Lines & Angles (12)
Lines & Angles is the World Aerobatic Championship 2013 journal by Mike Heuer.
First of all, my apologies for delay in writing another Lines & Angles. I enjoy doing it but it seems Jury duty here has been very time consuming and hectic – sort of like flying. Hours of boredom sometimes followed my moments of intense activity.
The time has arrived. WAC begins this week and I depart tomorrow for Sherman, Texas and the 27th FAI World Aerobatic Championships. It’s an exciting time. I will make the trip by car and it is a familiar route – I just returned from the US National Aerobatic Championships at KGYI on the 28th of September.
The list of participants and visitors to the 27th FAI World Aerobatic Championships this year reads like a “Who’s Who in Aerobatics”. Not only do we have the finest aerobatic pilots on the planet flying in the aerobatic box over North Texas Regional Airport but we have a host of other people involved who have wonderful records of achievement in aerobatics and air sports.
With it being only 22 days from the opening ceremonies at WAC, it seems time is really accelerating and the workload increasing on all the people involved in the organization. I am also happy to report competitors are already here in the USA and are preparing and practicing for WAC well in advance of the start of the competition.
The US National Aerobatic Championships starts at the North Texas Regional Airport (KGYI) in just a few days and it also appears some of the WAC competitors will be joining us in at Nationals as well – to get “box time” and some judging.
A short postscript to the columns I wrote earlier about the people …
I mentioned in one of my previous articles that every year, a small group of people come together to help run, organize, administer, and judge FAI Aerobatic Championships – often at airfields far away from urban centers.
Well, it turns out there is more to the story this year. As I reviewed the list of people who volunteered their time at the European Advanced Aerobatic Championships in Radom, Poland earlier this month, I was struck by the number who will also be attending the WAC in Texas, though sometimes in different roles.
We are less than eight weeks away from the start of the 27th FAI World Aerobatic Championships and the pace of work is picking up. It now appears we may have as many as 65 pilots representing 17 nations competing in Texas and this is terrific news.
Last week, I submitted an article to Reggie Paulk for Sport Aerobatics magazine which mentioned that Unlimited category seemed to be under threat with shrinking numbers of pilots. This year’s WAC is thwarting that trend. At the 2011 WAC in Italy, for example, just 51 pilots competed.
One of the people I admire most in life, EAA Founder Paul Poberezny, used to say, “I’ve learned more about people than I ever did about airplanes”. Those lessons were learned during his many years as the leader of this hugely successful aviation organization and as a true visionary. I have also found Paul’s words to be so true.
Though most of the time we spend in conversation in aerobatic circles tends to center around rules, flying, airplanes, practice, judging, and running contests, after you have been around the sport for a while, you tend to focus more on the people. Over the years, you develop many good friendships and when coming together, you talk about subjects other than aerobatics – though the passion for the sport runs deep in everyone I’ve worked with these past few decades. Aerobatics is our common bond – and always will be. To have friends around the world who love our sport as much as we do is a real privilege.
Those of us who have served as contest officials at FAI Championships often comment about how remarkable it is that we can come together every year or two – usually at remote airports in the middle of nowhere – and work to make another contest a success and to help the local organizers. It is often the same faces we see at these events, year after year, and then find ourselves on the way home, exhausted and worn out, yet proud of what the group has done. This year at WAC it will be no different.
Even More on the Pilots
An important deadline passed a couple of days ago and gives us a clearer picture on how WAC is shaping up.
June 30th was the deadline for submission of “normal” entry fees for the WAC. Lorrie Penner and Lynn Bowes report that over 60 pilots have paid their entry fees. The final number is not settled yet as some bank transfers are in progress. But suffice to say that this is wonderful news for the organizers of the competition, who are working hard to ensure a first-class WAC, and the sport itself, which has suffered ups and downs in the Unlimited category.
In 2005, there were 48 competitors in the WAC held in Burgos, Spain. It jumped slightly to 50 in 2007 in Grenada, Spain and again when it went up to 58 in 2009 in Silverstone, Great Britain. We suffered a setback in 2011 at the WAC in Foligno, Italy with 47 pilots and the turnout for the EAC last year, which is where the bulk of the Unlimited group compete in the years between WAC’s, was disappointing at just over 30 pilots. The American organizers of WAC 2013 hoped for 50 competitors and now that has been exceeded, helping make the event not only financially viable but much more meaningful when such a large number of countries have registered and paid to fly. Upwards of 17 countries are expected.
The Pilots – Continued
It has been a few weeks since I last wrote a “Lines & Angles” column, but it sure doesn’t mean there has been a lack of activity. In these past weeks, our organization’s staff has heard from more pilots, entry fees have continued to roll in, and all of the volunteers are working hard in their respective areas of responsibility. I have been very impressed with how much work has been accomplished at this point in time though the competition remains several months away. It must be said that it is never too early to get the pins in a row. It is amazing how quickly the time is flying by.
I have heard from several of the competitors and in my last column, I reported on some of the teams which we expect in Texas. In April, Grant Piper, President of the Australian Aerobatic Club, wrote and reported that they do plan to send a team of five male pilots. These pilots will be Richard Wiltshire, Paul Andronicou (both flew at the WAC in Italy in 2011), Paul Bennett, Rob Noonan, and Grant Piper. This is terrific news – and great to see so many of our Australian friends coming to Texas. Richard Wiltshire and Paul Bennett have confirmed aircraft – and will fly an MXS and Edge, respectively, thanks to the help of US Team pilots. The other fellows were still looking for aircraft at the time Grant wrote his email.
Just a couple of weeks ago, one of the important deadlines for WAC came and went – the date for the submission of early, discounted entry fees for the Championships. While organizers do ask for and receive “preliminary” entry forms from FAI member organizations and teams, it is important to note that the “rubber meets the road” when actual fees are received. This indicates a firm commitment on the part of that country to participate in the WAC.
As reported in “Contest News” on this website, that deadline for early payment was March 30th. As of today, WAC 2013 has received entry fees from Germany, Brazil, Switzerland, Canada, Russia, France, Australia, USA, Great Britain, Austria, Japan, South Africa, Belgium, and three “Hors Concours” (H/C) pilots. This is great news. Preliminary entry forms received indicated over 60 pilots but I believe that will reduce somewhat as the entry fees are finalized. Nevertheless, this is an outstanding response from FAI member organizations.
Typically, organizers offer discounted fees if sent in early. The next deadline for “regular” entries is the 30th of June with “late” entries accepted up to the 31st of August. On each of the dates, the fee increases by several hundred dollars.
News about the WAC
Welcome to the website and my blog, “Lines & Angles”. I wrote a column for many years with this title and I thought it appropriate to revive it for the upcoming 27th FAI World Aerobatic Championships in Texas. I will be writing about international aerobatics, competitors, aircraft, rules, and contest developments in the months ahead. I will also write during the course of the WAC so you can keep up-to-date with what’s going on at the contest site, whether you are present or not.
At WAC 2009 in Silverstone, Great Britain, I wrote an extensive blog and again at the European Aerobatic Championships in the Czech Republic in 2010. It was fun to do and well received. I am acting now as a consultant and advisor to the WAC 2013 organization regarding FAI and CIVA matters and with many of the details that go into putting together a successful Championships. The people I have been working with are incredibly dedicated, spending an enormous amount of volunteer time, and are doing everything they can to put together a superb competition.