2024 IAC Contests

Ed Haywood

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Big Ed
Gonna use this as a rolling thread, maybe suck in a few other current competitors.

Sebring was 3 weeks ago. Very well run contest, and better attended than last few years. At least as many young pilots as old ones, which is great to see.

Rome GA was scheduled this weekend but was just cancelled for weather. First time I have seen that in advance.

I hope to do at least 4 local chapter contests this year, plus nationals if I can get away for a week. Hopefully Rome gets rescheduled soon. Next closest contest in Warrenton VA in June.

Once upon a time NC used to have a contest at Rocky Mount. Too bad that seems to have died out.
 
What is an IAC competition like, outside of the flying? There are never events anywhere near me so I haven't been able to justify a long trip (nearest one this year looks like it's 500 nm away in Nebraska) just to satisfy my mild curiosity.
 
What is an IAC competition like, outside of the flying? There are never events anywhere near me so I haven't been able to justify a long trip (nearest one this year looks like it's 500 nm away in Nebraska) just to satisfy my mild curiosity.
Where are you located?

For competitors, it is 3 days of sitting on the ramp from 8am to 6pm, with most pilots volunteering to help run the contest when their category is not being flown. Usually there will be a contest hotel designated, so evenings tend to turn into a party. There will always be an awards banquet on the last night.

For spectators, it is much more relaxed. You can show up when you want, watch what you want, and then leave. There is no charge, and usually no access control, so anyone can wander up and hang out with the competitors and volunteers, see what is going on, ask questions, and stand behind the judges to watch the flights. There will typically be plenty of cool airplanes on the ramp, usually 20+ Extras and Pitts plus a few others, and nobody is too uptight about wandering around looking at them as long as you stay away from the active category.

The contest rotates through levels, with each category taking an hour or two, and probably a 30 minute reset between categories. A category typically has 8-10 pilots, with each pilot flying a 4 minute routine in the box, and a few minutes between each pilot. The higher level categories are obviously more fun because the pilots fly more complex sequences lower to the ground.

All flying is within the box, which looks like this:

Aerobatic Box Graphic Model 2012 - 33pct.gif
 
Thanks. I'm familiar with the box and sequence concepts, although I haven't flown a serious aerobatic maneuver in years (I did a 10-hour course in late 2017 and performed the basic elements during phase 1 testing of my RV-14 back in 2021) and have never tried to fly a sequence within a box. I've been curious about getting into it a little bit but the travel would kill me. But if it's worthwhile to be there and spectate, I might try to make the trip.

How busy is the flying schedule? Constantly a plane in the air for the day or long breaks between competitors and/or classes?
 
Typically each class will fly for 1 to 2 hours, depending on pilot count, with a plane in the air about 50% of the time. There will be a 30 to 60 minute break between classes. Overall pace depends on how well organized the volunteers are.

Are you still in ND? There are contests in June in Nebraska at KSWT and Iowa at KSPW.

The first few times you fly in the box, you feel rushed. Once you get the rhythm, it comes naturally. The biggest challenge is compensating for wind. Nobody pays much attention to upper or lateral boundaries in the lower classes. Just don't bust the floor.

If you want to try it out, the Primary sequence is not too difficult and a great way to start. Everyone is very welcoming and helpful to first time competitors.


sequence.PNG
 
Are you still in ND? There are contests in June in Nebraska at KSWT and Iowa at KSPW.
Yeah. KSWT is about 500 nm away. Long trip to watch airplanes but I've gone farther for less (1100 to watch a movie).

If you want to try it out, the Primary sequence is not too difficult and a great way to start. Everyone is very welcoming and helpful to first time competitors.
I think I printed out the Primary and Sportsman known sequences back in 2021 and based my phase 1 aerobatic work on having sufficient tested maneuvers to perform them, although not in a box and not in a sequence. I don't remember for sure. I should really just throw the parachute on and go do some fun flying one of these days.
 
I think I printed out the Primary and Sportsman known sequences back in 2021 and based my phase 1 aerobatic work on having sufficient tested maneuvers to perform them, although not in a box and not in a sequence. I don't remember for sure. I should really just throw the parachute on and go do some fun flying one of these days.

Boxes and sequences are not hard. You just vary the timing of the pause between each maneuver to keep yourself centered on the judging area. Choose a linear feature like a prominent road to align with, and pick a prominent object about a half mile off one side. Start with a few seconds between each maneuver, and increase or decrease as necessary to stay centered on the object. Seems rushed at first, but once you learn to be mindful of the wind, it is straight forward. Longer pauses into the wind, shorter pauses going away.

In between each maneuver, eyeball the airspeed and altimeter. If you get within a few hundred feet of the floor, wag out and restart.
 
I think I printed out the Primary and Sportsman known sequences back in 2021 and based my phase 1 aerobatic work on having sufficient tested maneuvers to perform them, although not in a box and not in a sequence. I don't remember for sure. I should really just throw the parachute on and go do some fun flying one of these days.

Fast forward to 59:30 and there is video of an RV-14 flying Sportsman in the Nationals last fall.

 
Fast forward to 59:30 and there is video of an RV-14 flying Sportsman in the Nationals last fall.

That's a very specific RV-14, in fact. Thanks for sharing the video. He must not be done editing his in-cockpit footage yet. :)
 
There used to be a local IAC contest near me. I didn’t compete but I did volunteer. Running score sheets from the judges (the judges were usually pilots not flying that category), acting as a recorder for judges, grabbing water bottles, whatever. I was a low time pilot back then and learned a lot about energy management from observing and talking with the competitors. And getting a good first hand lesson in how to handle an inflight emergency - remember rule 1A (no one ever collided with the sky), and come up with a plan then work the plan. It all worked out.

