Air shows are now one of the most popular spectator events in the UK. Over 250 civil flying displays are held annually, attracting over two million spectators.
Those participating in such displays must adhere to the highest public and personal safety standards. These notes are intended to advise display pilots to help them avoid the pitfalls previously encountered.
Instructions for display pilots
Aerobatics, in particular display flying, is a specialized branch of aviation that frequently requires operating the aircraft close to the limits of the legal flight envelope. Unfortunately, a few pilots are murdered while performing each year. Many of these pilots had a great deal of experience, and we're experts in their specific aircraft and display. What steps may be taken to reduce the risk?
A lot of different things can have an impact on how a flight turns out. Many of these are encountered before the pilot even approaches the aircraft. You need to be highly driven, have lots of spare time, be comparatively worry-free, enjoy a reasonable level of personal fitness, and be generally worry-free to be a successful display pilot.
Once you are confident that you are physically capable of being a display pilot, you should evaluate your professional fitness. In light of the kind of aircraft you're going to display, you'll need to evaluate your total experience. A current pilot's licence, a current medical certificate, a certificate of experience or test, and, if necessary, an exemption suited to the aircraft you intend to fly are all required. You must also possess a Display Authorization before engaging in a display in front of the public.
Planning your display
Your sequence of manoeuvres should be designed to emphasize the audience's entertainment component of your presentation. No matter the conditions, your workload should always be considerably below 100 per cent of your capability in the aircraft you are flying. Always prepare for the unexpected by having extra resources available.
Creating a display routine
• The most important single factor is safety
• The spectators should be able to see the entire display
• Choose manoeuvres that:
• Are well within your own and your aircraft's capability
• Can be safely flown at a low level with established and practised escapes
• Show your aircraft to its best advantage
• Minimize flying straight and level between manoeuvres
• Reduce the risk of crashing into the crowd, e.g. wiping out the crowd
Avoid starting a display sequence immediately after takeoff during your first show season. Whatever your initial calculations, you'll likely discover that your sequence initially takes longer than anticipated. This, however, will correct itself as you get more accustomed to your habit.
Practising for your display
Depending on the aircraft type, you should practise flying at a safe height when you first start. As a result, your presentation will take longer. Remember that an aircraft's performance at this altitude may drastically differ from its performance at sea level.
Once familiar with the order, you can gradually lower your base height. Refrain from reaching your display height right away. Before implementing a low-level display height, make gradual decreases. As you gradually lower your height, it should not be surprising that being close to the ground causes your mind to become more focused. Allocate yourself a period on and a time off when you are at display height and don't forget to check the wind and consider its impact throughout your presentation.
Find a seasoned pilot to observe you and provide feedback, focusing on your display's safety and quality. What looks alright to you can give pilots observing pause. Request as much feedback as you can, and if you encounter someone who seems qualified, take the chance to ask them to observe you. This is simple to do if you work for a company with many pilots, but if you operate independently, you might want to look for a "mentor" who can periodically offer sound counsel.
Preparing for your display
As soon as you have the display's information, you should:
• Plan your route, considering fuel needs, detours, potential hazards, display frequencies, and other factors.
• To choose the best visual references, get and create maps and charts that are correctly scaled, including a large-scale map of the exhibition location and its surroundings.
• Record your arrival and departure times and any scheduled detours, meals, fuel, parking, or other ground-related expenses.
• Arrange for overnight accommodations if necessary.
• Make sure you have the necessary equipment, spares, and so on.
If you come on time, perform flawlessly in the designated location, and leave precisely on time, your display will be successful. You can prepare for a successful exhibition by doing the things listed below.
Organize your display
If you want to avoid misunderstandings, get in touch with the show organizer and ensure his opinions on your suggested exhibit are the same as yours.
Engines can and will fail, frequently when least expected. Include sporadic power unit emergency drills, starting with lots of height, and prepare your response.
To give yourself enough time to deal with the unexpected or a change in the scheduling of the display, arrive at the aircraft sooner than usual. Aim to do your preflight inspections carefully (twice).
The distance you have to travel after your display may determine your gasoline state during it; the less fuel you carry, the better your aircraft will perform. However, you should always reserve a reasonable reserve if something unexpected happens.
Height of density
Remember that even in high-performance aircraft, high-density altitudes brought on by a hot day or a high-altitude aerodrome will negatively affect engine and aircraft performance – high altitude, high temperature, or high humidity equals reduced performance.
Before starting a demonstration, you should, wherever possible, perform a fast, functional check of your aircraft at a safe height. Check the engine acceleration, draw your maximum allowed "g," any services you'll be using, and, if acceptable, perform a brief inverted run.
Do not Relax!
Your display is not finished until the aircraft returns to the ground in dispersal and shuts off. At the exhibition site, taxiing demands the same attention and caution. Remember that getting the aircraft safely on the ground in dispersal, parked, shutting down, and getting out of it safely should be your top priority.