'Music' Sessions Help Ensure Safe Aerobatic Performance

Last update: 24/03/2015

By Norsyafawati Ab Wahab

LANGKAWI (Bernama) -- Many are unaware that 'music' is an essential aspect to aerobatic pilot training.

The preparation routine is vital in ensuring aerobatic pilots deliver a smooth and safe performance.

Bernama interviewed a 37-year-old aerobatic pilot with the call sign "Tao" at the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition (LIMA '15) recently to find out more about the importance of 'music' in an aerobatic routine.


Tao, who piloted the fighter aircraft Rafale at the show, said that during 'music', pilots would do hand movements that simulate the way they would pilot their planes.

This is accompanied with corresponding body movements and the routine is repeated in a smart and fluid manner.

To the untrained eye, it may seem like the pilots are dancing or executing some martial arts technique.

However, each movement represents an act of piloting.

Crossing the palms and moving them upward symbolises "pull-G", a move that shifts the plane flight path to a 90-degree turn upwards.

Besides pull-G, other aerobatic manoeuvres include loops, rolls, lines and spins, as can be seen executed by pilots in any aerospace exhibitions worldwide.


As he stood under the scorching sun in his thick uniform, Tao explained how crucial the music sessions are in helping pilots memorise every aerobatic movement to be performed, in order to avoid costly mistakes that could lead to accidents or fatality.

Like every other pilot, Tao who had over 2,760 flying hours under his belt required time alone to concentrate and act out his aerobatic manoeuvres.

Despite the heat and the drone of the engines of nearby aircraft at the Langkawi International Airport runway, he was able to focus on his session and perform his movements with precision.


Tao said his performance in LIMA'15 would be his first since becoming a pilot for the French air defence team.

Performing aerobatic manoeuvres was a different experience for Tao, who previously was engaged in air combat missions in conflict regions.

However, his performances during the show proved to be stellar. Audiences were wowed with his seven-minute performance piloting the multirole fighter aircraft Rafale, twice a day.

LIMA '15, which took place from March 17-21, is the 13th edition of the biannual airshow. It is organised to help the growth of the local aerospace and maritime industry as well as the nation's defence sector.


Rafale International is the sole company participating in this LIMA's aerobatic show. Other aerobatic pilots are from the defence teams of Malaysia, China, Singapore and the U.S.

The Indonesian Air Force, however, pulled out at the last minute after one of its aircraft was involved in an accident while rehearsing for LIMA'15 on March 15.

Rafale International's third appearance at LIMA also sees the exhibition of two of its aircraft at the Mahsuri International Exhibition Centre. Both aircraft are currently being used by the French Air Force.

It also showcased to visitors of interest its Rafale Touch system, which features an interactive touch screen and an augmented reality view using a special tab that scans the internal system of the fighter jet.

The French twin-engine aircraft are designed and built by Dassault Aviation, Snecma (Safran Group) and Thales.