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Aerobatics: Sport, Science, and Survival

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An interesting article on aerobatics:

Perhaps no other athletic endeavor is so demanding of simultaneous cognitive processing and fine motor skills in a physically grueling and mentally stressful environment as the sport of aerobatics. Few other athletes must practice their art while experiencing sustained load factors of ±4 to 6 g (1 g = acceleration due to gravity at the Earth’s surface = 9.8 m/s2). Under these conditions, the aerobatic pilot who intuitively understands the underlying physics of a maneuver can, when all else is equal, be more adept at its execution than an equally skilled competitor without such intuitive knowledge. To the combat pilot, understanding and deftness in aerobatic flight have often meant the difference between life and death. As for nonaerobatic pilots, whose federally mandated initiation into attitude excursions is limited to 60° banked turns, they too can profit from the safety and situational awareness gained through aerobatic experience. The same holds for the airline pilot, whose primary responsibility is passenger safety.

 

The ability to maneuver an aircraft in controlled flight about the full range of all three axes (roll, pitch, and yaw) while maintaining complete awareness of one’s dynamic environment is the hallmark of the aerobatic pilot. Skills thus acquired give the pilot the ability and confidence necessary to address almost any eventuality short of catastrophic airframe failure. To see how these skills are developed, this article will discuss the history of aerobatics, address fundamental maneuvers, and review some associated physics.

.... more.

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