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Tuesday, 18 March 2014 19:14

Claude Bessiere

Written by  Snap&Roll
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Claude BessiereClaude Bessiere, known as Coco in the world of aerobatics, was born in the middle of the 20th century in Angles, west part of France. He started flying aerobatics in 1976, and he competed for several years as a top-level athlete.

Coco won the world championship in the unlimited category in 1990 in Yverdon (Switzerland). He was an ENAC (École Nationale de l'Aviation Civile) ) instructor until 2012, and he has coached France’s Advanced and Unlimited team for more than two decades. Under his leadership, the Advanced and Unlimited team won several European and World Aerobatic Championships. For these reasons, he is considered one of the best aerobatic trainers in the world.

(It is widely known throughout the world that the excellence of the French method comes from a solid, high-level training regimen in partnership with air clubs that provides the basis to produce new aerobatic pilots, judges, and competent, successful trainers.)

He is now retired from coaching France’s Advanced and Unlimited team and is interested in coaching internationally. He is seeking new challenges and desires to help friends develop their aerobatic skills and fulfill their dreams of aerobatic competition.


Aerobatics technically means an intentional departure from straight-and-level flight to fly one maneuver or a sequence of premeditated maneuvers that require extremes of bank, pitch and acceleration.

Aerobatics indeed means freedom, but freedom must always have its basis in order, not in chaos. It requires a knowledge of the laws of physics, mechanics, aerodynamics, gravity, inertia and precession, but primarily, a knowledge of yourself.”


What does aerobatics mean to you?

Aerobatics competition means for me, perseverance, to never give up; but at the same time, to always be wary of what is unattainable. All is not available in the beginning, and being mesmerized by a goal can be extremely dangerous in this sport. We must never forget the principles of basic safety.

Being passionate about fulfilling your goal is among the most important things.

What do you like most and least about this sport?

Claude Bessier won the Aresti Cup in 1990

What I like most is seeing my team win and being able to jump up on the podium with them.

What I don't like is seeing the distress of a pilot team that missed a figure or a sequence after a lot of long and hard work.

 What made you decide to become an aerobatics coach?

When you succeed in becoming an absolute world champion, you are sentenced to lose at some point; so you have to find a new motivation.

My new motivation became trying to win again, but this time through the pilots of my team.

What do you like most and least about being coach?

I always like winning, especially with a group of friends; and like all competitors, I don’t like losing.

Is it possible to make a living as an aerobatic coach?

If you want to retire from aerobatics with a small fortune, it's possible…provided you start with a large fortune!

What qualities do you think a competitor should have?

For me, discipline, hard work, and systematic attention are all qualities that a competitor must have.

Does rivalry between pilots on the same team benefit or hurt the team?

Rivalry is always good if it is constructive.

What qualities should a pilot have to be world champion?

A world champion needs to train, trust, and gain self-confidence. But first and foremost, he must know himself.

I chose to live by Socrates’ motto, “Know Thyself,” when I began my aerobatics life.

Do you think that any pilot can be a world champion, or does he have to be born with that gift?

After 6 or 8 international championships, any pilot can become a world champion.

In my experience, it’s possible after 6 or 8 championships. After that, I can usually train a pilot 5 times per year; so after 30 or 40 training camps with me, I think it's correct to say he could become a champion. He might need some good luck as well, because when you are in the top 5, anybody can win.

Don't forget that up until last year, you could become world or European champion in each category. (It's about to change this year).

"Discipline, hard work, and systematic attention are all qualities that a competitor must have"

Would you say a coach has to also be a psychologist?

Yes, he has to be a psychologist to efficiently teach the sport in his own words, and to be able to provide solutions and mechanisms to help the pilot achieve his own aerobatic goals.

How would you describe your coaching style?

My coaching style is individual and varies according to the type of pilot I train. I adapt my training system according to the pilot’s style.

Does the best coach in the world make a champion or does a champion team make the best coach in the world?

There must be perfect cooperation between the two.

Coco Bessiere with the French Unlimited Team

during the last WAC 2013

 How do you form one of the best aerobatic teams in the world?

“Systematic intransigence” are the key words that should guide you through all the training you can provide. You must be uncompromising.

For me, the best way to raise the technical level and consistency of the pilots is to create a healthy emulation among them. It's good for their skill, and it gives me advantages in assessing their progress and confirming references. 

How has aerobatics changed since you got the World Championship in 1990?

There are new figures like N and the double humpty bump. But basically, rolls and positive and negative flick rolls haven’t changed much, except for faster roll rates.

 If you could chose a plane to compete in the unlimited at the highest level, which plane would you choose?

For me, any pilot can be a world champion with any plane. They are all valid and competitive.

What do you think the aerobatics sequences will be like in the future?

I think they will be practically the same, with no radical changes.

Who is the most innately talented pilot you’ve ever seen? And the most dedicated pilot (even if less talented)?

Of course, Renaud Ecalle and Renaud Ecalle.

What is the best technique to fly a perfect figure?

Of course, the best figure is the one that achieves the highest score from the judges.

The pilot must therefore be very accurate in observing the figure. He must be uncompromising and verify systematically the right positioning of each figure in the box.

What is the perfect 4-minute freestyle program like for you?

For me, it has to be full of surprises!

And a free known?

A perfect free known is the one that suits each pilot of your team.

What are your futures plans now that you are not in the French unlimited coach?

My future plans are not really defined yet but what I know is that I would like to find a new group of friends to have fun with and train them in aerobatics, while also creating an environment that supports their growth as pilots.


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"Aerobatics is the hidden rythm of our soul..."