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I've just started aerobatics training! Unfortunately, my middle ear really messes with me, particularly during loops. Strangely, aileron rolls give me no trouble at all.

I know from other experienced aerobatic pilots that you can get used to aerobatic flying, and my tolerance will build up over time.

However, is there anything I can do on the ground in order to help build up my tolerance more quickly?

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As you've mentioned, your tolerance will build up over time so a simple, partial answer is to be patient and fly in small doses. Two 20 minute flights with a break between is much much better than a single hour long flight. You'll learn more, stay focused, and acclimate faster.

Try not to move your head much during maneuvers.

For a loop, I typically look at my left wing tip until I'm about 3/8's through the loop, then I transition to looking "up" to catch the horizon as I approach the top of the loop. Any more movement than that might be a problem.

Bill Thomas's classic book Fly For Fun describes where to look for many of the basic maneuvers.

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  • $\begingroup$ It's cool there are people who know this sort of thing :) $\endgroup$ – Fattie Feb 2 '17 at 1:07
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The way the Air Force introduces people to the disorienting effects of aerobatics on the ground is to put them into smoothly spinning chairs called Barany Chairs. And it doesn't just involve spinning in one direction, but smoothly and gently changing directions repeatedly. Since I never suffered from airsickness, I don't know what they do (i.e. do they blindfold you, are there more than one axis of motion, do you have to tilt and move your head, etc.)

While an actual Barany Chair may be expensive, you could perhaps accomplish the same with a friend and a nice heavy office chair.

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    $\begingroup$ the mythbusters once made a seasickness (or general motion sickness chair) that rotated steadily and the subject had to tilt his head back and forth and side to side. $\endgroup$ – ratchet freak Sep 6 '14 at 20:27
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    $\begingroup$ I'll give this a try and report back with my results! $\endgroup$ – Steve V. Sep 7 '14 at 7:13
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    $\begingroup$ Given that I'm sitting on an office chair at the moment, I have a temptation to spin myself right now $\endgroup$ – kevin Sep 7 '14 at 13:49
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    $\begingroup$ The Mythbusters chair is a good starting point - it won't get you inverted, but much like a Bárány chair it can be used to habituate your body to some of the sensations you'll experience. Beyond that it's just a matter of flight time (and it's best if you stop before you get sick). $\endgroup$ – voretaq7 Sep 7 '14 at 19:12
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I used to feel strong motion sickness when flying aerobatics. I got to the point I could burn off the acro tanks in an Extra 300 without getting sick. I did 3 things:

1) Repeatedly spinning in an office chair until I felt dizzy then getting up and walking.

2) Flying as much as I could, and when I did, I would fly until I felt sick, then fly straight and level until I felt a bit better, then would do an avalanche maneuver (snap-roll at the top of a loop), then would fly straight and level again... and do it again, gradually pushing myself.

3) If you're in a car and not driving, try reading until you start feeling sick.

Somehow I never threw up flying aerobatics, but I did come really close a number of times.

I tried to relax, control my breathing, bring a little water with me, and always push myself a bit. And somehow that worked for me. Also if you do some aggressive maneuvers like lomcováks, long tail slides, push humpty-bumps, and accelerated spins, most other maneuvers will seem much more tame and you'll be able to relax and enjoy them.

Good luck and have fun!

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