In my opinion, a good routine:
- Is Efficient: No time wasted, no long gaps in between the action. The pros use creative re-positions that are fast, returning to show centre for the next pass quickly. Rarely does an Extra-300 routine exceed the 2 mile mark. Rarely does a military demo team exceed the 5 mile mark. Being time efficient also means getting into the air quickly - don't waste time needlessly with long taxi intros and opening speeches if it can be avoided. Keep your audience entertained, don't keep them waiting in suspense!
- Is Choreographed: Your backing music should suit the theme you are trying to convey. Perhaps this song isn't the best song to go with a 747 flyover. Likewise, I wouldn't use this song for a high powered military demonstration. There are of course exceptions - when it suits the story you are telling. Choose your music very carefully: Is the tempo right or a bit rushed? is the duration too long or too short? Is the genre too rough or too gentle? Think about the emotion your track invokes and think about what that says about how your routine should be flown. Graceful music? gentle movements. Fast music? sudden, precise movements. Like a well chosen word, your movements and also lack of movements are the punctuation and grammar of great aerobatic sentences. Choose what you do wisely: Make sure your music and routine work together.
- Is Safe: Doesn't put the virtual crowd in danger, and doesn't put the pilot in danger. Safe altitudes and attitudes of recovery are a must. Practice up high with a hard deck and gradually reduce altitude towards your target height. Nobody is impressed with a virtual pilot pulling 20g at 2000 knots in a virtual game. Your audience came to see your talent. Instead show your precision to holding an altitude, being on time with your manuevers and repositions.
- Appeals to Emotion: Goes hand in hand with choreography. You want your audience to have fun. So keep them entertained with either a stunning performance, or a funny performance. Some of the best routines have been gag routines: Russian Vodka VTOL, Hypnowokka, Ze Zoidfeesh all come to mind. Just have an objective emotion in mind, and build your routine to meet that goal.
- Know your aircraft: For you to push your aircraft to the limit, you need to know where the limit is. And the only way to find it is to practice. Fly your chosen aircraft on a server with others - just because it's fun. I'm sure most server owners won't mind installing your pack if you make a quick and easy "drag and drop zip" pack. Once you know what you can do, you can start to build a routine.
- Be Self-Critical: The REAL real life pros take the slightest error very seriously. So seriously, a former captain of the USN Blue Angels stepped down from lead after 2 incidents where he failed to negotiate a manoeuvre for his wingmen. The error margin was only a few hundred feet. The best way to improve quickly is to review your replays after performance - what was wrong? Was the altitude on entry, hit, exit right? What about the precision of rolls? timing? For what went right, identify why it went right. For what went wrong, identify why it went wrong. Was your setup for the manoeuvre incorrect?
- Admit when you are wrong: SMOKE OFF. When you have messed up a formation manoeuvre, turn off your smoke. No need to make your error permanent in the sky. When you have rejoined the formation safely, only then do you turn your smoke on.
- Rehearse Often: To perform reliably, you need to put in the hard yards and practice. When you have practiced, you are far less likely to be taken by surprise in the routine, and your are much less likely to make mistakes.
- Construct your pass segments from the basics: Know what an immelman is, a split-s, minimum radius turn etc. Then start to string manoeuvres into each other, like building a sentence: ...do an aileron roll to 270 degrees, then a minimum radius turn, followed by an immediate half cuban, then continue pulling to exit vertically... It's a bit of a mouthful, but if you can understand that I've combined multiple difference manoeuvres into one segment in the show box, you've got the message.