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Primer

Talk the Talk

Want to think and talk like an air show pilot? Below is a list of air show / aviation terms to help you. See you at the show!

AEROBATICS The art of acrobatic maneuvers performed in an aircraft.
AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL (ATC) A service operated by the appropriate authority to promote the safe, orderly, and expeditious flow of air traffic. The ATC tower at Fort Worth Alliance Airport operates 24 hours.
AFW Airport code letters for Fort Worth Alliance Airport.
ARESTI A system of aerobatic symbols, or "shorthand", designed by a Spaniard named Jose Aresti, enabling a pilot to diagram an act in an easy-to-read, at-a-glance order for both the pilot in the plane and people on the ground observing, announcing, or in the case of competition, grading.
BARRELL ROLL A broad maneuver in which the plane continually changes altitude and heading until, halfway through, the plane is high overhead, on its back with the nose pointing 90 degrees off the flight line. As the maneuver continues, the plane descends and continues to roll and turn as the pilot reduces power. At the bottom, the plane heads in its original direction at its beginning altitude.
CUBAN EIGHT A combined looping and rolling maneuver, which begins with roughly the first 5/8 of a loop. As the plane comes over the top and starts back down at roughly a 45 degree angle, the pilot rolls the plane upright. The plane levels off, the nose comes up and the maneuver is duplicated going in the opposite direction. The Cuban Eight, also called a Horizontal Eight, looks like the number "8" lying on its side.
ENTRY SPEED Target or desirable airspeed required at the beginning of a maneuver to ensure that the plane has enough energy or momentum to complete the maneuver successfully.
FOD Foreign Object Damage - AFW conducts a runway safety inspection that includes checking for FOD such as trash on the runway or around the airfield.
G-FORCE The force of gravity. Your body weight on a scale is measured at 1 G. As flight maneuvers are tightened up, G-forces increase momentarily. At 2 Gs, a 150 pound person weighs 300 pounds. At 6 Gs, that same person weighs almost half a ton. Most modern aerobatic aircraft are designed to withstand G-forces in the teens.
HAMMERHEAD A turnaround performed at the end of a vertical climb just as the airplane runs out of airspeed. With the engine at full power, the pilot stomps hard on a rudder pedal causing a full rudder deflection. The blast of wind off the propeller pushes the tail of the airplane to the side, the plane pivots in its own length, and down she comes, accelerating rapidly, completely under control.
HUMPTY-BUMP A negative-G or weightless push over the top of a vertical maneuver.
KNIFE-EDGE FLIGHT  Flight with the wings at a right angle to the ground, approximating a knife passing through the air. It is very nearly ballistic flight, the arcing course of an artillery round across the sky. Only a minimal amount of lift is generated by the side of the fuselage.
 LOMCEVAK Lomcevak - (pronounced LOHM-sheh-vock). A Czechoslovakian word translated as "Berserk Headache", it is actually a colloquialism meaning "Drunken Bum." The Lomcevak, also called the lump-lump, appears to be a totally out-of-control maneuver in which the plane tumbles nose over tail, wingtip over wingtip, across the sky.
 LOOP The maneuver the barnstormers were best known for. Entering the maneuver from the bottom, the pilot increases power and gently pulls the nose skyward. At full power with the nose straight up, the pilot checks the wingtips, left and right, to ascertain the wings are "square" to the ground, meaning the plane is truly going straight up. The pilot tilts his or her head back to find the opposite horizon. As the plane continues over the top on its back, the pilot sees the horizon go by the nose upside down. As the earth fills the windshield, the pilot reduces power. With the nose down, the plane accelerates and the G-force increases. As the nose approaches level flight, the pilot eases back pressure off the control stick, and the loop is complete.
N(....) “N” is the country identifier for aircraft registered in the USA. Aircraft’s registration number is often referred to as the tail number. Example N123FW
NAUTICAL MILE Measurement of distance. Equals 1.15 statute miles.
PPR Prior Permission Required - Each aircraft flying into AFW during the air show must be provided by Alliance Air Management a PPR number to fly into the airspace and land at Alliance.
POINT ROLL Sometimes called a Hesitation roll; a slow roll in which the pilot stops or hesitates at a number of "points". 
RED LINE The maximum speed the plane is permitted to achieve, as denoted by a red line on the airspeed indicator.
RUNWAY NUMBER The approximate magnetic heading of a runway, rounded off to the nearest 10, with the last zero omitted. For example, a runway in an East/West alignment (90x/270x) is Runway 9 heading East and Runway 27 [two-seven] heading West. In the case of parallel runways, they will be numbered 9L (for the LEFT parallel), 9R (for the RIGHT parallel), and 9C (if there is a CENTER parallel.) Continuing, Runway 18 [one-eight] heads south, and Runway 36 [three-six] heads north.
SHOW LINE The line along which a performance is flown, usually (but not always) parallel to the spectator restraint line and/or a runway. Distance is regulated by law - 500 feet away for prop-powered aerobatic planes, 1,000 feet for warbirds and 1,500 feet for jets. Planes may not be involved in aerobatics any closer than those boundaries. The area between the performance line and the spectators is referred to as "sterile.”
SIGNATURE A maneuver or a series of maneuvers that a professional airshow pilot uses to "sign" his/her act; a maneuver he or she is known for, usually appearing early in the routine.
SLOW ROLL A slow and graceful rotation about the nose-to-tail (longitudinal) axis, entered at a relatively high speed, in which the aircraft appears to almost drift across the sky.
SMOKE OIL Created by a miniature high-speed pump transferring very light-weight paraffin-based oil from a reservoir in the plane to the final stage of the exhaust system, where it "smolders", but does not burn. This oil has a very high flash point and is biodegradable. The smoke leaves a trail across the sky that lets spectators appreciate the maneuvers of the aerobatic performance.
SNAP ROLL A rapid rotation about the nose-to-tail axis, entered at a medium to slow speed. The wing is momentarily forced to "stall" or stop flying. Firm input of full rudder makes the plane appear to corkscrew through the air.
STALL The motion of the wing through the air produces lift. When the wing is moving so slowly through the air that lift to maintain flight is no longer developed, the wing is termed to be "stalled."
TAILSIDE A turnaround performed at the end of a vertical climb just as the airplane runs out of airspeed. The pilot keeps the nose pointed straight up and reduces power to idle. By skillful use of the controls, the pilot causes the plane to back up, tail first, toward the ground. Then by pulling the control stick back (up elevator), the nose tumbles forward; by pushing the control stick forward (down elevator), the plane tumbles momentarily onto its back as the nose comes down. Once the nose is down, the control surfaces take ahold of the air; the wings develop lift; and the plane is flying.
TORQUE ROLL Usually begun out of a dive to achieve a very high entry speed. It is a roll performed while the plane climbs straight up, still under full power. Once the nose is pointed straight up, the pilot initiates a roll away from the rotation of a propeller. (In domestic airplanes, the propeller turns to the right as viewed from the cockpit.) The resultant torque of that action turns the plane to the left. The pilot accentuates that rolling motion and maintains it as the plane slows its upward progress, stops and begins to back down (with the nose still straight up) toward the ground.
VERTICAL ROLL A roll performed while the plane climbs straight up. It may include a number of "point" hesitations.

 Portions of the content above was sourced from Atlantic Flyer