Aerobatics is the practice of flying maneuvers involving aircraft attitudes that are not used in normal flight.Aerobatics are performed in airplanes and gliders for training, recreation, entertainment and sport. Some helicopters, such as the MBB Bo 105, are capable of limited aerobatic maneuvers. The term is sometimes referred to as acrobatics, especially when translated.
Most aerobatic maneuvers involve rotation of the aircraft about its longitudinal (roll) axis or lateral (pitch) axis. Other maneuvers, such as a spin, displace the aircraft about its vertical (yaw) axis. Maneuvers are often combined to form a complete aerobatic sequence for entertainment or competition.
Aerobatic flying requires a broader set of piloting skills and exposes the aircraft to greater structural stress than for normal flight. In some countries, the pilot must wear a parachute when performing aerobatics.
While many pilots fly aerobatics for recreation, some choose to fly in aerobatic competitions, a judged sport.
In the early days of flying, some pilots used their aircraft as part of a flying circus to entertain.
Maneuvers were flown for artistic reasons or to draw gasps from onlookers. In due course some of these maneuvers were found to allow aircraft to gain tactical advantage during aerial combat or dogfights between fighter aircraft.
Aerobatic aircraft fall into two categories — specialist aerobatic, and aerobatic capable. Specialist designs such as the Pitts Special, the Extra 200 and 300, and the Sukhoi Su-26 M and Sukhoi Su-29 aim for ultimate aerobatic performance. This comes at the expense of general purpose use such as touring, or ease of non aerobatic handling such as landing. At a more basic level, aerobatic capable aircraft, such as the Cessna 152 Aerobat model, can be dual purpose—equipped to carrying passengers and luggage, as well as being capable of basic aerobatic figures.