A Summer Update

Mike at AWACWorld Yak-52 Aerobatic Championships Opens

Saturday, the 23rd of June, marked the first day of the FAI Aerobatic Championships contest season with the opening of the 3rd FAI World YAK-52 Aerobatic Championships in Russia. The competition is being held at the Airfield Finam (Bolshoe Gryzlovo), Serpukhov region, Russia under the direction of Dmitry Samokhvalov. Chief Judge is Pavol Kavka of Slovakia, one of CIVA’s most experienced Chief Judges.

Previous Yak-52 Championships have been held in Lithuania and Russia and are a relatively new addition to the CIVA menu of competitions. Since thousands of these aircraft were built during the Soviet era and were used as aerobatic trainers all over Eastern Europe, we have had hopes for a “single type” competition featuring this aircraft to gain in popularity due to its availability. The aircraft have been exported all over the world as well. Many are flown in countries as far flung as the United States and South Africa.

While the previous Championships have experienced rather low turnouts, I do believe this Championship has potential as last year at our CIVA meeting in Krakow, it was agreed that a new “Intermediate” category be added and held in conjunction with these Championships in the years ahead, to enhance participation and open up FAI events to even more pilots. This will make these competitions financially viable as it is very difficult to organize one without strong participation if state or private sponsorship is not provided.

As I write this article, the Q and Free Programmes have been completed and the pilots now move to the Unknowns. The contest will conclude no later than the 30th of June. In the meantime, news reports are being posted on the contest website and full results can be found at the CIVA Results website.

Upcoming Events

The rest of the summer will be quite busy for everyone involved in FAI Aerobatics as from Russia, we move on to the World Advanced Aerobatic Championships in Nyiregyhaza, Hungary on 26 July through 5 August; the World Glider Aerobatic Championships in Dubnica nad Vahom, Slovakia on 9-18 August 2012; and finally, the European Aerobatic Championships in Dubnica nad Vahom on 1-9 September 2012.

One of CIVA’s most important responsibilities is providing highly qualified and skilled International Officials for these events and this year was no exception. Earlier in the year, our Judging Sub-Committee (JSC) began its annual task of issuing invitations and accepting applications from FAI International Judges to officiate at these events. Judges who work their way up through national and international competitions and are selected to evaluate the flying at FAI Championships are highly qualified and current. CIVA uses judging data from the past three years to choose those Judges who have proven themselves the best on the judging line and consistently and accurately pick the final order of finish. Many have been involved in aerobatics for decades and some have competition pilot experience as well as contest organization backgrounds. They understand FAI Championships, the complexity of the rules, and have devoted many hours of their personal time to the improvement of aerobatic flying worldwide. I deeply admire these men and women – and thank them for their service to FAI. Lists of those International Officials chosen this year can be found elsewhere on this website.

There is no question that the largest FAI Championships this year will be the World Advanced Aerobatic Championships (WAAC) in Hungary. The first WAAC (at the time called “AWAC”) was held in South Africa in 1995 and we have had an uninterrupted stream of these events ever since. This year’s competition is our tenth. At last report, over 90 pilots had registered for the event. The Board of Judges will be extremely busy on the days the competition is in progress and will judge thousands of aerobatic figures.

This year also marked another first – three FAI Aerobatic Championships will be held on the same site. Slovakia successfully bid last year for the European Aerobatic Championships (Unlimited Power category), the World Advanced Glider Aerobatic Championships, and the World Glider Aerobatic Championships (Unlimited Glider category). This has never occurred in CIVA’s 52 year history and I am very thankful to the Slovaks for taking on this difficult task.

Last year, the European Advanced Aerobatic Championships was held in Dubnica, to great success, so it is a proven venue with experienced organizers.

All of the competitions have their own websites which can be found on this website under “Events” and once they are in progress, results are posted throughout the day by the local scoring offices on www.civa-results.com. No matter where you are in the world, it is possible to follow these events and to see all the scores. Our CIVA Results website also makes it possible to see individual pilots’ marks as well, so enjoy the competitions, even if you are not there in person.

Rules Proposals

Another one of CIVA’s most important tasks is the ongoing improvement of our rules documents – the FAI Sporting Code. Section 6 is our part of the Code and we devote many hours of Sub-Committee meetings as well as the plenary to the consideration of proposals from our members. Proposals are submitted by Delegates each year by a deadline established by the President. This year it is 1 July 2012.

In addition, proposals also come in during the Fall as a result of experiences at the season’s Championships and these are classified by the President as either “Safety”, “Expedited”, or “Normal” proposals. Safety and Expedited Proposals (SP’s and EP’s) are discussed at the next plenary meeting, getting the immediate attention they deserve. Other less urgent proposals are categorized as “Normal” and submitted to Sub-Committees for review the following year.

Altogether, CIVA has four Sub-Committees: Rules, Judging, Glider Aerobatics, and Catalogue. All are chaired by very experienced people who are elected each year at the plenary.

