DISPLAYS

The Pilot

Diana Britten

Diana flies at air shows throughout the UK and Europe, and is the only British female display pilot authorised to dazzle audiences with her unique brand of aerobatics down to a level of just 100' above ground.

As one of a select number who is able to predict precise recovery from the most complex of figures, her speciality lies in the mind-boggling territory of gyroscopic manoeuvres.

It was in 1995 that Diana won the British titles of Unlimited Level National and Freestyle Aerobatic Champion, and the importance of strict discipline and accuracy inherent in top-level competition flying remains evident in her public performances.

The Aircraft

Hanging in the air

Diana's chosen mount is a highly distinctive, blue-liveried single-seat CAP 232 French monoplane, which makes for a spectacular sight as it tumbles and spins through the sky.

Weighing very little, but with a powerful engine, its outstanding performance makes it able to hang in the air longer than seems possible, and to seemingly defy gravity.

Constantly surprising and unexpected manoeuvres, performed at zero speed, appear more akin to an aerial conjuring act - and when you add the deep-throated growl of a high-tuned 320hp six-cylinder engine, the result is both impressive and magical!

The Routine

Diana's approach is to prepare a different programme for each appearance, tailored specifically to the event venue and to whatever timing the organiser may require - although a typical display would last approximately 8 minutes. She selects manoeuvres from her repertoire to show the best of both her own skills and the aircraft's ability, but also to suit the individual site. Her lyrical routine lends itself perfectly to musical accompaniment, whether a classical piece such as Strauss's Blue Danube or something more contemporary.

Gyroscopic Magic!

CAP 232 displaying

Diana's favourite type of flying involves gyroscopic manoeuvres, which take advantage of the forces generated by the propeller as Diana juggles the stick and rudder to expertly guide the aircraft into an astonishing series of low-speed figures. With almost 'nothing on the clock', the aircraft tumbles tail-over-nose, spins upwards as well as down, slips sideways, revolves through 180 degrees on the spot, slides down backwards, and even goes into a flat spin! Altogether an awesome demonstration, as might be expected from a former British Champion and experienced competitor at World and International level.

The most famous of all gyroscopic manoeuvres is the "Lomcévak" (literally "headache"), but Diana has trained intensively to hone her skills and develop her own speciality figures. Among her unique specialities are the "Vortza", "Capella", "Corona" and "Stromboli", all of which demonstrate her ultimate control of gyroscopic magic.

Fly with Diana - Example display sequence

Display sequence

  1. Multiple Rolling Tailslide Dive in at 220 kts, then a 5G pull up to vertical. After marking a vertical line, a climbing 4 point roll is followed by a 2 point roll and then a flown roll that develops into a torque roll. After 2 or 3 full rotations the aircraft tailslides, exiting into wind. The down line is dressed up with a double flown roll followed by a vertical line and 7G pull out with a speed of 160 kts for...
  2. The "Vortza" With a 6G pull up, I mark a vertical line and roll right 360° then straight into a climbing knife edge spin which I discreetly transform into a descending knife edge spin, stopping exactly on heading ready to pull out at 7G for a...
  3. Rapid Rolling Stall Turn After a 6G pull up from 160 kts, I do 2¾ rapid rolls topping out with a stall turn and 1¾ roll on the down line to stop facing into the wind and pull out with 7G into the...
  4. Multiple roll/tumble/flick sequence At 180 kts, pull up to the 45° line, then a double two point roll is flown followed by a tumble stopping on the 45° line. From here I drop the nose a little, do a half roll to inverted then a 1½ tumble, stopping exactly on heading and in erect flight. Now with very few knots on the clock the aircraft is teased to the vertical and torque-rolled 180°, from where I coax it into a stall turn. Back on a vertical down line, the aircraft is at its happiest doing five or six consecutive flick rolls, stopping exactly on heading, then a 7G pull out downwind for the...
  5. Half Corona With 160 kts and a 7G pull up we arrive once again on the vertical. First a quick roll to the left and then a 360° negative flick roll right, pushing over to the horizontal the moment the flick has stopped, and we're ready for the...
  6. Flick Rolling Turn The aircraft doesn't want to fly, but I insist and off we go into a 180° flick rolling turn. Speed is minimal so I head into wind doing various rolls to position and accelerate into...
  7. The Rouade (tumble) Started from a 45° climbing line I wait for the speed to decay, then initiate the Rouade. Once it gets going, I adjust the controls to balance my gyroscope and it will happily rotate nose over tail until I tell it to stop, which it does precisely to take me back down wind and into a...
  8. Vertical Flat Spin 160 kts and another 7G pull up, once again into a climbing vertical. First comes a 360° roll left, then a positive flick roll which I flatten. This is a nice gentle figure and dependable, almost stopping and coming out on heading unaided. At 140 kts, a 6G pull out and straight into the...
  9. Double Inverted Rouade Here I pull through 135° to the inverted climbing 45° line. After waiting for the correct speed I do a double tumble, which makes a nice turnaround figure and brings me back into wind for a...
  10. Knife Edge to Knife Edge Tumble Motoring along a bit to get in the right position the speed remains at 160 kts. After a pull to the climbing 45° line, ¾ of a four point roll is followed by a Rouade knife edge to knife edge. Holding the knife edge, no speed is registered on the ASI, but we fly all the same. From here it's either a negative flick roll or an outside spin, once again on heading and down wind to...
  11. The Capella As usual, 160 kts and no more than 7G for the pull up. After a vertical line there is one roll left, then a left Rouade - one or two full rotations - must be stopped on the vertical with the wings level and ready to go into a torque roll. If the wind is strong I may want to head back into wind, so depending on that I tell the aircraft to do 3½ or 4 full rotations. With the smile of success, I close the throttle on the downline to control the speed, and pull out for the...
  12. Vertical Sideslip Pulling up, I stop about 10° - 15° off the vertical, close the throttle - to arrest the climb - then reopen it and set the aircraft up to do a wings level non-rolling 180° U-turn. By the time we have turned round, there is once again nothing on the clock! Pushing over to the horizontal I somehow keep the aircraft flying despite the low speed, and head off into wind doing a few ½ negative ½ positive flick rolls until it is time to wing over and position for the...
  13. Stromboli Diving from the last turnaround will leave me almost at VNE. From the centre point of the display line I pull into a 90° banked climbing spiral, to top out at 3000 feet. From the up spiral in a continuous movement the aircraft enters a positive flat spin. After 5 turns of flat spin we stop on heading and position for a turnaround to bring me back along the display line at low level and the...
  14. Double 4-Point Roll Flying along the display line at 180 kts I do a low level double 4-point roll and while still carrying max speed...
  15. The Finale! I pull up and manoeuvre the aircraft till it is perpendicular to the display line. After a short vertical, I pop it over into knife edge and fly away into the distance, half negative / half positive flick rolling.