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 manoeuvres 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.
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 accurate 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 aircraft's flight envelope, it greatly increases confidence during normal flight, and by learning the recoveries for when aerobatic manoeuvres go wrong, you become more confident in recovering from any unusual situations that could occur during normal flight.
Learning Aerobatics at CGC
Have a chat to an instructor if you want a demo of some basic manoeuvres, such as these.
Throughout the winter, CGC offers aerobatic training slots every Saturday. These can be booked in the usual way on the booking system, putting your name down with 'AEROBATIC INSTRUCTOR'. Martin Whitehead and Graham Spelman usually take it in turns to instruct - if Graham is going out he is usually happy to give lifts.
Just like training to be solo there is a aerobatics syllabus to get each badge, with each manoeuvre ticked off in turn. Once you have all the moves ticked off, you fly a demonstration flight solo where the instructor watches you from the ground. If satisfactory, they will sign you off for your badge. For the first badge, this should take around 5 flights.
You don't have to be solo to do aerobatic training, but you do have to be experienced enough to have good control over the glider in normal flight.
During the summer there is no structured aerobatics training program (and soaring is a better way to spend the day), but if you want to give it a go, have a chat with instructors and see if they'd be happy to show you what it's like.
- Competent to undertake solo test sequence of basic figures only
- A high standard of competence in basic +ve G figures
- A high standard of competence in advanced figures involving rolling and inverted flight
- 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 practised 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 run throughout the year, for all levels from beginner to unlimited.