It doesn't matter how many hours we practice and train in our aerobatic programs, or how many competitors we have and their skill-level, if we are not capable of facing and overcoming our greatest enemy: our mind.
Over the course of our sports careers, we will rarely use emergency parachutes; but we know that they are a vital part of our onboard emergency equipment. And we must be prepared should the fateful day arrive when there is an emergency onboard and we have no choice but to jump out of our beloved plane, the parachute being our only insurance and guarantee of life in the best case scenario. For this reason it is our responsibility to know how to use it and to perform the necessary checks and maintenance so that when we need it, it functions perfectly.
Martin Sonka, a military Czech pilot of L-39 Albatros and others, combines his military duties with his pasion, flying aerobatics competitions and exhibitions with his Extra 300SR and Edge 540. Pilot of the known Red Bull Air Races and winner of last Aerobatic Freestyle Challenge (AFC), Martin explains us how he got started in aviation, what are his expectations in the international competitions and describes his fascinating experience in the most Speed Air Race that ever took place in the old continent.
It is nine in the morning, and I arrive to LEIG airfield an hour and a half before meeting with Alex Stegner and Sascha to prepare for what will be my fourth flight at the controls of an Extra 330SC. This flight will not be like the ones before, where I practiced the 2013 “Q” program and my free routine. This time will be my first attempt at freestyle maneuvers, specifically the 45 Degree Tombel and the intense Knife Edge Spin.
In order to talk about the origins of aerobatics, we have to go back 90 years to the beginning of aviation, when the Wright Brothers succeeded in their first flight with Flyer I on December 17, 1903. Less than a year later on September 20, 1904, these same brothers accomplished the first aerobatic maneuver in the history of aviation, the 360 Degree Turn.