Used in both full-size and model aerobatics, the ‘Box’ is the area in which a pilot performs the schedule. Although compulsory in competition, the box is a useful way to practice your aerobatics in a safe and controlled environment.
Consider the box as a stage where you will perform your show. Before you start to fly decide where you want the box to be and use visual clues on the ground to help orientate you. In the interest of safety when practicing, your box should have it’s lower limit no closer than 100 feet above the ground.
The picture in this post is simply for illustration and the distances given are for full size flying. If you were flying in competition, the box location and size would be decided for you. If practicing you will have to decide for yourself. For example, if I were flying at the LMMAC field I would use the electricity pylon as my centre point and the main east/west runway as the width of the box. I would also use the runway as the front edge and extend to two or three time the pylon height as the upper limit.
When starting out practicing your aerobatics, begin each manoeuvre into wind as this will make the aircraft more responsive to control and the groundspeed slower as you enter the figure. Try to be disciplined and turn around the circuit at the end of each manoeuvre before entering the box into wind again for the next. Of course, if you start flying competition the schedule will require figures to be flown in both directions, but this is for later on!
Using the box to start practicing aerobatics will help to keep you safe and disciplined. If you ever start flying competition it will be second nature to you and you will have a headstart over other newcomers who did not learn this way.
(Thanks to Garth Bingley Pullin for his ‘Park Pilot’ column in Airborne magazine, which made this post so much easier to write)