Aarron Deliu discusses his career as an aerobatic pilot

Aarron Deliu is an Australian Aerobatic and Business Jet Pilot, and he performs in airshows and competes in aerobatic competitions. He is the current Australian Advanced Aerobatic Champion and International Danube Aerobatic Champion, and is preparing to represent Australia at the World Aerobatic Championship.

Aarron, how did you get involved in aviation and aerobatics?

I got involved in Aviation at the age of 14 when I met a pilot at a career’s day event. I remember then having the realisation that being a pilot was a career choice and a real possibility for me, something that had never entered my realm of thinking.

The pilot told me what it took to become a pilot, it seemed like a hard journey, but I just knew it was something I wanted to do, even though I hadn’t even flown a plane yet.

I hit a large obstacle early on, I was a C grade student that needed to take higher level subjects to be able to enter university to later obtain a degree in Aviation.  After much convincing, the school allowed me to change into the required subjects, but I had to do extra tutoring and self-study to catch up as I was already half a year behind, but I was so motivated that I wasn’t going to let anything get in my way.

I joined two flying clubs and got several odd jobs including being a paperboy, shop assistant and junior soccer coach to be able to fund my pilot lessons. I started training as soon as I could afford to, progressing through the requirements and obtaining all my licences at the earliest possible age. At 15 I soloed a Glider, at 16 I soloed a Cessna, at 17 I obtained my private pilot licence, at 18 my Commercial Pilot Licence and at 21 my Airline Transport Pilot Licence.

At 16 I also I got the chance to try aerobatics and fell in love when I did my first loop and barrel roll. The dynamic nature of aerobatics from the G forces to the speed got me immediately hooked.

At 18 I was fortunate enough to win a scholarship to obtain a low level aerobatic rating and was asked to perform at the Busselton Airshow in Western Australia. This is where my passion for Aerobatics really began. It was at this point that I decided to focus on aerobatics, but I found making a career out of it to be impossible at that point in time, so I joined an airline and later moved into Business Aviation.

In 2016 I went as a spectator to my first World Advanced Aerobatic Competition, which was held in Poland. Here I saw some of the world’s best pilots compete and thought that I could be at that level too, hence I decided to start competing to see if I was capable. I am now flying the Extra 330sc, competing regularly and really satisfying my true passion and “living my dreams”.

Looking back, really for me, meeting that pilot changed my life and in turn I aspire to do the same. I enjoy sharing aviation with the people of all ages, trying to inspire them to take up a career in aviation or to just take up flying as a hobby. If I am able to impact one person for the better, it’s all worth it.

How long have you been in the industry?

I have been involved in aviation since the year 2000, so 18 years.

What kinds of events do you perform at?

I have done many airshows in the past such as, Busselton Airshow, Cunderdin Airshow, Pearce Airshow, Australia Day airshows, as well as many flying displays at aero club events. However, my main focus for 2017 and 2018 was aerobatic competitions and it will also be the case for 2019 but moving into 2020 I will also be focusing on air shows and hopefully air racing.

First and foremost, I want to have solid and consistent results in the competitions before focusing on the different aerobatic disciplines such as airshow flying and air racing.

How often do you compete in aerobatic events?

As much as I can, last year I competed in three competitions and was fortunate enough to win two of them. In 2019 I plan to compete in three, possibly four depending on the scheduling and welcome everyone to come to watch. The three confirmed competitions are:

What kind of skills does it take to succeed as an airshow/competition pilot?

What I love about aerobatics is that it requires many skill sets in different fields to excel, such as:

  • Good hands and feet “what we call stick and rudder skills”.
  • High level of health/fitness – to handle the positive and negative G forces.
  • Good situational awareness – knowing where you are at all times.
  • Good knowledge of aerodynamics and general aviation.
  • Good memory – to remember the sequences.
  • Mental strength – to be able to control emotions and stay calm.
  • Sound knowledge of the weather – due to the possible impact on your flight (i.e. how the wind affects manoeuvres and/or how the pressure and temperature will affect aircraft performance).
  • Strong understanding of your own limitations, flaws and strengths.

