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Subject: A New Idea about the Wobblies Part 1
Message:
My Wobblies

To explain my enthusiasm for the trigger point hypothesis as the explanation for my wobblies I need to describe my experience with the wobblies in considerable detail.

Mine are somewhat atypical, in that each episode lasts only 1/2 second. At their most severe I get an overpowering sense that I am falling backwards that lasts just long enough for me to initiate a reaction to steady myself and it ends before I actually move, and I do not fall back either. At the mildest the uncertainty in my head orientation increases from the usual 5 degrees to 20 degrees - a strange sensation that seems to come from the center of my head. These momentary bits of disorientation occur only after I move my head in a direction it hasn’t moved for several minutes. I do not get symptoms while flying, probably because I move my head too frequently to allow the stationary time that seems to be necessary.

I first experienced these wobblies while practicing daily for my first Unlimited contest in a Pitts Special. It took two weeks of no flying for the severity of the symptoms to drop to the lowest detectable level, and the frequency from every few minutes to once an hour. I resumed practicing and continued to experience the symptoms at a low level of severity and frequency. Over the next 10 years I learned to pace my flying to keep them from getting up to the most severe level. Every spring I started out at +6 and -3 and gradually increased to -5 over about 20 flights. Despite this conditioning program I still experienced the mild form as soon as I started practicing negative g figures frequently. I suspect that outside snaps were more important than pushes because I did not experience the wobblies while flying Advanced in the same plane. I learned to tolerate the mild form of my wobblies and adjusted my flying schedule whenever I started to get any sense of falling backwards.

I tried the pre-flight neck stretches suggested by Fred DeLacerda, as well as his ideas of immobilizing my head with my chin on my chest during g-loading and lying down after flying. This made no difference that I could detect. I contemplated trying strength training during the winter, but I couldn’t bring myself to do something so boring and unpleasant.

Two years ago I switched to a plane with much greater roll rate and a reclined seating position. I started the usual way at +6 -3g. On the third flight I experimented with using the full roll acceleration of the plane and with inside snaps, and I was hit with moderately severe wobblies. I resumed flying after the symptoms subsided two weeks later and I got exactly the same results - no wobblies until I used the maximal roll acceleration. Out of curiosity I did this again with the same results.
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