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Patrouille de France at the ILA Berlin
The Lo-100 was first introduced in 1952 and remained the glider aerobatic plane par excellence until the late 1980s . Today the full acro class is dominated by Swift and Fox .

The aerobatics is a aircraft carried out air movement or -Figur that is not required for normal flight. This is often associated with anomalous flight attitudes and flight speeds as well as special flight maneuvers such as formation flights .

In the early days of aviation, the word “aerobatics” was used to describe all flight attempts made by humans, as a contrast to the natural flight of birds. See also the history of aviation . The law defines aerobatics (in FCL.010 of Regulation (EU) No. 1178/2011 ) as "an intentional maneuver in the form of an abrupt change in the attitude of an aircraft, an abnormal attitude or an abnormal acceleration necessary for normal flight or for the instruction for licenses or ratings other than the aerobatic rating are not necessary " .

The licensing requirements for aerobatics are part of the EU.FCL guidelines, i. H. Training and licensing for aerobatics are regulated the same across Europe. According to this, pilots of aircraft, helicopters and gliders require a corresponding aerobatic license to perform aerobatics according to § FCL.800 of the European Regulation (EU) No. 1178/2011 , for which a minimum of 5 hours of theoretical and practical aerobatics training must be completed.

Aerobatics are also carried out with suitable remote-controlled model aircraft .

Legal bases

The requirements for aerobatics in Germany are through the " Regulation (EU) No. 1178/2011 " (FCL.010 & FCL.800) and the associated AMC FCL.800, the Air Traffic Licensing Regulations ( § 4 ), Section SERA .3130 of the "Standardized European Rules of the Air (SERA)" "and the" Ordinance on the adaptation of national regulations to the Implementing Ordinance (EU) No. 923/2012 of September 26, 2012 on the establishment of common air traffic rules and operating rules for services and procedures of Air traffic control and amending Implementing Regulation (EC) No. 1035/2011 and Regulations (EC) No. 1265/2007, (EC) No. 1794/2006, (EC) No. 730/2006, (EC) No. 1033 / 2006 and (EU) No. 255/2010 "of October 29, 2015:

§ 14 Performing aerobatics

§ 21 Air traffic control clearance for aerobatics

Section 44 Administrative offenses

Acquisition of the authorization: since April 8, 2014 regulated throughout Europe by EU VO 1178/2011 FCL.800.

The earlier restrictions according to § 122 of the Ordinance on Aviation Personnel with regard to "passenger aerobatics" are no longer applicable.

Motor aerobatics

Aerobatic team from Switzerland
Four double-deckers in formation, ILA 2006

Aerobatics is practiced by sport pilots as a separate sport , with championships according to the rules of the FAI and the CIVA , with national and international ratings. Aerobatics training can also be carried out without the intention of participating in a competition as further training in flying skills and serves to improve flight safety, as it improves the pilot's ability to avoid unusual flight situations (e.g. unintentional spin ).

Aerobatic maneuvers and complete programs are shown for competitive aerobatics with a special system of symbols named after the inventor, the Spanish Count J. Aresti . Each figure is also assigned a level of difficulty (the K value), which is included in the evaluation in a competition. The Aresti catalog only contains figures that are approved for the aerobatic competition. There are numerous other figures such as B. the barrel roll or the Lomcovák , which is often shown at air shows , which are not included in the Aresti catalog (and therefore not allowed in the competition).

Among the aerobatic maneuvers include: Immelmann , looping , spin , roll , torn role , inverted flight , turn , roll circle , torquing and looping Eight , also Cuban Eight or called Cuban eight. In order to fly an aerobatic program, different figures are combined with one another. For example, a figure can consist of the following elements: vertical flight, roll, torn roll, turn, and then two torn rolls in vertical flight downwards.

The pilots Erwin Bläske (World Champion Individual and Team 1968), Klaus Schrodt (World Champion Unlimited 2002, World Champion Freestyle 2001-2005) and Matthias Dolderer were able to achieve victories at international competitions .

The only aircraft in the world on which all unlimited maneuvers can be trained with two seats are the Extra 300 and XtremeAir XA42 designs as well as the Jak-54 .

