted,” he continued. “It was very low hours and the price was right, so the deal was made and I started my tailwheel training that same day. The acro followed about a year later after I felt I had all my basic flying skills down.”
“It’s very addicting and I’ve become a much more confident pilot as a result,” he said. “I’ve built up to doing all the Aerobat is capable of and found myself wanting more, so I’m moving up to a Pitts real soon. I’m building one in my garage and hoping to get in the first flight by the end of the year.”
Frederickson noted that the Aerobat is in the sky at least once a week for aerobatics.
“I’m getting pretty good at all the maneuvers and am thinking about doing a competition sometime. I don’t think the Aerobat will be very competitive, but I’d love to try it for the experience.”
Just the facts
Introduced in 1970, the Aerobat is a derivative of the Cessna 150 designed for aerobatic flight. Gross weight is 1,670 lbs. and it has a useful load of 470 lbs.
According to Frederickson, the panel is stock and equipped for IFR, but since he doesn’t hold an instrument ticket, “it’s a moot point.” In addition, he said, the aerobatics tend to play havoc with the gyros.
There are no inverted fuel or oil systems on the Aerobat. “I usually point out the long streak of oil down the left side of the fuselage and explain that the breather line fills up during negative Gs and dumps once back to positive,” he said.