RAF Flying Club Annual Aerobatic Competition

  |  Published: Jun 26th 2015
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The RAF Flying Clubs Association’s (RAFFCA’s) second annual Aerobatic Competition was held at RAF Halton recently.  The competition saw 16 pilots from across the 13 RAF Flying Clubs convene for a training session and an introduction to competition flying. 

Run in conjunction with the British Aerobatic Association (BAeA) and based on their highly successful Beginners Days, the competition was open to qualified pilots with no prior aerobatic experience with the intention of providing RAFFCA members with the opportunity to experience flying aerobatics in competition.  A range of high performance aerobatic aircraft such as the Pitts Special and Extra 200 were available for the day.

Flying with an instructor on board, each competitor flew a training sortie in the morning, which included the opportunity to fly the aerobatic sequence in front of the judges for critique but not scoring towards the competition.  After a break for lunch, each pilot then flew the sequence again in front of the judges, this time scored for real. Congratulations go to Cpl Paul Morrison of RAF Waddington for winning the competition with Squadron Leader Dave Hall from High Wycombe and the Halton Aeroplane Club as runner up and Geoff Silvey taking third place.

Competition aerobatics involves flying a pre-determined sequence in front of a panel of judges and within a 1km by 1km square performance ‘box’.  Marks are given for accuracy and appearance of each figure, as well as for positioning, with penalties possible for incorrect altitude or flying outside the designated box.  With speeds in excess of 150mph and aircraft capable of pulling 6G, flying a competition sequence within the box proved to be a test of mental skills for all of the competitors as well as a physical challenge. 

Sqn Ldr Hall said “I was really excited to find out about the RAFFCA Aerobatic Competition and to be put forward to represent the Halton Aeroplane Club.  I came back from both of my flights with a huge grin, and with my competition flight flown as the penultimate sequence of the day the final results were a bit of a nail-biter.  The standard was really good all round and so I was delighted to be awarded second place.”

The RAFFCA Training Session Commander was RAF Halton’s OC Ops Sqn, Sqn Ldr Gary Coleman, who said: “Three months of planning came together and coupled with some last minute good weather, we were able to hold the full competition. All of the competing pilots came back with huge grins on their faces; although some took a few minutes to calm down from their initial training flights. RAF Halton Operations Squadron worked well with the BAeA to enable an exceptionally safe event and the months of planning paid off with a highly successful day for all. The competitors were fighting it out for the Tony Ayre Blade trophy. RAF Halton’s Sgt Tony Ayre was the winner of the inaugural competition last year but was sadly killed in a motorcycle accident shortly after the contest, so we were honoured to be joined by Tony’s family throughout the day. The awards ceremony concluded the day’s proceedings and thanks go to Sir John Allison for awarding the BAeA medals and Tony’s mother Joan for presenting the blade itself. Joan went on to have a flight in the Pitts herself with BAeA Chairman and contest instructor Alan Cassidy. Her smile after the flight suggests that she rather enjoyed it.”

The Aerobatic Competition is just one of a number of air sport opportunities which are accessible through RAFFCA, over and above the opportunity for Servicemen and women of all ranks to learn to fly in a cost effective way.  To find out more, visit: www.raf.mod.uk/rafflyingclubs and www.haltonaeroclub.co.uk

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