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They see me rollin'...

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DVD Smith
1292684.  Mon Aug 13, 2018 5:31 am Reply with quote

Q: What is the name of the aerobatic manoeuvre where a plane does a sideways flip while staying facing forward?

[Klaxon: Barrel roll]

A: It's an Aileron roll, or a slow roll.

What most people know as a "barrel roll" isn't in fact one at all. A barrel roll requires the aircraft to follow a helical path by doing a sideways flip and a loop-the-loop at the same time, as if the plane was flying around the outside of a barrel (hence the name).



The move used to be known as a "sideways somersault", and was first performed at an air show in 1905 by accident, when the pilot made a sharp turn too suddenly. His co-performer, not to be outdone, immediately repeated the manoeuvre twice. [1]

What most people think of as a barrel roll, the steady sideways flip with no vertical movement, is either known as an "aileron roll" or a "slow roll", depending on the speed of it. A slow roll is when the pilot rotates the aircraft without affecting the straight, steady, level course of the flight. An aileron roll is quicker and much more erratic, and is named after the flaps found on the edges of an aircraft's wings. [2]

Q: What's the biggest plane to successfully perform a barrel roll?

In 1955, Boeing's chief of flight testing, a man named Alvin "Tex" Johnson, managed to pull off two barrel rolls in a prototype Boeing 707 jumbo jet travelling 490 mph, in front of a crowd of 250,000 people. He did it without informing the president of Boeing, who found out when he watched it on television, and without telling his co-pilot or onboard engineer until they were already in the air. A few seconds of video footage has survived. [3]

And just for a bit of fun, go to the Google homepage on your web browser and search for "do a barrel roll". :) [4]

 

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