Aerobatics - Manoeuvres

There are six basic aerobatic manoeuvres. All other aerobatic manoeuvres are simply combinations of these basic six.

Manoeuvre Description Example
Loop In a loop, the stick is pulled progressively rearward to pitch the nose up and over. The aeroplane will complete a 360o circle in the vertical plain. The wings remain level through out the manoeuvre. (Video embedded from YouTube on 4 October 2009)
Aileron roll In an aileron roll, the aircraft is rolled about its horizontal axis using the ailerons. The aircraft nose stays pointed in the same direction through out the manoeuvre. (Video embedded from YouTube on 4 October 2009)
Barrel roll A barrel roll is a combination of pitching up and rolling at the same time. If you imagine a 3D barrel, its as if the aircraft is flying around the outside of such barrel. (Video embedded from YouTube on 4 October 2009)
Stall turn In a stall turn, the aircraft does not actually stall. The aircraft is flown directly upward. The aircraft is then yawed, pushing the nose to the side until it is pointing at the ground again. The aircraft is then flown directly down for a short period before pulling out of the dive. If the aircraft is using smoke, the trail looks like an upside down U. In this video, the first manoeuvre the aircraft does is a stall turn, the second maneuvre is a combination of a stall turn and an aileron roll. (Video embedded from YouTube on 4 October 2009)
Snap roll A snap roll is a quick roll, using rudder and back pressure on the stick to force the aircraft to "auto-rotate". (Video embedded from YouTube on 4 October 2009)
Spin A spin can result when an aircraft stalls. The pilot is not in control of the aircraft, it is auto-rolling, auto-yawing and auto-pitching. After a certain number of rotations have been achieved, the pilot can then "recover" from the spin, using opposite rudder to the direction the aircraft is spinning. (Video embedded from YouTube on 4 October 2009)

Final note

Aerobatics pilots follow the simple law of conservation of energy, and always need to make sure they have enough airspeed to complete a manoeuvre. Bob Hoover explains this theory in the following video. Watch him pouring a cup of iced tea while flying a barrel roll!:

(Video embedded from YouTube on 4 October 2009)

Want to know more?

AviationKnowledge - Aerobatics
A look at competitive aerobatics, including videos from airshows and the redbull air race.
AviationKnowledge - Airshows
A look at airshows, including the normal events that take place.

Contributors to this page

Authors / Editors


Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License