Aerobatics Mentor

One of the top aerobatic pilots in the UK, Ed took his first loop aged six months, strapped to his mum’s chest, and has been hooked ever since. Inspired by his RAF fast jet pilot father, he started flying aged just 12 years old, and is currently a Top Unlimited Aerobatic pilot, ranked number two in the UK.

HOW DID YOU FEEL ABOUT TAKING ON THIS CHALLENGE?
I was surprised they were brave enough to take someone through this process. It normally takes someone years just to get a flying
licence, before learning to fly an aerobatics plane.

HOW DID IDRIS RESPOND TO THE CHALLENGE?
He was a fish out of water. He’d never been in a light aircraft, and he didn’t set foot on any plane until he was 18. At first I just flew so he could experience g-force. If I made him sick, which was a high probability, it would have been a huge psychological barrier.

 

WHAT TRAINING DID YOU DO WITH HIM?
I wanted to go through the AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association UK) aerobatics syllabus with Idris, which would teach him all the manoeuvres one by one, such as loop and stall turn. But Idris had a minor motorbike accident and we lost half of our training days. I had to throw the training guide away and give him the entire sequence at once.

WHAT WERE HIS STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES?
His tolerance to air sickness was very good. Everything else was tough. He’s a big, physical guy and he was too aggressive with the controls. I had to teach him to relax and use some finesse.

WHAT WAS YOUR RELATIONSHIP LIKE?
It was a roller coaster. If I met him in a club, DJing, he’d be in his comfort zone, easy to talk to, and charismatic. But he didn’t think he could do it and it freaked him out. Idris was down to earth and eager to learn. There was no ego.

DID YOUR ROLE AS A MENTOR INVOLVE HELPING HIM PSYCHOLOGICALLY AS WELL AS TECHNICALLY?
Yes. It’s really important in this sport to end on a high to keep motivation up. So I’d give him a pat on the back at the end just to make sure he felt he wasn’t banging his head against a brick wall.

COULD HE TAKE IT UP PROFESSIONALLY OR DO ANY OTHER COMPETITIONS?
I think he could have the skills, but the bottom line is that he doesn’t really have an interest in flying.

HOW DANGEROUS WAS THE SPORT FOR IDRIS?
Very. There’s no room for error when you’re 4,000 feet off the ground.