When aerobatic competition first began there was no universal standard for describing an aerobatic sequence. Pilots used either their own shorthand notation, or simply described what they planned to fly using words. This was, of course, problematic for both pilots and judges, especially as the sport spread across the globe and language differences added further barriers to communication.
Notational systems for aerobatic maneuvers were first used in the 1920s. Then, in 1961, Spanish aviator Colonel José Luis Aresti published a catalog of aerobatic maneuvers, the Sistema Aerocryptographica Aresti. After its initial use throughout Spain, the Aerobatics Commission (CIVA) of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), elected to use the catalog at the World Aerobatic Championships held in Bilbao, Spain in 1964. Those symbolic notations for aerobatic figures have been used for drawing aerobatic sequences ever since.
These pages provide a tutorial on how to read and understand the symbology contained within the Aresti Aerobatic Catalogue (Condensed). Further pages will show how to use the Aresti symbology from the Catalogue to create real-world drawings that an aerobatic pilot anywhere in the world will understand. Please keep in mind that this is a top-level tutorial. After working the complete tutorial you will be able to read and understand any aerobatic sequence. However, to be fully competent to design legal aerobatic sequences, you should plan on attending an IAC-sponsored “Introduction to Aerobatic Judging” class. Contrary to the course title, this class is not just for future judges, but is for anyone interested in understanding Aresti and aerobatic competition, either as a participant (pilot or judge) or simply as an interested observer. You can find a listing of class locations and dates here.
You will receive maximum benefit from this tutorial if you have the current Aresti Aerobatic Catalogue (Condensed) available to consult. The Catalogue can only be purchased directly from Aresti System on their site located at http://www.arestisystem.com/ . There are catalog versions for power, glider and RC model aerobatics. Each has a slightly different set of figures appropriate to the category, but the notation and Catalogue organization is identical in all three versions.
Brian Howard is the IAC Rules Chairman, a Judges' School Instructor, and a member of the CIVA Catalogue Sub-Committee