How to Complete a Barrel Roll in a Stunt Plane


A stunt pilot is probably one of the most exciting, dangerous, and unmatched jobs on the planet. To become one, you have to be a different breed of daring, risking everything to put on an incredible show for spectators below. Even if you have these characteristics, you must learn how to complete the various tricks and maneuvers of a stunt plane show. This article will walk through the steps to complete and describe how it feels to perform this iconic stunt move—the barrel roll.

What Is a Barrel Roll?

A barrel roll occurs when the stunt pilot, while flying straight forward, completes a full axial rotation. One wing turns over the other and rotates all the way round to return to the starting orientation. This means that the pilot must momentarily be upside down before flipping all the way over. The move, while seemingly simple, can be very complex and takes planning, skill, and, most of all, fearlessness.

How To Do a Barrel Roll

The most essential element for pilots to perform a stunt plane barrel roll is to be able to confidently monitor the instruments in the cockpit of the plane while under pressure. The pilot must be able to keep their bearings while upside down, quickly changing speeds and directions, and more.

Pace and Position

The pilot must begin the move by flying at a consistent pace and a balanced position. this means they have to fly at the same speed throughout the barrel roll and keep the nose of the plane facing the exact same direction during the entire rotation.

Roll and Pitch

Stunt pilots must also keep the same roll and pitch rate. This means they must rollover at the same speed throughout the move, not slowing down as they reach the halfway position. This is done by increasing the deflection of the rudders, elevator, and ailerons while at the peak of the roll. The pilot can then decrease all of these deflections when at the bottom of the roll.


The pilot can finally add some back stick pressure at the end of the roll to maintain cruising speed and picking up lost altitude. The most common mistake when performing a barrel roll is increasing the roll rate of the plane at the beginning half of the rotation. This adds unnecessary G force to finish the roll and can throw the pilot off-course.

Staying On Course

Another common mistake is not doing a perfect circle in relation to the horizon. The shape of the rotation must be consistent or the plane will veer sharply off-course.

What It Feels Like To Do a Barrel Roll

Imagine you are a confident, experienced, and skilled stunt pilot and are ready to try your first barrel roll. You have watched every training video and read every instruction manual, but want to know how it feels to do the real thing. The bottom line is it can be the most exhilarating and thrilling experience to be upside down in a fast-moving stunt plane on your own.

Any stunt move of this speed and difficulty will apply multiple G forces upon the pilot and riders. This will feel like intense pressure on the cabin as if a strong blast of wind shot directly at you. Most stunt pilots advise you to eat a light meal before attempting the barrel roll because it can cause many to feel sick on a full stomach!

It can also feel a little disorienting to be upside down while flying. For most people, seeing the sky below and the ground above might feel pretty confusing. However, you will only be upside down for a short time.

Nonetheless, there are few things in the world of stunt flying that compare to the sheer excitement of a barrel roll in a personal airplane. The feeling of overcoming danger at high speeds is an experience few people attempt and even fewer get to have.

Experience a Barrel Roll For Yourself!

Now that you understand the basics of this maneuver, it is time to get in the cockpit for the thrill of a lifetime!
Sky Combat Ace in Las Vegas offers several
aerobatic flying experiences that include the barrel roll as one of the many stunts they perform. You can soar through the air in a real stunt plane with one of our trained pilots to see what a barrel roll really feels like. You can even get behind the controls to fly the plane yourself under the supervision of our highly trained SCA pilots.

If you’re ready to book your

flying experience in Las Vegas, check out our
group packages or contact our team today to learn more! Get ready to have some fun and make unique Vegas memories that will last a lifetime.

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