News-Sun file photo The spring meet of the International Aerobatic Club begins Thursday at Sebring Regional Airport.
published: Wednesday, May 01, 2013
Aerobatics group lands at Sebring Regional Airport
By BARRY FOSTER
SEBRING - It's the spring, and while many young men's fancy turns to baseball, it also means the first of a pair of aerobatic competitions of the year will take to the skies above Sebring Regional Airport.
This will be the spring meet of the International Aerobatic Club, where dozens of competitors fly in for two days of competition for points and camaraderie.
Although the event gets under way officially on Thursday, many of the competitors have been at the Sebring Regional Airport for nearly a week practicing up for the event.
Pilots fly in one of five individual categories, beginning with the Primary division. There also are the Sportsman, Intermediate, Advanced and Unlimited classes. Aviators advance through the ranks through experience and performance.
The pilots go out individually, flying routines including both "known" and "unknown" categories. The "known" flights are designed by each competitor, then flown to show their proficiency in a number of different maneuvers.
The "unknown" flights are a bit different. Pilots are given a number of different maneuvers that they must cobble together into a routine within a certain amount of time. They then fly the routine to be reviewed by judges.
Maneuvers include such well-known aerobatics as the barrel roll and the stall turn, as well as lesser-known maneuvers such as the scissors and the Cuban eight.
The IAC competitors come from all over the United States and abroad to fly in the semi-annual meets.
There are nearly three dozen different makes and models of aircraft that are eligible for the competition, but there are favorites for speed and handling, including the Pitts Special and the Russian-built Sukhoi.
Officially, the IAC meet is listed as a "non-spectator event," however, those who wish to watch may see the competitors fly from a grassy area by the airport's main building.
The IAC is a division of the Experimental Aircraft Association and the National Aeronautics Association. Not only does the organization promote aerobatics, it also governs the sport of competition aerobatics.
The organization was founded in 1970, evolving from of the EAA's "Precision Flying Division" to provide an organized method for advancing aerobatic skills via a "building block" competition system.
It is responsible for pilot selection of Advanced, Unlimited Power and Unlimited Glider Aerobatic Teams that represent the United States at World Aerobatic Championships events. IAC has grown to be the world's largest aerobatic organization.
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