A good place to start regarding general information about aerobatics is the FAQ page on the Aerobatics Server. The place to find out about competitive aerobatics is the International Aerobatic Club (IAC). More information will be added to this page as time permits. Meanwhile here are two important articles on G-LOC (instantaneous loss of consciousness that can occur at relatively low G levels).
1. Australian report with G-load data acquisition from a Decathlon during a sportsman level sequence. 118KB.
2. Australian Advisory Circular relating to G-LOC. 188KB.
As with other topics there isn’t a book out there that will do everything for you. Generally speaking the more you read the more little tidbits and insights you will gather that will either help you get better at the game or confuse the heck out of you. These reviews are written from memory. Many of my books reside on bookshelves other than mine. It saves space and reduces the baggage that one has to carry through life. That goes with now outdated LP and cassette collections. So accuracy may suffer here. If you have a book review to add, send it in.
Better Aerobatics, Alan Cassidy, 2005
If you don’t have a large collection of books already this is a good one to go for first. Mostly it covers flying in a fair amount of detail. As with other books there are a few mistakes so be careful. Pretty much every major flying topic is covered from energy management, lines, Aresti, positioning and basic through unlimited maneuvers. Descriptions of techniques and maneuvers are simple and as clear as any that I’ve seen in any other book. The descriptions of most of the maneuvers are detailed and get you on the right track and will save you a lot of time trying to figure things out, or understand what an instructor is trying to tell you. When the author get into tumbles and other unlimited maneuvers an assumption is made that you have some understanding of what is going on and the descriptions become less detailed.
Once again, be careful as not everything in the book is correct and some techniques won’t work in some planes, including the spin recovery techniques. The popular power off, opposing rudder, hands off technique was report not to work in several modes on several airplanes by one of it strongest proponents, Gene Beggs. See below. One aircraft reported not to respond is the ever-popular Decathlon when in an inverted spin.
Flight Unlimited 1995, Annette Carson and Eric Muller, 1994
This is a rewrite of an original edition with a few additions. Annette Carson translated for Eric Muller and the original was ahead of its day in terms of clarity and superior content. It still has relevance today. By today’s standard clarity is not as good as some other books. Particularly useful in this book are descriptions of the vertical roll and the spiraling tower (a tumbling maneuver invented by Eric Muller). The book also entertains with the Muller’s account of a weld failure in the controls in his Acrostar that left it only able to fly inverted, with a failed engine and too low to use a parachute, all in front of a show crowd. He repeated a feat carried out by Neil Williams see below.
Spins in the Pitts Special, Gene Beggs, 2001
This is more of a pamphlet than a book and the most useful stuff is printed in the first few pages, so that you get the message right away. The author is careful to aim the book at a specific aircraft, but relents towards the end of the book and describes some of the extensive testing that he carried out on various types and reports on some exceptions to the rule, which includes the Cessna 150 and the Decathlon.
Aerobatics, Neil Williams, 1975
In the U.K, back in the early eighties when I first started aerobatics, this was about the most useful book around. In those days I was earming my way through my PhD, finding instruction in aerobatics was difficult, affording it was impossible and one went about things pretty much the same way as the German officer in the film, Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines, did. You read a book and then went up and gave it a go. After all Galerkin, Laplace and Maxwell were harder to comprehend than Williams. The book was fairly cryptic to a beginner and was written from the standpoint of using a Stampe, Bucker Jungmann or a Tiger Moth. Neil Williams also recounts his adventure when the spar of his Zlin buckled leaving it crippled and only able to fly inverted. Not having a parachute he had no choice but to prepare for a landing. This story later inspired and helped Eric Muller save himself when a control failure left him with similar options. The description of the lamcovak in this book is as clear as mud.
Flight Fantastic, Annette Carson
Good coffee table book. Oversized, lots of pictures and historical detail about aerobatics.
The Lockheed Aerobatic Trophy, Tony Lloyd, 1976
Of historical interest.
Precision Aerobatics, Pere Ettingler, 1976
Aerobatics Today, Bob O’Dell, 1984
A lot has changed since ’84 so this is of historical note. A lot of descriptions of planes used up to that date.
Airspace restrictions reinterpreted
A note about airspace restrictions per 91.303 of the FAR. A link to the EAA about a change of interpretation by the FAA pertaining to the use of airspace under Class B airspace follows.
The text follows....
FAA ADOPTS EAA’S DEFINITION FOR AEROBATIC
FLIGHT ‘SURFACE AREAS’
March 16, 2006 - A recent finding by the FAA Office of Chief Counsel affirms an EAA petition filed in 1998 that sought to accurately define “surface areas” for aerobatic flight areas. FAA denied the petition in 1999, stating that aerobatic flight “may not be conducted within the lateral boundaries of the surface areas of a Class B, Class C, Class D, or Class E designated for an airport.” However, in response to a more recent petition filed by an EAA member, FAA reversed that earlier decision and agreed with EAA’s opinion.
EAA maintained that since the term “surface area,” refers only to those components of airspace that come in contact with the surface of the earth, aerobatics could be performed legally within Class B airspace (with proper ATC clearance) and/or underneath the floors of Class B airspace.
“re-surfaced” late last year when Robert Hucker, EAA 443420,
“The (1999 FAA) explanation to EAA’s petition didn’t seem right to me,” Hucker said. “Plus use of the term, ‘surface area,’ was inconsistent, so I decided to put together some facts and file my own petition.” During his fact-finding process, Hucker discovered EAA’s 1998 petition at the MSP Flight Service District Office (FSDO) and used that as the basis of his argument.
In a March 7 letter, Rebecca MacPherson, FAA Assistant Chief Council, Regulations, wrote in a letter to Hucker, “Upon review, we conclude that the EAA was indeed correct in its understanding of ‘surface areas.’ In responding to your inquiry, we concluded that our 1999 interpretation was inconsistent with the term ‘surface area’ as used by Air Traffic Organization (ATO) airspace planners to describe only airspace that touches the surface of the earth.”
Randy Hansen, EAA government relations director remarked, “EAA is extremely grateful to Mr. Hucker and his steadfast approach in recognizing and acting to correct this issue. EAA’s task is to now ensure the aerobatic community receives this corrected definition in a timely manner.”
So as long as the operational requirements of Class C airspace, Class B airspace, and other aerobatic flight requirements can be met, pilots may perform aerobatics under the outer areas (the classic “upside down wedding cake”) of Class B and Class C airspace. It’s also important to note that this is not a rule change, but simply a re-interpretation of the existing rule 14 CFR Part. 91.303(c).