What is Aerobatics?

    Aerobatics can be an extreme sport when you take it to the extreme, then it becomes a sick sport that only a few can participate in.

    Aerobatics is all about taking your airplane and youreself to the physical limits while applying aerobatics maneuvers at low altitude in front of an audience. Most of the competitions are in front of a team of judges which are giving a grade to every pilot performing in front of them. Every pilot starts with a perfect grade and gets degraded for every small mistake or imperfection.

    Today’s aerobatics airplanes can pull up to +10G and push up to -10G as well. Just for comparison, a F-16 or an Eurofighter can pull only up to a positive 9G’s and push around 4-3 of negative G’s, and don’t forget that the fighter pilots wear G suits to help the human body to resist the G forces while the pilots of the competitive Professional aerobatics airplanes do not. Just to give you a little perspective, an untrained average person will probably pass out at about 4-5 of positive G’s, when you are sitting in front of your computer you have on you +1G provided by mother earth. Now imagine what 10G’s feels like.

    This extreme sport has evolved to the ultimate adrenaline aerobatic competition- Red Bull Air Race. This event combines aerobatics, very low flying, high speed flying and racing to a huge adrenaline celebration.

    Each pilot is to complete a track consisting of pylons gates. The pilot needs to pass thru all the gates as fast as he can without touching the pylons with the wings and perform some basic maneuvers like loops rolls and ext. The gates are scattered in a way that requires performing very high G maneuvers at about 15ft (5m) above the surface. Pilots fly one by one against the clock. There are time adding penalties for touching the pylons with the wings, imprecise passes thru the gates and etc. the fastest time- wins. This is not a sport for the amateur weekend pilot…

    What’s extreme about it?

    Three main things turning this to one of the most extreme sport on the planet.

    The high G’s are bringing the human body to its physical limit, these G forces can be dealt with only after long training.

    The second thing is the speed at low level at high G’s – most of the aerobatic airplanes can go at about 210 knots (378 km/h), pulling 8G at an angle of 90° turn, only 15ft (5m) above the water- it is something that is hard to describe with words.

    The third thing is the flying characteristics of those airplanes. They are extremely maneuverable, light and agile. At a roll rate about 400° per second those things are quick and aggressive.

    But after all, this is not a rollercoaster ride and if you seriously want to get in to aerobatics, by the time you reach the level of performing, you’ll be so experienced that you get very little rush out of it all. The only thing you will care about is to be the fastest, to be the best. To be in full control of this extreme machine that became the natural continuation of your body- this is the ultimate and the purest adrenaline rush in this sport, that’s what we live for.

    How dangerous is it?

    The potential of dying is pretty high because of the proximity to the ground, but since most of the pilots who get to the level of performing and competing are packed with thousands of flight hours and years of experience, the sport is pretty safe. To go up there and try it for yourself without such experience would be a sure death, but in this extreme sport no one will let you do it. So the best safety feature is the complexity and the low accessibility to the average, inexperience Joe.


    How to start?

    This is probably the hardest and the most complex extreme sport to get in to. To get inolved in aerobatics first you obviously have to be a pilot of some sort. If you are not this will be your first step on the way. There are flying schools around the world, most common airplane to start with will be probably a Cessna C-172 or C-152. After you complete your flying school, pass all the exams and get your private flying license you can build your flying experience. Only then you can go to an aerobatic school and learn the aerobatics basics. This is not for everyone and you just might discover it at that point. Some people are just too sensitive to G forces and will get airsick no matter what. This is something your body can get used to but some people were just not born for it. Some will not feel a thing. What kind are you? You will discover only when you start doing aerobatics. If you did manage to overcome this barrier you could start training, a lot… Only then you will get to the competitive class, which will take a lot of dedication and time. It takes a long time and lots of flying hours before you can fly professional aerobatic airplanes like the Extra EA- 300, Sukhoi Su-31 and etc…

    This is a very demanding and expensive extreme sport, but if you are dedicated, capable and willing to live for it then everything is possible.