Freestyle Tips & Hints

The Freestyle should highlight what you and your airplane do best. The Free should be viewed as a perpetual "work in progress" - there is always room for improvement or optimization.

We also think all Sportsman pilots should do a Free. It's different from most everyone else (currently), and it makes the jump to Intermediate easier because you only have one new thing to worry about - the Unknown, and that's enough!

Here are a couple of cardinal rules to follow when designing a Freestyle, starting with Sportsman level rules and progressing through Unlimited:

  • Always use the maximum allowable points for your category

  • If you don't, you're giving away points! Use the Floating Point rule if you have to.

  • Always use the maximum number of figures

  • Until the CIVA bonus program is adopted for IAC. This reduces risk of point loss by spreading out the max points such that a single zero won't have as large of an impact. The exception to this rule is pilots trying for the U.S. Unlimited Team are required to fly a 10 figure Free, to align with CIVA.

  • For the first figure, blast into the box at Mach 2

  • WAKE UP those judges! Make your first figure exciting, and let them know that you are here to fly.

  • Choose the right figures for your airplane

  • If you have a blindingly fast roll rate, put in lots of rolls. If you have tons of power, put in lots of vertical stuff. If you have everything, well, you're lucky!

  • NO downwind spins

  • You're almost guaranteed an out, especially if there is a wind.

  • Place spins early in the sequence

  • You will probably be struggling for altitude at the end of the sequence - get the spin over with.

  • Use the minimum turn spin required for your category

  • More turns = more altitude loss, but not more energy - once you give that altitude away, it's gone.

  • Avoid recovering from spins on the "Y" axis

  • Spin recoveries are ugly, and there's almost always a wing low. While technically this is OK as long as you fix it, don't show the judges that.

  • Avoid cross box looping figures and 45 deg lines

  • While it's tempting to try and get away with something using the "if they don't see anything wrong it's a 10" philosophy, if the judges can't judge your figure (i.e. determine if a 45 is steep or shallow), they can't do their jobs, and probably won't give you a 10. Let them do their jobs - judge you.

  • NO center box loops

  • In fact, if at all possible, avoid vanilla loops altogether - they are very hard to score 10s on.

  • Cross box figures should always be on the upwind side of the box

  • The wind will blow you into the box, whereas if you are on the downwind end, it will blow you out!

  • Try to place a cross box "wind corrector" every 5 or so figures

  • Works whether there is a wind or not - if there is a strong wind, you'll be glad you did.

  • NO down-wind 45 degree lines

  • Hard to keep in the box.

  • NO back-to-back 45 degree lines

  • You're almost guaranteed an out.

  • NO half snaps

  • Very hard to stop accurately & on heading.

  • Don't beat yourself up by putting a lot of pushing in your Free

  • Remember you have to practice this Free all the time - give yourself a break.

  • Choose the minimum K rolling turn

  • Rollers are very difficult to score well on, so try to pick the minimum required - give the judges fewer reasons to downgrade.

  • Choose the minimum K on tailslides

  • Slides are risky and very easy to zero. Use the minimum K possible.

  • Place the slide portion of the tailslide on the "Y" axis

  • It's much easier to get away with cheat if the judges are looking at the top of the airplane.

A popular style that is emerging has been dubbed the "California Freestyle" - placing most or all the figures at the ends of the box - no center box figures. While this works well for fast airplanes that accelerate on horizontal lines, it must be flown properly so as not to be boring for the judges to watch. Even for fast airplanes, the ends must be centered in the middle 2/3s of the box.

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Last updated: Tue 10/21/2003 08:30 PDT

Copyright © 1999-2003 Cris Flint