The Rules and Judging Sub-Committees will meet this year in Dubnica on the 30th of August just prior to the beginning of the EAC. The Glider Aerobatics Sub-Committee will meet sometime during the WGAC in August. The Catalogue Sub-Committee usually conducts its meetings by e-mail.

Once these Sub-Committees meet, they issue their recommendations to plenary for rules changes. Proposals that do not survive the Sub-Committees’ deliberations are not forwarded to the plenary. Though that may seem harsh at times, the Sub-Committees are all democratically elected at the plenary and positions on these groups are highly coveted. Their meetings can last for many hours as discussions also take place by e-mail as well. They spend the time necessary to give proposals their “time in court” and CIVA has, therefore, entrusted them with this broad authority. Our system has worked very well for decades. It is transparent and every Delegate can contribute to the improvement and evolution of our Sporting Code.

National Implications

While CIVA is an international body within the FAI family of Air Sports Commissions and our principle focus is on FAI Aerobatic Championships, the fact remains our work affects national aerobatic associations as well.

Most national aerobatic groups adopt most, if not all, of the applicable CIVA rules for their own competitions. For example, the size of the Aerobatic Zone (or “box”) is standard throughout the world. Judging criteria are largely identical no matter where you fly in the world – from Russia to Australia. The CIVA-approved scoring program, ACRO, is used in many countries. Aerobatic aircraft used by competitors today are built in several different countries. While in our early years Team pilots flew aircraft that were usually built in their own nations, today that is no longer true. A World Champion today might fly an aircraft built in Germany, with an engine built in the USA, and be a member of yet another country’s Team.

One of the many positive aspects of this is the aerobatic world has become closer. While our competitors still fly under the flag of their country, they enjoy the friendship and support from other competitors from around the world. Of course, this is one of FAI’s most important objectives – to foster international cooperation and communication in air sports around the globe.

Future Aerobatic Championships

Last year, with the cooperation of several of my colleagues, I authored the CIVA Guidelines for Bidding for Championships. This document was sent to all CIVA Delegates and it outlined what is required of potential organizers of our competitions and outlines the type of information Delegates need when they select the hosts for future Championships. That document will be updated shortly and distributed again to Delegates and anyone who expresses an interest in organizing an FAI Aerobatic Championships.

For 2013, two organizers have been selected. The 27th FAI World Aerobatic Championships will be held in Sherman/Denison, Texas in October. The USA won the bid to host the WAC at the 2011 CIVA meeting in Krakow but had originally proposed an airfield near Las Vegas, Nevada to hold the competition. This airport later became unavailable so the decision was made to move to Texas.

Sherman/Denison is very familiar to all Americans involved in competition as the site of the US National Aerobatic Championships since 1972. It is a former Air Force base with immense ramps, hangars, and runways with an excellent box. The American personnel who will be organizing and directing the competition are very experienced and Sherman/Denison is a “home away from home” for most of them. The October date was selected as the US Nationals are held in late September and the weather should be cooler by that time of year. Contest Director will be Chris Rudd who at the time of this writing is serving as a Judge at the World Yak-52 Aerobatic Championships in Russia. Chris is a very dedicated aerobatic pilot and organizer and will do a fine job at the competition.

The other competition organizer selected was Finland, to host the World Glider Aerobatic Championships Oripää, Finland.  Dates will be 18 to 28 July 2013.  The Finns are terrific organizers and very attentive to detail, so I expect an excellent Glider Championships. 

That said, we do await bids for the 2013 European Advanced Aerobatic Championships

In addition, it is never too soon to bid on Championships in 2014 and beyond and CIVA welcomes those bids. I urge you to contact me at civa-president@fai.org if you are interested in organizing a competition.

I should mention that there will be a German proposal on the table this year to go back to a two-year cycle for the World Glider Aerobatic Championships. That idea will be discussed at the upcoming GASC meetings in Dubnica and perhaps at our plenary in November.

The Plenary

Speaking of plenary meetings, this year CIVA will return to Lausanne, Switzerland this year. We are required by FAI Statutes to return to the home of FAI every three years and the meeting will be held on 3-4 November 2012. I do expect an “informal discussion” as well on Friday, 2 November. Additional information, to include the Agenda, will be published on our “Meetings” page (under “Documents”) later in the year. The meeting usually attracts 50 to 60 people from 23 to 25 countries with other member countries represented by proxy. The meetings are fast-moving, intense, and productive and I look forward to them every year, though most of October is spent preparing for the meeting in my office here at home in the USA.

Finally ….

As I close this “blog”, let me wish everyone a year of safe flying as well as my personal thanks to everyone who helps make our sport possible. I am now in my 26th year as CIVA President and I cannot begin to adequately describe how thankful I am for the experience, having traveled to so many places and met so many fine people. I thank you for your trust and support.