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Aviation Words of the Month — Aresti Dance

By Ian Brown, EAA 657159, Editor - Bits and Pieces, Board Member - EAA Canada Council

October 2021 – If you've ever been close to aerobatic pilots when they're going through their routine in their minds, you'll see them doing an odd, slow-motion dance. They wave their arms around, slowly indicating direction of movement. It's a bit like watching a little kid in an adult's body, but it's a vital part of the process of successfully competing in aerobatics.

The Aresti dance is performed to rehearse a sequence of what are called Aresti figures, which are contained in an FAI-approved document called the Aresti Catalogue.

Named after Spanish aviator Colonel José Luis Aresti Aguirre (1919-2003), a Spanish aerobatics instructor who developed them in the 1960s, they use a system of lines, arrows, geometric shapes, and numbers to describe the precise form of a manoeuvre.

The system allows pilots to understand what is expected of them in training or competition and it also allows pilots to invent new figures.

They are still published in book form by the Aresti family.

The catalogue classifies manoeuvres into numbered families from 1-9.

  • Family 1: Horizontal, 45-degree and vertical lines
  • Family 2: Turns and rolling turns
  • Family 3: Combination of lines
  • Family 4: No longer used
  • Family 5: Hammerheads, also known as stall turns
  • Family 6: Tail slides
  • Family 7: Loops and part loops, curved and angular
  • Family 8: Combinations of loops and lines
  • Family 9: Rolls, snap rolls, and spins

Families 1-8 are the basic figures, while family 9 adds a rotational element that can be added to the basic figures to increase difficulty.

An example Aresti sequence
An example Aresti sequence
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