Difference Wiki

Barrel Rolls vs. Aileron Rolls: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on February 21, 2024
A barrel roll is an aerobatic maneuver where a plane makes a spiral motion, combining a roll and a loop, while an aileron roll is a faster roll around the aircraft's longitudinal axis without looping motion.

Key Differences

Barrel rolls involve a combination of rolling and slight pitching motion, resembling the movement around the inside of a barrel. The aircraft follows a helical path, appearing to be flying in a large barrel. In contrast, aileron rolls are executed by using the ailerons to roll the plane around its longitudinal axis, resulting in a more straightforward and faster rotation without the combined loop motion.
In a barrel roll, the pilot combines a roll with a slight pitch, making the aircraft follow a path similar to a corkscrew. It's a more complex maneuver requiring skill to maintain a constant altitude and speed. Aileron rolls, on the other hand, are performed by simply tilting the ailerons to roll the aircraft around its axis, requiring less pitch manipulation and generally considered easier to perform.
Barrel rolls are characterized by a smoother, more graceful motion, providing a gentler experience for the pilot and passengers. This maneuver is often used in aerobatic shows for its visually appealing trajectory. Aileron rolls are more about agility and speed, offering a quicker, more dynamic roll, and are often used in tactical situations or aerobatic competitions for their rapid execution.
During a barrel roll, the aircraft maintains positive G-forces throughout the maneuver, making it a non-aggressive and smoother motion. It requires coordination of ailerons, elevator, and rudder to execute correctly. In contrast, aileron rolls involve a rapid roll with little to no change in the aircraft's altitude or direction, mainly involving the ailerons, hence the name.
The barrel roll is often used for training purposes in flight schools due to its complexity and the range of control inputs required. It helps pilots develop a sense of three-dimensional spatial orientation. Aileron rolls, being simpler and more straightforward, are often one of the first aerobatic maneuvers that pilots learn, focusing primarily on the roll aspect of flight.

Comparison Chart

Maneuver Type

Combination of roll and loop
Pure roll around longitudinal axis


More complex, requiring multiple control inputs
Simpler, primarily involves ailerons


Helical or corkscrew path
Straightforward roll without looping

Pilot Skill Level

Requires advanced skill and coordination
Easier to perform, suitable for beginners


Aerobatic shows, training
Tactical situations, aerobatics

Barrel Rolls and Aileron Rolls Definitions

Barrel Rolls

An aerobatic maneuver combining a roll with a slight pitch.
The pilot executed a perfect barrel roll, impressing the audience.

Aileron Rolls

A basic aerobatic skill involving a rotation around the plane's axis.
The novice pilot practiced aileron rolls as part of his aerobatic training.

Barrel Rolls

A complex flight maneuver involving coordinated use of ailerons, elevators, and rudder.
During training, the pilot practiced barrel rolls to improve her spatial awareness.

Aileron Rolls

A rapid aerobatic roll around the aircraft's longitudinal axis.
The fighter performed an aileron roll to evade the opponent.

Barrel Rolls

Aircraft movement in a spiral path, resembling the inside of a barrel.
The fighter jet performed a series of barrel rolls in the airshow.

Aileron Rolls

Simple roll maneuver with minimal pitch and yaw changes.
The pilot performed an aileron roll to demonstrate the plane's agility.

Barrel Rolls

A maneuver maintaining positive G-forces, executed in a corkscrew-like pattern.
The pilot's barrel roll showcased his advanced flying skills.

Aileron Rolls

A straightforward roll maneuver using the ailerons.
The stunt pilot executed several quick aileron rolls in succession.

Barrel Rolls

Aerobatic move creating a helical flight path.
The vintage aircraft completed a smooth barrel roll, demonstrating its agility.

Aileron Rolls

An aerobatic move characterized by a fast, axial roll.
The crowd cheered as the jet completed a series of tight aileron rolls.


How is an aileron roll performed?

By tilting the ailerons to roll the aircraft around its longitudinal axis.

Can all aircraft perform barrel rolls?

No, it requires an aerobatic-capable aircraft and skilled piloting.

Is an aileron roll considered a basic maneuver?

Yes, it's one of the basic aerobatic skills pilots learn.

Are aileron rolls safe for passengers?

They can be, but are usually not performed in commercial or passenger flights.

Do barrel rolls require more fuel than aileron rolls?

They can, due to the longer and more complex maneuver path.

What is a barrel roll in aviation?

It's an aerobatic maneuver combining a roll with a loop, following a spiral path.

Are barrel rolls used in aerobatic competitions?

Yes, they are a popular choice for their visual appeal and complexity.

Are barrel rolls used in combat?

Rarely, as they are more showy than tactically advantageous.

Is it easier to learn barrel rolls or aileron rolls?

Aileron rolls are generally easier and are often taught first.

Can aileron rolls be performed at low altitudes?

It's possible but risky; higher altitudes provide more safety margin.

How long does it take to master aileron rolls?

It varies, but some pilots can learn the basics in just a few hours.

Can aileron rolls be done quickly?

Yes, they are known for their speed and agility.

Can barrel rolls disorient the pilot?

Yes, without proper training and spatial awareness, they can be disorienting.

Can aileron rolls be performed in any plane?

No, the plane must be capable of aerobatic maneuvers.

How do aileron rolls differ from other rolls?

They are faster and involve rolling around the aircraft's axis with minimal pitch or yaw.

Do barrel rolls require special training?

Yes, they require advanced aerobatic training.

Are barrel rolls dangerous?

They can be if not performed correctly or in unsuitable aircraft.

Are barrel rolls part of military pilot training?

They can be, especially in advanced fighter pilot training.

Are aileron rolls used in emergency maneuvers?

Rarely, as they are typically not effective in evasive situations.

Do barrel rolls put stress on the aircraft?

Yes, they can, especially on non-aerobatic aircraft.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

Trending Comparisons

Popular Comparisons

New Comparisons