Why "Cuban Eight"?
When I decided to create a website where I could showcase my Aviation images, the name of this aerobatic maneuver immediately popped in my head, so I just went with it. The fact that I'm Cuban and the origins of this maneuver are somehow linked to part of the Cuban Aviation History might have something to do with this choice.
What is a Cuban Eight?
A "Cuban Eight" or "Cuban 8" is an aerobatic figure eight maneuver for fixed-wing aircraft both full-scale and radio controlled consisting of three-quarters of a normal loop, a half roll, three quarters of another normal loop and another half roll followed by recovery from the dive to straight level flight. Variations include the "Half Cuban Eight" and "Reverse Half Cuban Eight".
The "Cuban Eight" was invented as an ad lib at the 1936 All American Meeting in Miami, Florida. Len Povey was a famous American barnstormer who was almost as well-known for his quick wit and promotional abilities as he was for his considerable aerobatic skills.
In the early '30s the Cuban military brass were looking for someone to advise and train the new Cuban Air Force, and Len quickly talked himself into the job. After he had been down for a while, it was decided that he should take one of the fledgling Air Force's new Curtiss Hawk biplanes to the show in Miami to compete for the Freddie Lund Trophy as a combination of publicity and recruiting stunt.
While performing for the trophy, he decided to do a triple Avalanche: three snaps at the top of a loop. At the top of the loop, Len saw that he was carrying way too much entry speed for the snap, so he rode over the top; coming down the back side, he did a half-roll and pulled into another loop, again half-rolling on the back side before pulling out.
The new maneuver was a minor sensation, and when Povey was asked by the assembled press just exactly what he had done, he offhandedly remarked that it was merely a "Cuban Eight".