What is Freestyle vs Acro?

I googled and I can't seem to find an answer to this. What is the difference between freestyle and acro? I see wings advertised as one or the other but I don't quite understand where freestyle ends and acro begins.

Can you put it into words?

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steven.vuylsteke's picture

I would agree with jabaker. ( infinity or not to infinity )
when I use to help Xandi out as his take off manager, damn those good days :D , I've seen many motivated pilots come to a second, third SIV training with their new toy - a full on acro wing. I was never fond of this approach, so my first question would be straight out : So you plan to fly infinit this year ? I would be getting a strange look back and a no for answer. So I would then inform them, cause to some people if they are not shocked first, they don't listen. Acro wings are great, they do acro tricks like they should, but when it goes wrong, it goes acro style wrong. 'and are you ready for that?'
They are faster and designed to make that extra shoot under you to pass to infinity. So if you haven't got your clean exits from any sort of full stall under control, take it easy and practice a few ( hundreds ) more on the wing you have ( EN- ? or freestyle ) and than make the step to your all out acro performer. You'll be getting an even bigger smile the moment you make your first flights, cause due to that extra training, you will already be a better skilled pilot the moment you get on your formula 1 machine.
don't forget we fly to have fun, not to swap undies on landing because we wanted to fly with 'the big boys'
also keep in mind, those now called legends, they didn't have great acro wings which did the tricks, they spend years making what is now for everybody available, while mc twisting oversized gliders, tumbling next to huge wing tips etc :D
Writing this I miss the time along motivated, willing to learn new acro pilots, just like me and all of us once were.

WoodysGamertag's picture

Thanks for the great replies. In my head freestyle was just kind of "pre-acro". Sort of a walk before you can run thing. Cleaningthedream makes freestyle seem more like art an acro as more of a sport. That's an interesting way to think about it.

cleaningthedream - You have me curious. Can you compare the xstyle and e-gravity? They were both on my list before I chose the xenus. It's pretty tough to find information about any of the new "starter acro/freestyle" wings.

jabaker's picture

Freestyle gliders can't do the infinite. Acro gliders can. That's it :-).

cleaningthedream's picture

To me, when the trick/flow comes from your soul and is measured by how "beautiful" it is, then you have a Free-style(r). When it comes from your rational mind and is measured by how many "points" it deserves, then you have an Acro-style(r). And you could have the both at same time, as Francois, Tim and many, many others acro pilots - specially the old school ones - have showed to us. As acromarmot said, you can recognize when an acro trick has a freestyle signature and, to me, this signature is all about the Heart. So, I think it is more about how the trick was born and how it is valued, than for an objective criteria.
When us try to classify a wing by Freestyle or Acro glider, I it is a little more tricky. I think It is fair to classify a wing in En-A,B,C,D class. After all, it has objective criteria for that. Freestyle (most of it) and Acro gliders are just test loaded and, maybe, a heavy loaded tiny freestyle wing is more aggressive than a light loaded acro wing... Or, maybe, you could glide more in an Acro 22m than in a Freestyle 20. But, at the same time, and it is very clean to see this in newer freestyle wings like xtyle or e-gravity, they are not the same... Definitely.
So, I know your topic is not about this but, if the pilot have patience (as the wise ones, who walk with "no pause and no hurry"), go first for a big size freestyle wing. it will be safer. You will be able to do "most of the tricks" in that, and even tumbles (or assym sats). For infinity, go a little small.
Nice topic. Maybe some dealers could help us with some manufactures/objective infos.

jackpimblett's picture

Hey Matt,

In my opinion freestyle is more along the lines of: helicopters, SATS, wingovers and some other moves. A freestyle glider I would say allows you to perform tricks that you could imagine doing on your everyday ENB glider yet it has some small tweaks to suit. You couldn't imagine doing infinity tumbling with your freestyle glider yet almost every ENB will do a nice helicopter, dynamic full stall, SAT etc. I hope this helps!

Laroth's picture

yes good movie, you can find it on youtube as complete video

ontopic: there is no strikt definition, its like sportscars<>racecars there are some that can be used as both
personally i draw the line if you can fly infinity with it or not ;-), even if there are some exceptions (Freestyle 3 with high wingload)


dalechamberlain's picture

What's the movie "Something between" is it good

acromarmot's picture


that's a good one. Ever tried an IT forum by throwing in "windows or linux" ? ;-)

I'm not sure if there's really a definition. One thing is the marketing part, why are gliders categorized like that etc. The other question is if that really makes sense and if we need that ...

When gliders are labeled "Freestyle Wing" it usually means "less agressive than an actual acro wing" [because it sounds more neat?!], "better glide than an acro wing" and "enough dynamics to perform almost all the manoeuvres". Often they have a certification as well. If we believe marketing it's a wing to fly acro, fly XC and all this with easy and simple handling. Some of them are advertised "does all tricks but infinite, rhytmic".
The thing is: do you believe that? For some manoeuvres you need lots of speed, others require a special wing design to allow for transitions. Which rises the question if a glider like that really is capable of all the other things?
If you want to have it more positive, it's about finding a compromise between fun, handling, speed and dynamics and yet reasonable glide and safety.
But keep in mind that the label "freestyle wing" not necessarily is safer, easier to fly etc. It depends on many things including but not limited to wingload, aspect ratio,wing shape. So there're definitely freestyle gliders which demand the same pilot skills as an acro wing (again also depending of the size) or even more.

At least in my opinion the wording is misleading anyways. For me freestyle flying is somehow beyond acro. In my mind freestyle flying would be the perfect flow, mixing acro manoeuvres and wagga and playing with whatever you have. Can be a 10m dune or 1000m above water. For me freestyle in a more old-fashioned way would be what guys like Mathias Rothen tried to achieve. Or the fellas who shot the "Something between" movie...Or...Or...Or in a more modern way freestyle to me is also what Francois and Theo and all the others do today by combining different manoeuvers literally "on the fly" an expressing a unique style which you can recognize if you watch them.
There're lot of imaginations in my head, that's because I'm struggling to learn "basic" manoeuvers and have a hard time to believe I will someday reach that point ;-)

Just my opinion, maybe it serves as a discussion starter ;-)