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The Cobra Roll

The Cobra Roll is rarely seen at local flying fields because it was added to the AMA handbook only in recent years, and because the maneuver is not required in any particular class of competition. Therefore, you will hardly ever see a competition pilot practicing the Cobra Roll for you to study. The Cuban Eight, on the other hand, is popular, and is a required maneuver in both the Advanced and Expert clases of competition, and is also an optional maneuver in Masters Class. Each of these maneuvers involves doing half rolls in the 45 degree angle of flight with relation to the ground. With the Cuban Eight, the half rolls come after performing 3/4 loops, and while descending inverted toward the ground. With the Cobra Roll, you do one half roll while climbing like you do in a Split S and in a Reverse Cuban Eight, and then you do a second half roll while descending inverted, as you do in the Cuban Eight. Mastery of the Cobra Roll should make it easy for you to step up to the Cuban Eight and finish this little course in aerobatics for sport fliers. Let's begin with the Cobra Roll. Perhaps not evident in the sketch, [Ed. Note: Sketch is missing] this maneuver stretches out from side to side quite a bit, so pull up well before you reach yourself. Establish a good 45 degree climb. Too many pilots only hit 30 degrees when the maneuver calls for 45. Have an observer help you check that you are getting a true 45 degrees. Having pulled up to one side of yourself, with the plane in a 45 degree climb, half roll to inverted as you would in a Split S Turn. Level the wings. Continue climbing at 45 degrees, inverted. It might take slight forward stick pressure on elevator to get a true continuation of a 45 degree climb. Try to climb as much after your half roll as before it. Now, just as you do in your Split S, apply "up" elevator, by pulling back on the stick. However, make the application more abrupt, and more forceful than in a Split S. In the "S", you are going down as in a round inside loop. In the Cobra Roll, you are turning a 90 degree corner. To get a true 90 degree turn requires more elevator application than a looping maneuver, and to get more of a corner effect than a gentle loop, you have to be more abrupt in your application. Hesitate a moment after turning the corner, in order to provide a downward inverted flight path equivalent to the one you established just before making the corner, while you were still ascending. You might want to substantially reduce throttle during this hesitation to slow the descent. Now apply full aileron to half roll the plane to upright. Apply full throttle, continue down to your entry altitude, and smoothly exit as you would coming out of an inside loop. As you would with an exit from a loop, try releasing up elevator just a tad before achieving the level path so you don't get a slight upward bounce before the plane settles in to its level flight corridor. The Cobra Roll has never been given an upwind or downwind designation, because it appears on the optional AMA list for Masters class fliers. (Don't let its appearance on that list worry you. Other beginner-type maneuvers are also on that list.) Therefore you can practice and fly this maneuver any direction you want, though you should find that trying it out upwind will make it easier to center, and generally slow the maneuver down for you.