(Information courtesy of Adam Gibbs, President, WACAAC)
The WA Chapter of the Australian Aerobatics Club hosted the WA State Aerobatics Competition at Murrayfield Airfield (near Mandurah) on 18 and 19 October 2014.
Aircraft began arriving from 7:30am Saturday, with pilot briefing at 8:30am and aerobatics starting at 9:30am. Flying continued throughout the day, with a break at midday. A similar schedule followed ion the Sunday.
Adam Gibbs, President of the WA Chapter Australian Aerobatics Club said that there were five categories, based on difficulty (Graduate, Sportsman, Intermediate, Advanced, and Unlimited), plus a Cessna 152 trophy for the highest placed Cessna 152 pilot in the Graduate category.
For every category, the pilots must fly a Known aerobatics sequence in a ‘box’ of airspace measuring 1000 metres x 1000 metres x 1000 metres. Participating pilots are provided with the sequence at the start of the calender year, so the pilots have plenty of time to practice for it – hence the term ‘Known’.
Each manoeuvre is given a score out of 10 by judges on the ground, and this is multiplied by a difficulty factor (“K”). Zero scores may be awarded for completely messing up the manoeuvre, flying too low, flying it in the wrong direction, etc. The total score for all the manoeuvres is tallied up along with any penalties and a score for positioning, and the pilot given an overall % score for the sequence.
In the Graduate category, pilots fly this Known twice, and then pilots are ranked on overall score to determine the winner. The current sequence is here: http://www.aerobaticsaustralia.com.au/sequences/2014/graduate2014.pdf (loop, half cuban, roll-off-the-top, 1-turn spin, stall turn, slow roll, 180 degree steep turn, 270 degree steep turn)
In every category above Graduate, the pilots must also fly a ‘Free’ sequence (a sequence they’ve designed themselves, that meets certain criteria and overall difficulty/K factor) and an ‘Unknown’ sequence (a sequence that is given to pilots the day before, that they cannot practice).
The scores from the Known, Free and Unknown are combined to give an overall percentage, and the contestants are then ranked.
At the end of the competition, there is usually a 4-minute freestyle flight, either a demonstration or an actual competition. This is for the pilots with the highest skill level and is more air-display type flying with tumbles, smoke and noise. The pilots are judged on extra things like creativity, positioning, energy, variety, etc.
The competition is open to any pilot with a General Flying Progress Test (GFPT) and Aerobatics endorsement. For insurance purposes, participating pilots must be at least a State member of the Australian Aerobatics Club, which is only $35 and can be sorted out that morning. If the pilot does not have a low level waiver, they can fly the sequence down to their normal 3000 feet AGL (Above Ground Level) or they can fly down to 1500 feet AGL with a safety pilot aboard who has the appropriate waiver.
Aircraft participating in the competition included:
- VH-AAZ American Champion 8KCAB Super Decathlon
- VH-NQX American Champion 8KCAB Super Decathlon
- VH-BQO Christen Eagle II
- VH-IXN Extra EA-330LX
- VH-NBX Extra EA-300L
- VH-WFX Extra EA-300L
- VH-WMX MXS Technologies MXS
- VH-FUC Pitts S-1D Special
- VH-JKR Stephens Akro Laser 230 “The Joker”
- VH-VSW Vans RV-8A
- VH-UWC Cessna 152 Aerobat of Royal Aero Club of Western Australia.