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Monday, 24 February 2014 16:56

Aileron Rolls and Their Importance Featured

Written by  Snap&Roll
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Tonel por tiemposThe definition of a roll has changed a lot since José Luis Aresti defined the slow roll as the 360º rotation of a plane along its longitudinal axis for a duration of less than 15 seconds.  He called the roll that lasts more than 15 seconds the “Super Slow Roll”. In reality, the term "slow" had nothing to do with the rolling rate that the maneuver produces, rather it was used to differentiate it from the super slow roll. 

In current terminology, there is no "super slow" roll as there was previously. The slow roll is now part of the family of aileron rolls and is more commonly used under this name. Aileron rolls are divided into rolls with stops (hesitation rolls) and rolls without stops (non-hesitation).

Aileron rolls make up 1/3 of all rotations you might find in any current Known program, i.e. they form part of the trilogy of rotations found with flick rolls or "Snaps" (positive or negative) and spins (upright or inverted), playing an important role in the total K points for the program, as we discuss below.

At present, more modern aerobatic planes allow for rolling rated higher than 400º/second, a level of performance far from the first aerobatic planes, which had difficulty-reaching 90º/second.  Without a doubt, this elevated performance improves the impressiveness and explosion of the rotations. But at the same time, it increases the difficulty in maintaining constant visual contact with our reference, which is necessary for rotating around it and performing the roll in a satisfactory manner. At the same time, it drastically reduces the precision in the stops because of the velocity of its rotation, easily causing "Vibrations" (corrections produced by over rotations).

With training, precision is achieved with less visual reference and more through "timing," i.e., the time to move the stick to maximum deflection and return to the neutral point.

El Tonel en la simbologia Aresti

The roll in the Aresty


is true that if you are lucky enough to fly a plane that rotates at these elevated regimes, you can cover up a number of errors when performing rolls; but you must keep in mind that in competition, it's very common to work at broad speed regimes. This means that if you don't have a strong rolling technique, these errors can increase during rotations where rolls are performed at very low speeds, and as a result, they may be severely penalized by the judges. In these planes, although inputs are very small, having good feet (rudder) and stick coordination allows us to obtain the rhythm and necessary inputs to perform a good roll without errors.

Good precision, not losing height, maintaining direction, and good rhythm - all submerged in the harmony of flight - are the key elements that judges look for and require of pilots performing these maneuvers during competition. Aileron rolls, therefore, form a very important part of aerobatic competition training for the pilot, not only in terms of being able to perform them in all variations of lines and flight speeds (horizontal, vertical or at 45º; climbing or descending, from positive or negative, separated or combined, in the same or opposite directions), but also because they form almost 35% of the total K points of an aerobatics program. As our first example, let's take the Unlimited Q program from this year.   It has a total score of 408 K with 9 figures.  If we count the figures that include rolls, we get a total of 9 figures. It means 100% include aileron rolls as maneuvers that complement the figures. To put it simply, the total of Ks that we get are impacted in large part by the quality of the aileron rolls. Meanwhile, if we sum the K score of the maneuvers that include aileron rolls separately and add everything together, we get a total score of 138 Ks, reaching almost 33% of the total K points of the program.   

Múltiples toneles en descenso

Rolls make up 1/3 of all rotations you

might find in any current Known program

Another good example is this year's Advanced Known program, with 261 total K points and 9 figures.  78% of figures include rolls (7 out of 9 total) and the total K points for rolls is 90, making them 34.5% of the total K points for the program. From this data and analysis, we can conclude that rolls have a high level of importance in the majority of Advanced-level Known programs and understand why judges place such a high requirement on them in international competition.  Mastering rolls and their subcategories in any position, whether at high or low speeds, is the key to advanced aerobatics. 

Mastery requires training. An example of a good way to progress with rolls is to begin with more simple or basic rotations; a full roll or two half roll, and little by little, you are able to do them with 4 point or 8 point, beginning by rotating towards the more comfortable side and then towards the other. Once you are comfortable with the “clean maneuvers”, you can advance a little more to include opposite and linked rotations; two quarters towards one side and one and a quarter toward the other, half to one side and 2 quarters towards the other, 3/4 to one side and 3/4 towards the other, etc., increasing difficulty as you go on, first at low speed and then high speed, in horizontal, at 45º lines or at a vertical. The more we practice the rotations, the more the sharp rotations mold to our minds and the more precise our stops become. At first, the imprecision we experience can be frustrating, especially in complex rotations, but practice and consistency lead to considerable improvement.

In reality, during competition, you don't have to perform technically perfect rolls, but you do have to create the illusion of perfection when performing them.  Generating this illusion or feeling for the judges will earn you a higher score than someone who doesn't generate it. Neil Williams made a statement that I think is very true about the complexity of mastering rolls: "There are so many parameters to control in such a short time that I have to ask myself if the majority of pilots ever make it to a day when they perfectly master rolls." Looking at rolls from this perspective and understanding the importance they have in modern aerobatics - as well as observing the increasing number of Ks they represent in programs - it's not surprising to me when some judges say they recognize a winner immediately just by observing how his plane rolls.




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