While one does not need to be perfect in all of them, they do need to always strive to maintain a high level of competency in all to be successful.

How many aircraft types have you flown and how many flying hours do you have?

I have approximately 6000 hours on a total of over 50 different aircraft types including gliders, vintage aircraft (such as the de Havilland Tiger Moth), military jets (like the Aero L39 Albatros), helicopters (such as the Robinson 22 and Bell 47), aerobatic aircraft (like the Extra 300 and Extra 330sc), airliners (such as the Boeing 767 and the Fokker 50) and business jets (such as the Bombardier Global 6000).

How dangerous is aerobatics?

I get asked this question a lot, along with “aren’t you scared of doing that stuff?”

As with many things, there is an inherent level of risk involved, but a skilled aviator will understand that mitigating and reducing these risks are an essential part of the job.

Whenever asked to perform or demonstrate, I always consider the risk/reward balance and if it’s worthwhile I then take the steps required to reduce the risk to as low as possible to what we call “an acceptable risk” by identifying all the hazards and making a detailed plan to mitigate them.

However, if I find the reward does not outweigh the risk then I just say that I am unable to do the task/performance. I then review their objective and look for other ways to achieve the desired result.

Safety is always number one for me.

You said you want to inspire the next generation, please tell us how can one become an aerobatic pilot?

The first step is to get your pilot licence. I would first visit Aviation Voice to view flight schools near you to train for your pilot licence. The Aviation Voice website has a wealth of information that will help you on your way.

After that you will require specialised training in aerobatics, I would suggest going to a school specialising in aerobatics. There are great resources for finding a school on the International Aerobatics Club website.

I also recommend you go to some competitions and watch. Consider getting involved in judging and the organisation of competitions; you will learn a lot by watching, judging and just by being around pilots.

You can also join your national aerobatics club; I am personally a member of the Australian Aerobatics Club (AAC)  and the International Aerobatics Club (IAC). Also consider spending time on the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) website, and Commission Internationale do Voltige Areinne (CIVA) website, which is a part of FAI.

If after all this you are still passionate and motivated, then start competing. Get some specialised coaching, I recommend you engage aerobatic coaches like Patty Wagstaff in the USA, Klaus Schrodt in Germany, Romain Fhal in France, or Joel Haski in Australia to help you progress to competition level flying and airshows.

If you want to take aerobatics professionally, you should look for sponsorship. I am fortunate to be sponsored by InCrew a leading pilot and aviation staff recruitment company however we are presently looking to partner with more great companies.

From my perspective professional aerobatics isn’t just a job, it’s something that becomes your life; it requires complete dedication, belief in yourself, patience, focus and training to be successful.

What do you see for the future of the sport?

Aerobatics is always evolving, but to me the most interesting competition is the Red Bull Air Race.

The Red Bull Air Race has taken the world’s top aerobatic pilots and developed a unique race, a race that combines low level flying, speed and high G’s. Making it the fastest motorsport on Earth. I highly recommend you go and see a race if you haven’t already; it’s amazing. I believe the Red Bull Air Race will continue to be at the forefront of the sport for the foreseeable future.

As for the aerobatic competitions space, the FAI is putting on more and more competitions and the crowds and interest is always growing. This year alone there is another World Intermediate level competition (the second of its kind ever), the European Advanced Aerobatic Competition, and the 30th World Aerobatic Competition as well as many national competitions. It’s exciting times in aerobatics.

Besides the upcoming competitions what’s next for Aarron Deliu Aerobatics?

I have just started the training season and have a lot of flights and practice planned leading up the competitions. Besides that, we are growing our online and public presence, we are focusing on growing our online following and working with our sponsors and potential sponsors for joint marketing campaigns.

Thank you Aarron for your time!
You can follow and Learn more about Aarron Deliu at facebook.com/aarron.aerobatics


Christian Woods
Christian Woods
Christian is a morning reporter and technology columnist for Best in Australia. Christian has worked in the media since 2000, in a range of locations. He joined Best in Australia in 2018, and began working in Melbourne in 2019.
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