One of the first to die in aerobatics was the German designer Hermann Hofmann. He had a fatal accident while flying around Europe in 1929 when he was performing aerobatics with his Arado L 1 over the airfield.

Glider aerobatics

A Swift S-1 at a demonstration at Kemble

In glider aerobatics, similar to motor aerobatics, championships take place according to the rules of the FAI with national and international valuation. In addition, two-seater competitions are held annually in Germany in Blumberg and Meschede-Schüren , as well as club championships ( Salzmann Cup ).

When doing aerobatics with gliders, the starting height is an essential factor: The 1000 meters of altitude of the box (air space in which the maneuvers are performed) must be sufficient to fly the program of usually 10 figures. Energy management therefore plays a central role in glider aerobatics.

Therefore, the flight program is put together in such a way that the figures can be lined up as smoothly as possible. In the ideal case, the final speed of each figure is then the same as the desired initial speed of the next. Changes in inclination between the figures to correct the speed will be penalized with deductions in the competition. The pilot must also ensure that he does not waste energy through unclean flying, excessive speeds or unnecessarily high G-loads ( centrifugal forces when pulling up or in the interception curve). Too high a G-load can also lead to deductions in competition, since a harmonious movement is sought in glider aerobatics. Finally, a general harmony grade is also included in the evaluation.

Another difference to motor aerobatics is the lack of propeller wind , which makes some figures more difficult to fly. Furthermore, no figures can be flown that are based on the gyroscopic effect of the propeller ( gyroscopic figures ).

Education (Germany)

According to the law, you need at least 40 flight hours or 120 take-offs after receiving your glider license in order to obtain authorization to do glider aerobatics in Germany. The aerobatic training must be at least 5 hours or 20 starts, including the towing time. The training must include the following figures:

  1. Rollover (= looping)
  2. Turn
  3. controlled role
  4. raised roller turn
  5. Boom
  6. Inverted flight
  7. Spin

The course of the training is not stipulated by law, but there is an English-language Acceptable Means of Compliance (AMC) from the EASA and recommendations from the German Aeroclub.

Although it is not required by law, the training usually takes place as part of a course. Some organizers require 100 to 150 hours of flying experience for admission to the course. As a rule, aerobatics are carried out with F-tow or with a high winch start (at least 2000 m rope length).

Education (Switzerland)

In Switzerland, since the process of adapting to the EASA guidelines, a minimum flight experience of 40 hours or 120 take-offs after receiving the glider license has been required to acquire the aerobatic extension. The aerobatics training can be done with any glider instructor who is in possession of the aerobatics extension. The training includes theoretical lessons appropriate to the qualification and practical flight experience of at least 5 hours or 20 flights with the corresponding aircraft category.

Aerobatics training in Switzerland takes place in two stages. First the extension for simple aerobatics is acquired, which allows the pilot to perform aerobatic maneuvers with positive G-load. Only then can he acquire the extension for higher aerobatics , which also allows flying rolls, inverted flight and generally negative maneuvers.

To purchase the extension for simple aerobatics, the following figures must be flown in two flights:

  • 1 vrille (= spin) of 3 turns left and right
  • 2 renversements (= turns) left and right
  • 2 loops
  • A spiral dive with 3 circles in a maximum of 30 seconds left and right
  • every flight has to end with a destination landing

The exam is taken in front of an expert, the extension is entered in the license. The examination program is stipulated in law (RFP), but the course of the training is not prescribed, only a guideline of the FOCA exists.

The training for the acquisition of the extension for higher aerobatics includes inverted flight (straight ahead and turns), controlled roll , immelmann , return and a hazard briefing for loss of orientation in inverted flight . The content of this training is not stipulated by law, but is contained in an instruction from the FOCA. The flight instructor confirms the training in the flight log as soon as he is responsible for it. A test flight does not take place.

Achievement badge

In Germany, the sport specialist group glider / motorized flight of the German Aero Club has been awarding bronze, silver and gold badges for glider aerobatics since 2001 with the aim of creating a broader sporting base in German glider aerobatics. While the bronze and silver badge can also be flown solo with training two- seaters like the ASK 21 , the requirements for the golden badge are similar to those of a freestyle in the Unlimited class.

