Flying in close formation with other planes takes a steady hand and a whole lot of skill, which is just what the Flying Bulls Aerobatic Team’s leader Radka Machova has plenty of...
What is the biggest challenge in aerobatic formation flying?
"Formation aerobatics is really quite different from other types of aerobatic flying as it is more about taste, style and precision. The formation is very close together and there's no room for any mistakes. There's no opportunity for improvisation during the display. We can make some changes in response to the flight conditions - we can change direction and insert or remove certain manoeuvres. All the manoeuvres need to be rigorously practiced beforehand, of course."
Do you have a favourite flying manoeuvre?
"I like the loop with a 90˚ change in direction. You start by flying a normal loop and on the first quarter of the circle you have to do a quarter roll while still making the loop - it’s a very nice one for the crowd as well as for the pilot. The hammerhead is also a nice manoeuvre to fly [where the aeroplane goes up vertically then peels off to one side as if it is dropping slowly out of the sky]. All of them are difficult but it’s more challenging to fly them inverted [upside down] with your head down and the negative G force that brings. In my opinion, the inverted loop and mirror flight [one on top of the other, top plane upside down and mirroring the one below] are the two hardest ones."
"I don’t have any problem with the G force - for some reason, it's better for women."
How do you stay fit for the G forces you have to endure?
"I don’t have any problem with the positive or negative G force. I can’t say why, but for some reason it's better for women. In general though the pilot needs to have a very good nervous system and be in good health. I have to train well and also be confident that the rest of the team is equally healthy. I tend to get enough rest, eat well and I like to ride my bike, go swimming, cross-country skiing, scuba diving, snorkelling and in-line skating. I can be a bit lazy though and I don’t like going to the gym or doing any body-building activities."
Would you like to fly in the Red Bull Air Race?
"Personally, I am not an aggressive pilot and I really like thinking about new manoeuvres for our display rather than competing. I like flying for the crowds and our type of flying is very emotive, like poetry and dramatic theatre in the sky. I very much like being a spectator at the Red Bull Air Race!"
- The Flying Bulls official site
- Profile of team member Jiri Veprek
- Meet the' Godfather' of aerobatics Peter Besenyei
- Rainer Wilke heads upside down... In a helicopter