Another popular branch of gliding that is both a great adrenaline rush and an excellent way of improving your general handling skills.
Many people find it surprising that gliders are particularly well suited to aerobatics, but due to the simplicity of their construction they are immensely strong, far more so than a typical small powered aircraft. As a result even the basic trainers we use are stressed to +5.3/-3.0 g, and capable of a huge variety of manovers including loops, stall turns, rolls and inverted flight. Dedicated aerobatic gliders exist and are stressed as high as +10/-10g, making them capable of more complex figures.
Some experts at work:
The key to flying aerobatics well is precision, using only as much speed and 'g' as is necessary to complete each manoeuvre in a controlled and accurace fashion. As you have limited height (and hence energy) to complete a sequence, efficient flying is necessary to complete a sequence within the available altitude.
Even if you have no particular interest in competitions, every pilot can benefit from doing a few aerobatic flights. By pushing closer to the limits of an aircrafts flight envelope, it greatly increases confidence during normal flight, and by learning the recoveries for when aerobatic manoevres go wrong, you become more confident in recovering from any unusual situtations that could occur during normal flight.
Have a chat to an instructor if you want a demo of some basic manoeuvres:
- Standard - Competent to undertake solo test sequence of basic figures only
- Sports - A high standard of competence in basic +ve G figures
- Intermediate - A high standard of competence in advanced figures involving rolling and inverted flight
- Unlimited - A high standard of competence in advanced figures involving complex combinations of rolling and inverted flight
The aerobatics badge claim form can be found here
In aerobatic competitions, the competitors each have to fly a set of sequences, some of which are known and can be practiced in advance, with the remainder being unknown and are not available till the judged flight.
Each sequence is defined by a set of figures, each of which is scored from 10 points by a group of judges, with each fault resulting in a cumulative reduction in the score.
Several competitions are help throughout the year, for all levels from beginner to unlimited.