UAE: Thrilling new flight launched in RAK; see desert, sea, mountains at 400kmph speeds

Aerobatics flight manoeuvres include loops and rolls and vertical climbs of up to 3,000 feet; prices, duration – all you need to know

by

Sahim Salim

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Photos: Supplied
Photos: Supplied

Published: Wed 24 Jan 2024, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Wed 24 Jan 2024, 11:24 PM

Speeds of up to 400kmph; real face-pulling G-forces as you roll and climb; 360-degree panoramic views of the stunning coastline, desert and mountains: Ras Al Khaimah has launched the UAE’s first commercial aerobatic flight experience.

Wayne Jack, director of Flight Operations and chief executive officer/founder of ActionFlight, told Khaleej Times that the aviation adventure tourism company has operated a couple of dozen commercial aerobatic flights since obtaining the regulatory approval a few weeks ago.

Taking off from the RAK International Airport, flights soar at an altitude of 2,000-6,000 feet, zooming past the coastline between Marjan Island, Cove Rotana and Al Rams depending on Air Traffic Control instructions.

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Manoeuvres include loops and rolls, hammer heads, avalanche, inverted flights and vertical climbs of up to 3,000 feet.

“Our passenger flights are … a G-force experience. They are an intermediate level aerobatic flight and include … hammerhead stall turns, whereby we fly straight up vertical until gravity takes over. Then we basically point back down at the ground and then recover to level flight,” he explained.

Climb rates reach speeds of up to 400kmph, with G-forces of between +4 (four times the force of gravity) and -2 (sensation of weightlessness).

The company operates two EXTRA 330 aircraft — the same type that started the Red Bull Air race championship. Often described as ‘the Ferrari of the skies’, the aircraft are specifically designed for advanced competition aerobatics. They have certified load factor limitations of plus and minus 10G.

“While this can be a very exciting and full-on adrenaline rush activity, we don't want people to feel petrified. The idea is to give people a taste of what this aircraft is capable of, G-force and the aerobatic world," said Jack.

The pilot will communicate with the passengers throughout the flight to tune the experience to their comfort levels.

Prices, duration

Aerobatic flights cost Dh2,399 and last about 20 minutes. The total experience from pick-up to drive to the airport, flight briefing and flight suit fitting takes about three hours.

The adventure starts with a full briefing by the pilot before the flight. Passengers are then fitted with a flight suit and headset/helmet before they are boarded.

Operated during daylight hours, the first flights take off at 7am, with the last departure at 5pm.

Handling the thrills

The flight experience is designed to give passengers a thrilling ride without frightening them. “If someone wants to have a gentle ride, or purely a scenic one, that is also an option. But if they want to go hard out, that’s not going to happen.”

This is because higher G-forces can be difficult for people to handle. “We don't want to put people in a situation that they won’t enjoy."

“Most of the manoeuvres are positive G, not negative. An example of a negative G is flying inverted and this force is more uncomfortable for a person that's not accustomed to it. Positive G is reasonably easy to handle."

Meet the pilots

Jack and Pete Lindsay are the pilots currently. “We're both former Emirates Boeing 777 pilots. Prior to our careers in the airlines, Pete was an air force jet pilot. I was a civilian commercial pilot flying many different types of aircraft.”

Among Jack’s many roles in the past was that of a ski plane pilot, landing tourists on New Zealand’s Southern Alps Glaciers. The aerobatic pilot has enjoyed a Red Bull brand partnership for 11 years.

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