Rolling Circles - page 1

Amazingly, there are 80 variations of the Rolling Circle ... Luckily for us they are all basically similar, and they all follow the same set of rules and judging criteria. The fundamental building blocks are:

  • There are four different amounts of turn - 90°, 180°, 270° and 360°.
  • The rolls can be "inwards" where the inner wing goes downwards at the start, or "outwards" where the inner wing goes upwards at the start. Some rolling turns combine both inwards and outwards rolls.
  • The figure is commenced from erect or inverted flight, on either the "A" or "B" axis. The exit can be either erect or inverted depending on the specific figure, and must be aligned with a major axis.
  • In "still" air each roll segment will cover 90°, 120°, 180 or 360° of the circle. However, these compass points are NEVER used whilst judging the figure, only the CGT and continuous rolling attitude of the aeroplane.


  • Level entry, on heading.
  • Brisk start to first roll.


  • CGT should be horizontal, with constant altitude.
  • The rate of change of direction throughout the turn should be constant.
  • The rate of roll must be constant - if you see a flick-roll then give a Perception Zero.
  • The required rolls should be completed exactly at the exit point.


  • Stop on heading and without any remaining bank angle or yaw.


  • For every clear variation in the rate of roll or the rate of turn give a downgrade of half to one point.
  • Each stoppage in the rate of roll or the turn must receive a downgrade of one to two points.
  • For climbing or diving errors the deduction is 1 point for each 5° or 100ft of altitude departure from level.
  • At the start and end points the usual 1 point per 5° downgrade applies to CGT errors in the axis or direction of flight and to mistakes in presentation of the correct wings-level attitude.
  • Even integration of the rolls may be expected at the end of each roll segment, but this is only a guide as to how well the pilot is co-ordinating the rolls and turn. Do not cumulate errors at the compass points, just concentrate on the start and end points and the regularity and correctness of events throughout.
  • If the roll direction is wrong (inwards instead of outwards etc.) then give the figure a Hard Zero (HZ).
  • If the number of rolls is wrong - too many or too few - then give the figure a Hard Zero (HZ).
  • If a flick-roll is seen at any stage (they should all be slow rolls!) then give the figure a Perception Zero (PZ).

What is not judged

  • The shape of the turn, this is not a wind corrected figure.
  • The size of the turn.

Practical Tips

  • Check that the heading is correct at the start of the turn.
  • Be careful of optical effects – the aeroplane will look as if it is climbing when it's coming towards you and descending when it is going away from you (CHECK!).
  • Think about the direction turned – it matters if the figure is onto the "A" axis.
  • Always take a moment to check that the required "inwards" (inner wing going down) or "outwards" inner wing going up) roll direction is in the right direction - if the roll goes the wrong way, it's a HZ.
  • Look for 'crabbing' at the end of the turn, ie. sliding sideways with off-angle CGT although the ZLA remains correct. The aeroplane should be 'square' to the box and flying directly along the correct axis. For pilots this is very difficult, but … you are the judge!