Thursday, May 26, 2016

Museum Stories - The Laser 200

In 1992, 1994, and 1996, my family made the long road trip from our home in Southern California up to Reno for the annual Reno Air Races. I don’t remember which one Leo Loudenslager performed at, maybe it was all of them, but I remember that very distinct name, and seeing him fling his little custom aerobatic aircraft through an amazing set of maneuvers.

What I didn’t know at the time, was what a pioneer Leo had been. The only person to win 7 World Aerobatic titles, his custom Laser 200 was cutting edge for its time, and practically the grandfather of the Edge 360s and similar aircraft that are flown by many of today’s top aerobatics performers, and of course in the Red Bull Air Races.

Leo Loudenslager's Laser 200 as it's displayed at
NASM's Udvar-Hazy center

I love that the NASM hung the aircraft vertically. The Laser was built for unusual attitudes, and standing a few feet away, it’s easy to imagine that your perch is an impossible one in the clouds, as you watch Leo dance his aircraft across the sky.

The Laser 200 in flight.

And for a bonus, here's Leo's routine from Reno 1993.

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