Flying a Line – A Critical Skill that Every Aerobatic Pilot Must Master

If you have had an introduction on Aerobatic flying, then you probably know about the fundamental skills related to the latter – lines, turns, loops and rolls. Among these maneuvres, flying the line is perhaps the most important and the reason for which will be discussed in this article.

Now when we say fly the line, it means that a pilot maintains the wings of the aircraft level, 45 degrees (up or down) and vertical (up or down). The line is level when the angle of the wing is level, 45 degrees, or 90 degrees to the horizon.

From the descriptions mentioned above, you might think that flying a line is easy which is often not the case. <any pilots have the most trouble with straight and level since:

  • Pilots feel that it is “unusual” to apply the pressure needed on the controls to hold a level line in flight
  • Pilots learning aerobatics are still not sure about sight image and do not know what direction and level look like.

What makes the skill so important in aerobatics? What does it look like?

Flying a line (45-degree line) is the foundation of aerobatics. It is a component of lots of popular aerobatic techniques, and it is well within the performance capability of all aerobatic aircraft.

 To begin a 45 degree up against the line, develop proper airspeed which is typically around 140 to 150 miles per hour for up lines and “sluggish flight” for downlines.

You always begin a maneuver from straight and level:

  • Pitch to the desired angle (the line): 45 degrees up or down.
  • Fly the line (hold selected attitude for a given period).
  • Recover to straight and level flight (hold the elevation).
  • Refer to the 45-degree line sight image. When the nose pitches up or down. The pilot right away looks left and watches for the appropriate angle to appear versus the horizon
  • Set the line (rapidly unload elevator) at a proper attitude. I consider this a vital technique to promote a practice of proactive decision making– an excellent quality in an aerobatic pilot.
  • Continue looking left when flying up lines, but return to looking directly ahead during downlines (less psychological tension). When flying down the line, fly to a point on the ground (expect to use a lot of forwarding stick pressure during 45 down).
  • Recover 45-degree lines after a three-count or to accomplish a target airspeed. Return to looking straight ahead as you recover to level flight (holding altitude).

In the beginning, think about that vertical lines are just like 45 lines; well sort of, they are just shorter and steeper (90 degrees to horizon somewhat of 45 degrees). If you fly with a moderate throttle setting, it will be challenging to hold level flight when recovering a vertical line. Instead, push out of the vertical up into a 45-degree downward angle. As you might have already realised, flying the line is not as simple as it seems. However, it is a fundamental step in developing aerobatic flying skills and one of the challenges that you can expect. Nevertheless, mastering the craft is invaluable as it will enable pilots to keep their aircraft from stalling better, manage yaws and maintain orientation in any flight situation.

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