Our ASK 21 is a modern, state-of-the-art composite trainer and is fully stressed for basic aerobatics. With generous g-loading limits of +6.5, -4 times the force of gravity and a never-exceed speed as high as 151 knots indicated airspeed, it provides a comfortable platform for basic and intermediate aerobatic training.
But why perform aerobatics in a sailplane, anyway? And what kinds of pilots do that?
The answer to the first question includes both the sheer pleasure in performing a ballet in the sky, using only the energy provided by nature, and the quantum increase in your proficiency as a pilot and in your comfort in any flight condition.
In at least one sense, a fixed-wing aircraft, whether airplane or glider, is a brutally simple machine: for the most part it’s just a shape, and it flies because of the shape it has. That’s really all there is to it. The basic wing has no moving parts. In effect it’s the simplest tool known to humankind: it’s a wedge that we split the sky with. As such, it’s incredibly reliable. A wing will keep working, pretty much no matter what.
But nowadays an ever-growing proportion of pilots have spent their entire lives with digital electronic devices in their hands, purses or pockets. As we all know, digital devices run on software, and software is, alas, quite temperamental. It works when it feels like it but when the stars don’t align correctly it goes off the rails, absolutely without warning.
Because of this, more and more pilots of the up-and-coming generation arrive with a vague unease that somehow, someday, for no apparent reason the aircraft they fly may suddenly decide not to work any longer. On one level it’s an irrational fear, but on another level it’s a perfectly reasonable conclusion that’s based on real-world experience.
Often this fear can’t really be dispelled by any amount of patient explanation. In this situation, a better approach will sometimes be to undertake a little bit of aerobatic training. In this way the pilot begins to understand that even if the wing stopped working and the aircraft tumbled into an unusual attitude, all would not be lost and the situation would be easily and safely recoverable.
The best answer to the second question is that pilots who truly strive for precision in their flying will find that basic aerobatic training enhances their ability to command the aircraft in any situation. They understand exactly what their flight controls do and what they don’t do. The ability to fly with precision will pay dividends on every single flight.