Corresponding badges of achievement are awarded in Austria by the Austrian Aero Club and in Switzerland by the Swiss Gliding Association.

Helicopter aerobatics

Flight demonstrations with helicopters are a more recent form of aerobatics. One of the first squadrons to professionally operate helicopter aerobatics was the British Blue Eagles in 1968 . The flight maneuvers differ significantly from those of the aircraft, which is mainly due to the greater maneuverability of the helicopters. Backward flight or hovering are part of the standard repertoire for flight demonstrations with helicopters. Such performances are often referred to as helicopter ballet.

Conventional aerobatic maneuvers, i.e. rolls, loops etc., may only be flown with a few models. The Bo 105 is often used here, as its hingeless rotor head - a sensitive link in such maneuvers - is designed to be particularly stable. When performing the flight maneuvers, the pilots must also ensure that the elastic rotor blades do not collide with the tail boom.

Hang glider and paraglider aerobatics

An equally young form of aerobatics is acrobatics with hang-gliders and paragliders . World championships in hang-gliding and paragliding acrobatics have also been held since 2006 .

Military aerobatics

Red Arrows at an air show in England
Blue Angels , the United States Navy's aerobatic team during Fleet Week 2018 in San Francisco

Military pilots regularly train maneuvers, which in civil aviation are partly attributed to aerobatics. However, less attention is paid to precision in the sense of sporty aerobatics (exact angles, circular loops, etc.), but the goal is to fly certain predetermined figures as precisely as possible, even in the limit areas of aerodynamics and the performance parameters of the aircraft, in order to be able to use the properties to become or remain familiar with the aircraft. Among other things, this serves to make the best possible use of the capabilities of one's own aircraft in aerial combat.

In addition, many nations maintain their own aerobatic teams within their air forces , which also appear at air shows . Military aerobatic teams mostly use jet-powered combat aircraft for their demonstrations, mostly light training aircraft such as the BAE Hawk or the Aermacchi MB 339 . Some squadrons also use heavier combat aircraft such as the F-18 . Just like the type of aircraft, the number of aircraft varies between the squadrons, usually between five and eight aircraft. Exceptions are the Red Arrows with nine and the Frecce Tricolori with ten machines.

The formation flying plays for military aerobatics a much larger role than in the civilian sector. The duration of the flight demonstrations varies greatly between the different squadrons. While the Patrouille Suisse program lasts around 18 minutes, the Red Arrows takes up to 30 minutes. In general, shortened displays are flown in bad weather, especially heavy cloud cover and rain. Usually one speaks of three program variants in military association aerobatics : from the fair weather program or full display , from the rolling display when cloudy, and from the flat display or also bad weather program when the weather conditions are unfavorable, which just allow a demonstration.

After the accident in 1988 on the Ramstein Flugtag with 70 victims, German air shows are almost no longer the order of the day and, above all, strict requirements have been imposed, which severely limit the distance to the audience, flight direction and figures, or military association aerobatics in their full development allow. The Bundeswehr had already in 1962, after the crash of a Starfighter formation of the air force , waives his own aerobatic teams, arrived in which all four pilots killed.

The best-known military aerobatic teams include the British Red Arrows , the French Patrouille de France , the Swiss Patrouille Suisse , the Italian Frecce Tricolori , the US Blue Angels and Thunderbirds , the Russian Russkije Witjasi and the Turkish Turk Yıldızları .


Especially in the US was Wingwalking and other acrobatics on aircraft popular. Such stunts also place very high demands on the pilot (center of gravity, aerodynamics, "considerate" flying). Nevertheless, they are not aerobatics in the narrower sense, even if a loop is flown in addition.
Aerobatics with the Mudry CAP-10B at an air show at the Albstadt-Degerfeld airfield

Basically, a distinction must be made between “pure” aerobatics practiced as a sport and demonstrations at air shows . The difference is comparable to that between artistic gymnastics and circus acrobatics.