I really recommend volunteering if there’s an IAC comp nearby, and bring a handheld.

Edit: and remember to put sunscreen in your neck, under your chin. You’ll be looking up all day.
 
There is a contest at Salem, IL in 2 weeks. Thinking about making the 6 hour trip up there to compete. Fortunately the Decathlon is fairly comfortable as acro planes go. Anyone fly at KSLO?
 
Noooooooope.

Nauga,
the antisocial butterfly

I'm probably not going either. There has been zero communication on social media from the contest director. That makes me nervous. Publicity ensures enough turnout to staff all the volunteer efforts. I don't want to fly 6 hours to find 8 guys standing around.

Next one for me will be Warrenton, Virginia at the end of June. Adam Cope is the CD. He always runs a great contest, and is already making announcements. Should be good turnout.
 
Sebring was 3 weeks ago. Very well run contest, and better attended than last few years.


Wish I'd known about Sebring. I'm still planeless, but Sebring is only about an hour's drive from here and it would have been fun to watch and see some cool planes.

How'd you do?
 
Wish I'd known about Sebring. I'm still planeless, but Sebring is only about an hour's drive from here and it would have been fun to watch and see some cool planes.

How'd you do?

Not great, middle of the pack. Was my first contest in several years, and I had not practiced well. Also, there were a couple of presentation aspects of the known sequence that disadvantaged my aircraft, and which I did not understand until I flew it for judges.

Sebring is one of the longest running contests in the US. It has been run twice a year, spring and fall, for the last 40+ years. It is always very well run and very well attended, one of the flagship regional contests for IAC. 3 Florida chapters combine efforts to run it. Spring is typically April and fall is early November, though lately there has been movement to do the 2nd contest in early December. The restaurant on the field has very good breakfast. Pop in on a Saturday morning, eat, then mosey down the ramp to watch some flights and look at planes. Here is a pic from the last one.

original_97aba0e0-60c0-4357-9684-a8a3a05b9c3f_PXL_20240426_142614255.jpg
 
I've got some friends who compete here in Texas and love it. They all have Christen Eagles. This used to be a bucket list thing for me, but now I just like gentlemen aerobatics!

Thanks for sharing your passion with us!
 
The restaurant on the field has very good breakfast. Pop in on a Saturday morning, eat, then mosey down the ramp to watch some flights and look at planes.

Yeah, often when I'm out just flying around and sightseeing, I'll drop into Sebring for lunch. Nice outdoor patio, often a few interesting planes to look at.
 
I've got some friends who compete here in Texas and love it. They all have Christen Eagles. This used to be a bucket list thing for me, but now I just like gentlemen aerobatics!

Thanks for sharing your passion with us!
Texas has several excellent contests, or so I have heard. They used to have a Decathlon championship, but appears that has died out. Too bad, I would definitely make the trip for that.
 
Landed at UCY for fuel last month and was greeted with an acrobatic show. I was so distracted on final I ended up going around. I later learned it was an acrobatic camp.

20240512_134014.jpg
 
Landed at UCY for fuel last month and was greeted with an acrobatic show. I was so distracted on final I ended up going around. I later learned it was an acrobatic camp.

Not sure what an aerobatic ramp is, but some airfields do have standing waivers for low level aerobatic boxes. Minimum altitude for aerobatic flight is 1500 AGL, which deconflicts with the pattern. To go lower than that requires a waiver. The FAA will approve periodic waivers for contests and practice windows, and has also approved standing waivers for boxes that are active year round. These will normally be NOTAMed when open, and there will be a caution on ATIS. Usually the waiver will require a ground spotter monitoring the pattern frequency to warn aircraft and tell the aerobatic pilot to KIO if a potential conflict exists.

As an example, here is what the airport website for 42J, Keystone Heights FL says:

The “Certificate of Waiver or Authorization” has been issued to Patty Wagstaff Airshows Inc., 3501B North Ponce de Leon Blvd., #397, St. Augustine FL 32804 Telephone (904) 806-5778. Anyone wishing to utilize the Aerobatic Box shall contact Patty Wagstaff, or her designee, for permission. Notification will be made to Lockheed Martin FSS (800) 992-7433 and Jacksonville TRACON (904) 741-0700 to activate a NOTAM 30 minutes prior to any activity in the box.

A copy of the FAA Certificate of Waiver or Authorization is available for viewing at the Keystone Airport, Airport Manager’s, office.
 
"Camp" like a sports camp. There were several pilots there flying three times a day for a week. It was NOTAMed and there were several spotters/coaches on the ramp.
 
"Camp" like a sports camp. There were several pilots there flying three times a day for a week. It was NOTAMed and there were several spotters/coaches on the ramp.
Ah OK, misread it, sorry. Yes, I've done a weekend camp or two. Usually run by an IAC chapter. Also spent plenty of time spotting.

To do it right, there should be 2 observers with radios. One critiques the aerobatic flight in progress on the box freq. The other watches for and warns traffic on pattern freq.
 
Should have someone monitoring Flight Aware to get tail numbers. And call them by tail number before they are a factor. Just calling blue and white Cessna does not get their attention.
 
I have a home at UCY. Rob Holland (www.RHaerosports.com) runs several camps there each year for the US Advanced and Unlimited teams. Pilots from around the US and as far away as Guatemala come there to train. Coaches from France are often present also. You’ll see incredible new maneuvers there before they’re ever shown in public. You can contact Rob Holland on his website or Full Stop Aviation based at UCY to find out the dates they’ll be there.

It is common to have 5-10 of the top aerobatic pilots there for a week during the “camps”.

1718253901369.jpeg
 
I jokingly told my wife I was signing up for the next camp and she said good luck with that in the Maule.
 
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