The popular characterization for this kind of flying is “stunt flying.” Pilots who engage in this activity are sometimes thought to be crazy daredevils. This romantic and somewhat sensational view is common in the media because it is exciting. It sells advertising and gets attention. The reality is very different.
Aerobatics competitors belong to the International Aerobatics Club (IAC), an organization of pilots who work to improve their skills and perfect the accurate performance of aerobatics figures and routines to exacting standards.
Jugdes grade the contestants, much like the figure-skating contests popular in the Winter Olympic Games. Aerobatics pilots are careful individuals who take pride in the attention they give to the safe flying and maintenance of their airplanes.
Aerobatics is a physically and mentally challenging sport that takes years to learn and a lifetime to master. World class pilots start with some natural talent, then dedicate thousands of hours in the air and more on the ground to train to be the very best.
As with the best baseball and football players, many desire the goal and few attain it. Unlike baseball and football players, the financial rewards are few. The primary reward is more like that of Olympic class athletes. It is the pleasure of having succeeded in creating a physical performance that is highly demanding, difficult, and sometimes beautiful to watch.
This introduction was written by Douglas Lovell and is Copyright © 2005, 2006, 2007 IAC Chapter 52.