In (pure) aerobatics practiced as a sport, a pilot tries to fly given figures as precisely as possible. There are deductions for every deviation from the ideal form, whereby these deviations can only be recognized by experts, which makes this form of aerobatics less interesting for laypeople. The aerobatics shown at air shows, on the other hand, are mostly tailored to a lay audience: the focus is on the spectacular show, the flying technique takes a back seat. In English, two different words have emerged for these two types of flying: "Aerobatics" and "Stuntflying". However, this distinction is not consistently applied, especially by laypeople. This linguistic distinction does not exist in German.

Sports aerobatics are no more dangerous than normal flying if the pilot is trained in aerobatics and keeps to the limits of his abilities and those of the aircraft. During his aerobatics training he deals intensively with these limits and learns to master even unusual flight conditions. Aerobatic training is therefore also seen by many pilots as useful safety training. The legal minimum flight altitude for aerobatics, 450 meters in Germany, is also sufficient to intercept an aircraft again if it should "fall out of a figure", which happens again and again, especially during training or when practicing a new figure. Therefore, accidents in aerobatics are very rare. (A lower minimum altitude applies to competitions in the advanced classes.)

In flight shows, on the other hand, the pilots sometimes fly considerably lower in order to offer a spectacular show. If a maneuver fails at this height, there is hardly any time or space to correct the mistake. Eric Müller sums it up in his book Flight Unlimited , written in 1983 , an aerobatics textbook that is still considered a standard work today: “For sixty or so years there has been a permanent competition at air shows to determine who can fly the deepest inverted flight can. This competition was won every time by the pilot whose inverted flight ended in the ground ”(translated from English). The formation flight also harbors dangers that should not be underestimated.

The following two accidents can be traced back to these two causes:

  • In Germany, public air shows came under fire when, on August 28, 1988, during an accident during an air show in Ramstein, Rhineland-Palatinate, three Frecce Tricolori military aircraft collided at a height of approx. 40 m. One of the aircraft crashed into the audience on fire, killing 70 people and injuring around 1,000, 450 of them seriously with lifelong consequences.
  • The most serious accident to date at an air show occurred on July 28, 2002 at a military base near Lviv in the Ukraine . During a flight demonstration, a Sukhoi Su-27 of the Ukrainian Falcons crashed into the crowd and crashed into pieces. In the accident, 86 people were killed and over 500 injured, some seriously.

See also


  • Eric Müller, Arnette Carson: Flight unlimited '95 , Penrose Press, 1994, ISBN 0-620-18774-3 (An aerobatic textbook)
  • Luigino Caliaro: acrobats of the air. The world's aerobatic teams , Parbon Books Ltd. UK 2005, ISBN 1-40547-905-1

Web links

Commons : aerobatics  - collection of images
Wiktionary: aerobatics  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: aerobatics  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: aerobatic pilots  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. a b EU Regulation 1178/2011 (Eu-FCL) (PDF) , accessed on August 10, 2015
  2. Acceptable means of compliance (AMC)
  3. Standardized European Rules of the Air (SERA) ( Memento from December 27, 2015 in the Internet Archive )
  4. Acceptable means of compliance (AMC)
  5. ^ German Aeroclub: Recommendations for training in glider aerobatics , pdf 174.7 KB, accessed on April 2, 2009
  6. Federal Office for Civil Aviation FOCA: Pilot examinations and licenses. Retrieved January 31, 2017 .
  7. Federal Office for Civil Aviation FOCA: Pilot examinations and licenses. Retrieved January 31, 2017 .
  8. RFP Art. 152 RFP
  9. Swiss Federal Office of Civil Aviation: Page no longer available , search in web archives: Flight program for training in simple aerobatics with gliders (318.14.140 D)@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /
  10. RFP Art. 153 RFP
  11. Achievement badge for glider aerobatics (DAeC) - Introduction
  12. Achievement badge for glider aerobatics (DAeC) - bronze
  13. Achievement badge glider aerobatics (DAeC) - silver
  14. Achievement badge glider aerobatics (DAeC) - gold
  15. Achievement badge for glider aerobatics (SAGA)