A guest post by Wayne from the Vander Space Wheel team, who are performing at the Airshow, National Museum of Flight, East Fortune on Sat 23 July 2011

The Vander Space Wheel aerial stunt team are performing for the first time at the Airshow at the National Museum of Flight, East Fortune as part of the On the Ground activities. 

Preparation is vital when it comes to the Vander Space Wheel.  Because of the risk factor, we have to make absolutely sure that the Wheel is rigged 100%.

Double Vander Space Wheel during a show.

For setting up we need to find a suitable, level grassed area for the base-plate, and then secure it to the ground by  knocking eight steel stakes into it, and then attach the two poles which will hold the Wheel upright. The base-plate is the backbone of the Wheel. The four pulling points are then secured into the ground using one metre long steel stakes and 1.5 tonne tirfor winches are used to hoist the Wheel vertically. We then put the five parts of the Wheel together using nuts, bolts and turn buckles. The length of the whole Wheel is eleven metres.

Next the two A-frames are put in place and the winch cable secured to the axle. By winching together we then proceed to lift the Wheel until it is vertical. Once that has been achieved, we insert two steel pins securing the poles in place. Finally we make sure that the Wheel is lined-up 100% between the two poles. We are now ready for our first show. The entire set-up process lasts approximately two hours, depending on how hard the ground is.

We warm up for the show at least ten minutes before.  Should the wind be very strong, we have to adjust the performance according to the strength of the wind. That is normally done just before we go on. Sometimes we alter the routine whilst performing but very rarely as this may cause confusion which could easily lead to an accident. We are unable to perform while it is raining, and need to come off the Wheel immediately. The Wheel is made from stainless steel tubing and when it rains it becomes extremely slippery when wet. Sticking to the routine is vital for our safety.

On top of the Vander Space Wheel during a performance

On top of the Vander Space Wheel during a performance.

Travelling one-day shows are the hardest as we need to arrive and set-up, perform the two or or three shows as agreeed, then pull-down, pack-away and drive to the next show, which could be anywhere. The two and three day shows give us more time as we can stay put for a few days. It is a very short season, from May until mid-September. In that period we do as many shows as we can until the following season.