The Imperial War Museum at Duxford is a wonderful location for an aerobatic
competition and the British
Aerobatic Association was very pleased to
receive an invitation from Mick Martin (Airfield Director) to return to the
airfield to run an Advanced and Unlimited level contest in 2009. Jen Buckenham worked with Mick and Esther Blaine (Public Relations Manager) at
Duxford over the winter and spring to set an early June date for the
contest. Jen works tremendously hard on behalf of the BAeA throughout the
year and it is thanks to her dedication setting-up the Calendar of events
for each season that we are able to enjoy contests at such fabulous
locations as Duxford. The final set-up meeting was held on the Tuesday
before the event, with Duxford bathed in glorious sunshine and a Spitfire
flying a practice display in a cloudless blue sky. It is easy to see why
this is a
dream destination airfield for pilots. Unfortunately, the BBCs
five day forecast suggested that the weather would not hold for the weekend
and we could be battling rain, low cloud and thunderstorms during the
contest not a great prognosis, but we would have to adapt our plans to
accommodate the weather over the weekend.
Saturday morning arrived and so did the bad
weather, with rain and low cloud affecting much of England, although at Duxford the rain gradually eased off so by the first briefing at 0930 we had
a workable cloud base and very light rain. Nine pilots had managed to get to Duxford, although a number of competitors, including Eddie Goggins from
Ireland and two visiting Dutch pilots were blocked by poor weather en route.
The two Unlimited level pilots, Mark
Jefferies (Extra 300SC) and Kester Scrope (Edge 540) flew their Q
programme first. Both pilots put in good flights and are clearly benefiting
from the expert critique provided by
Eric Vazeille at the British Team
Training Camps organised by David Cowden (British Aerobatic Foundation).
Kester scored 70% for this flight, but Mark edged into the lead with 75%.
Seven Advanced pilots contested the Duxford Challenge Cup and after the Q programme, Gary Ferriman (Extra 230)
had established a strong lead by posting an impressive score of 76% for his
flight, although Nick Richards (Extra 300L), Paul Tomlinson (Edge 360) and
Simon Johnson (Pitts S1T) all scored more than 70% in the sequence to keep
the pressure on Gary for the Unknown sequence.
The judges and their assistants had a quick break to warm-up before resuming with the Unlimited
Unknown a challenging sequence that Mark managed to fly cleanly with no
zeros. Kester unfortunately rolled the wrong way during a rolling circle to
collect a Hard Zero to give Mark the victory in this sequence. It is very
clear that both are flying very well, their accuracy
and technique improving progressively as the season and the training camps
progress. This bodes very well for both pilots who
will be flying for the
Mazda British Aerobatic Team at the World Aerobatic Championships that will
be held at Silverstone in August this year.
The Advanced pilots were next to face the
challenge of flying an unknown sequence and the judges saw some excellent
the top four pilots posting scores of more than 70%. Gary
consolidated his lead with an impressive 75% in the Unknown,
closely followed by Paul Tomlinson, who again showed that he has the ability
to make-up ground at a contest by putting in improving performances in
successive flights during the day. Nick Richards flew very well to come
third in the Unknown, pushing Simon Johnson into fourth place, despite Simon
scoring 70% for his flight in the Pitts S1T.
Kester then flew a Free Programme
training flight while the judges had a lunch break. Mick Martin printed off
a weather forecast for Sunday, which made grim reading low cloud,
with persistent heavy rain for most of the day. There was enough time left to run
the Masters Competition if the Advanced pilots were prepared to fly again on
the Saturday. The pilots agreed that in view of the forecast we should make
use of the good
weather, then close the event before the
bad weather arrived, so that everyone could leave on Saturday evening and
get home safely.
Ian Scott gave an excellent briefing to
explain what the judges would expect to see flown during each compulsory
figure of the Masters programme not many pilots had worked out that a
1/8th Clover Leaf required starting on a heading offset 45° to the
main axis! The embellished Derry Turn also led to a detailed debate about
how many rolls were required at the central point of the figure but
finally the judges and pilots seemed to know what was expected and five
pilots took on the Masters Challenge! The Masters programme is really a great
flight to watch. The rules allow each pilot to embelish each of the
compulsory figures by adding twists and turns of their own, so long as the
fundamental geometry of the basic figure is respected. Richard Buchan put in
the most spirited performance to win the title.
The medals and a
collection of prizes provided by the Imperial War Museum were presented by
Duxford's Mick Martin to each of the
winners. The Duxford Challenge Cup was won by Gary Ferriman, with Nick
second and Paul Tomlinson third. Mark Jefferies won the Unlimited
contest and Richard Buchan took home the Masters Gold Medal, with Paul
Tomlinson second and Gary Ferriman third.
In the end we were lucky with the weather
at Duxford and managed to get most of the scheduled sequences flown during
the Saturday. This was only possible because of the great way that everyone
involved, pilots, Duxford staff, judging team and BAeA
officials alike, all worked together to ensure that we got as much flying done as
possible. We were also very fortunate to have three American visitors, Phil,
Tammy and Corey, volunteer to work on the judging line for the whole day,
which enabled us to support four judging teams on the line. I am sure that
they had not planned to spend their day at Duxford in quite that way, but it
was a pleasure to work with them and they made a huge difference to our
ability to run the judging line effectively.
Thank you to everyone who contributed to
making this a very enjoyable, friendly, competitive and safe event. I would
especially like to thank Stephen Madle who agreed to be Deputy CD at very
short notice and did an excellent job overseeing contest operations. Mick
Martin and Duxford were excellent hosts and we very
much hope that we will
be invited back for another competition next year.
The next Unlimited level power contest
scheduled this year is the World Aerobatic Championships at Silverstone,
which will be held from the 20th to 29th August. We expect to see 60 pilots
from 20 countries battle it out to be crowned World Aerobatic Champion.
Please put the dates in your diary, come along to support the event and help
the BAeA make WAC 2009 an excellent event. You can find much more information
about the Championships at the two web sites