At home in the sky

Display flying

At home in the sky

Jacob Hollander has been associated with the world of flying from an age when most of us would probably be glued to our cartoons or comic books.

The second generation in the family on the air show arena, Jacob started following his father to air shows at the age of six. He started flying gliders when he was 14 and four years after that, started doing air shows himself.

Today, he is the owner of a professional air show team ‘Scandinavian Airshow’ as well as an airline commander and instructor for a major Scandinavian Airline. Jacob, who grew up in Balsta, outside Stockholm, Sweden, spoke to Rajitha Menon about life as a air show pilot and the pros and cons of aerobatic flying.
Could you tell us a bit about your team.

It was a natural extension of my interest in flying. The team ‘Scandinavian Airshow’ started doing international shows in 2008. From then, we have been doing shows in countries all across the world as well as shows in Europe. We do wing walking and formation display and so on. I am also a commercial pilot and the Commander of a Boeing 738.
What does aerobatics entail?

On a personal front, it means travelling the world with two containers and airplanes. Professioanlly, what all you do depends on your plane; you can do different aerobatics with different aircraft.

 The one I flew today, the ‘Viking’, which is my main display aircraft, is made for aero shows and displays. It’s very powerful so you can do maneouvers which you can’t perform with a normal aerobatic plane.  The wing walking aerobatic is easier because you have the girls on the wings.

Overall, you try to make your maneouvers as perfect as possible. One should stick to routine but also try and be as creative as possible.
What are the differences or similarities between commercial and aerobatic flying?

If you compare aerobatic flying with commercial flying, it is very different in terms of flying but the thinking process and the concerns remain the same. We always think about how to be as safe as possible and that concerns all types of flying.
How does being a display pilot feel?

You have to start with learning some very simple things, like a loop or a roll. These themselves take many years as you have to train for the procedure and also  understand the difficulties and what can go wrong. It takes a long time to develop your experience but you also develop as a pilot. When I tried my hand at it for the first time, I felt it was fun, creative yet very demanding.
Have you faced any problem mid-air?

No problem as such but sometimes you make mistakes. And it is very important to make mistakes but we try to make them at a higher altitude. Like when you try new maneouvers, do it at higher altitudes. You are allowed to make mistakes because no one can see it and you learn from that. So when you try it at a lower altitude, you know what the limitations are - both for the aircraft and for yourself.
Who can become an aerobatic pilot?

All pilots can learn some or the other type of aerobatic flying. You have different types of aerobatics. In ‘Viking’, we try the hoard aerobatics. Others have soft variations. But everbody can learn something.
Is your family scared about this job?

I don’t know, I don’t think so. We don’t talk about it like
that but it’s a part of life for me.
Do you get time to spend with family?

Mostly yes I do. My wife is here with me in India now but we also do get time to spend with each other back home. But there are ups and downs in this sort of life. Sometimes, I have to go away for long periods of time. But it works ok.
If not an aerobatic pilot, then?

Oh I don’t know (laughs). Maybe I would be doing something in the media, maybe I would be making movies.
Your thoughts about India?

It is very nice here. We feel everything is very organised, especially this event. We got the hangar for ourselves, good transport, nice hotels. All this is very important because we are working very hard when we are here. That’s why we like to come here a lot.

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