What’s It Like To Be A Stunt Pilot


Do you enjoy the thrill of seeing stunt planes flying overhead perform defying
aerobatic maneuvers? Maybe you wonder what it would be like to be in the cockpit while making those maneuvers. If the thought of becoming a professional stunt pilot appeals to you, read on to learn more about this rewarding career. 

How do you become a stunt pilot?

Becoming a stunt pilot is not a career choice to be taken lightly, as it can be mentally and physically demanding. There is extensive training, and you need to log many flight hours before you have the opportunity to perform in an airshow. There are numerous career paths one can take to realize the dream of becoming a stunt pilot.


For example, some of our pilots were in the Air Force, Navy, or Marine Corps, where they trained and flew fighter jets. The excitement of being able to fly these jets led to a deeper love of flying. Once they retired from the military, they decided to pursue a civilian career as a stunt pilot. 


Other pilots may have flown commercial and passenger jets as a career. Instead of being restricted to specific flight patterns and unable to roll the plane during flight, it led them to pursue stunt pilot training part-time. Eventually, as the thrills and excitement of stunt flying grew, they transitioned into this career. 


Of course, some people just fall in love with flying at an early age from seeing stunt shows. They have a strong desire to learn to fly and decide they want to be the ones performing in air shows. 

Steps to Becoming a Stunt Pilot

Regardless of what career path you take to become a stunt pilot, you will need to complete the following steps:

  1. Obtain a private pilot license.
  2. Obtain a commercial pilot license.
  3. Complete flight training at an aerobatic flight school. 
  4. Join the Aerobatic Competency Evaluation (ACE) program. 
  5. Learn how to choreograph aerobatic maneuvers. 
  6. Enter amateur fight competitions and contests.
  7. Transition to county fairs and other small air shows to start getting noticed.
  8. Join an aerobatic team.
  9. Obtain sponsorship.
  10. Start performing in state and national shows and competitions. 
  11. Become popular enough to be invited to headline major national and international aerobatic air shows. 

What is it like to be a stunt pilot?

The life of a stunt pilot is not just the thrill of racing a plane through the sky and performing a wide range of acrobatic stunts. Most of your time is spent practicing and training to enhance and improve your skills. If you are part of a flight team, you will also practice with them to develop tricks fully. 

You also have to consider the financial aspect of being a stunt pilot. Owning a stunt plane is quite an investment, especially including maintenance and upkeep costs. This is why many stunt pilots seek sponsorship, much like race car drivers. 

Most importantly, you have to be dedicated. It can take years before you even start to gain recognition. Furthermore, you must be prepared for setbacks that can and do occur along the way, like accidentally crashing your plane. 

Suppose you are willing to put the time in, deal with setbacks, and persevere. The payoff is well worth every single second behind the controls of a stunt plane and being able to perform aerobatic tricks that impress spectators watching on the ground.

How safe are extreme aerobatic flights?

Most stunts performed at air shows may seem extreme to spectators but not as extreme to the pilots. However, there are always unusual tricks and tight formations that can be considered extreme in some cases.

Stunt flying has certain risks, just like other extreme sports. Although, most pilots find it no more dangerous than driving a car. Are there increased risks compared to normal flying? Of course, there are; however, regarding the aircraft used and the aerobatics being performed, with the proper training and equipment, stunt flying is relatively safe. 

Do aerobatic stunt plane accidents occur? 

Yes, there are aerobatic flight accidents every year. However, comparing the number of accidents to the number of stunt shows, occurrences of these accidents are relatively small. Since 2007, there have only been 96 reported air show accidents. 

FAA reported that, from 2007 through 2017, there were 44 fatalities at air shows and air races. The largest number of those fatalities took place in 2011 at an air race in Reno when a plane crashed into a grandstand. 

If you compare this to the number of fatal vehicle crashes in 2020 alone, flying a stunt plane is less risky. According to the
IIHS, 35,766 fatal car crashes in the United States resulted in 38,824 deaths in 2020. This amounted to an average of 106 deaths per day. 

Based on these figures, you can see that stunt flying is not as dangerous as driving. It is actually much safer. 

Is there a height requirement for pilots?

There is no specific height requirement for civilian pilots. However, commercial and passenger carriers may set their own specific requirements. In addition, the
Air Force does have a height requirement between 5 feet 4 inches and 6 feet 5 inches. Yet, the Air Force does allow people to apply for waivers and has approved them since 2014.

What are the best planes for aerobatics?

Aerobatic stunt planes require unique systems and designs to perform a wide range of maneuvers. The best planes include:

  • The Extra 330SC
  • The Edge 540
  • The Sukhoi Su-29
  • Pitts S-2C Series Planes

Deciding what plane is best also comes down to personal preferences and meeting the needs of the stunt pilot, stunt team, and sponsor, such as:

  • Safety
  • Speed
  • Performance
  • Aerodynamics
  • Maintenance and Upkeep Costs
  • Weight
  • Fuel Tank Size and Placement
  • Visual Appeal

Can I fly a stunt plane without a pilot’s license?

Yes, it is possible to fly a stunt plane without a pilot’s license in Las Vegas at Sky Combat Ace. We offer a wide range of flight experiences to help you decide if a career as a stunt pilot is for you. The only requirement is you must fly with one of our experienced and licensed pilots.

Instead of ride-alongs, you can get your hands on the controls as you are guided through basic and advanced aerobatic flying maneuvers. The only thing you need to worry about is whether or not you are going to lose your lunch.

Source link: https://www.skycombatace.com/becoming-stunt-pilot by at www.skycombatace.com