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IAC Discussion Summary

IAC Discussion Summary

Delivery-Date: Thu, 29 Apr 1999 20:51:00 -0400

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Disclaimer: These IAC pages are developed by individual IAC members and do not represent official IAC policy or opinion.

Collected by: John Harlan


After skillful footwork at our chapter elections I avoided the secretary's job and relaxed. I should have known better! Despite being new to the chapter, aerobatics and competitions, I managed to become co-contest director for Paso Robles 99. All of you who plan to compete can relax, the technical aspects, and the competition itself, will be in the capable hands of Tom Myers who is the "other half of the co-". I have the planning, logistics and execution up to the competition.

So, I'm looking for input:

1 What sources are there for information, "how to" guides and other resources to help me plan and execute a competition?

2 What do people LIKE to see before and at the competition?

3 What DON'T they like?

4 What are the keys to success.

5 Any other tips, hints, or gotchas.

Cheers - in anticipation


Most of the pilots come to contests to fly. Anything which impedes or limits getting in a full 3 flights is to be avoided. Note that some pilots will argue against proceeding if the weather is less than perfect. Sometimes these pilots are those already in the lead.

I'm only partly being silly, and maybe California always gets in all flights. Here in Tx, the vast majority of contests do not get in 3 flights, primarily due to slow changes from one category to the next, less than perfect (but flyable) weather, pilots that are not at airplanes when it is their turn to fly, judges that are not on the line when their category starts, missing volunteers for the corners, getting a late start in the morning, and knocking off early in the afternoon.

Most pilots come to a contest to get in the maximum flying.

Skip the tee shirts.

Have lots of water and snacks around at the airport so pilots don't wander off when needed for flying or volunteering.

Provide glorious, original, life-long-keeping, proud to display trophies. These make excellent door stops for the shop door in the hangar, whereas plastic bowling trophies do not.

Extra water and cool towels on the starting line for pilots basking in their cockpits while the judges debate whether something really snapped or not.

Skip the individual flight medals. Does anybody that ever got one of those bronze medals on a ribbon remember what contest it was for? If you are going to give individual flight medals, make it something unique to that contest and which can be used as a coffee cup coaster at work.

Nobody remembers how pompous the banquet was. Fajitas at the airport are often more fun (beer seems to help) than rubber chicken at the Holiday Inn.

Good luck,

Don P.

My advice for a successful contest:

1. APPOINT A CORNER JUDGE COORDINATOR: a person whose sole job it is to take corner judges out, pick them up, make sure they have water and sunscreen, etc. Do not rely on your volunteer coordinator to do this. He/She will be far too busy and can't be everywhere at once. I put this suggestion as the first one because it's really a make it or break it thing... it's a life saver for your volunteer coordinator, and it makes being a corner judge not such a bad thing if you know for sure you're gonna be taken care of.

2. FIND GOOD HELP: Make sure your registrar and volunteer coordinator are experienced. It helps a great deal if the volunteer coordinator is somebody who knows everyone. It is difficult to find John Doe, your panel flipper, if you don't know who he is. Also, make sure you know how to do the registrar and volunteer coordinators' jobs yourself in case they need help.

3. HAVE A DESIGNATED MEETING PLACE: If the judges line isn't right at the terminal, and especially if the line is located at a place where you'll have to drive to, have a meeting place at the terminal for a judges line role call before people go to the line. Do this role call when the previous category has about 4 pilots left to fly. The people who drive thier own vehicles down there will grumble, but insist that everyone stay until role call is complete. Otherwise you end up making 10 trips back and forth to get everyone there. This will make for smoother judges line transitions.

4. HAVE AN END OF THE DAY INFORMAL DEBRIEF: That way if there are changes to the judges line, or if there are things that need to be discussed to make the following day go smoothly, or if people have suggestions, this can be taken care of then when it's fresh on everybody's minds.

5. APPOINT AN EQUIPMENT MANAGER: This is someone who will be in charge of keeping radios charged, and will round up and inventory your radios each day.

Good luck on the contest, and have fun... If there are any specifics I can help you out with, don't hesitate to email me. I've been C.D. LOTS of times and know the job pretty well.

One more thing to add.....

Don Peterson wrote:

"Skip the individual flight medals. Does anybody that ever got one of those bronze medals on a ribbon remember what contest it was for?"

Actually, my bronze medal for the Advanced Known from Nationals '98 is among my favorite awards I've ever received. :-)

Allyson Parker-Lauck Loveland, CO

Gotta agree the Lady When you bust butt practicing and don't win a category, those flight medals become pretty important, and keep the youngsters coming back. Although the T shirt and hat thing are debatable. I've lost half my drawer space and suffered another hat attack when I opened my closet the other day. Seems like I've got those things going back to when Curtis wore shorts. I wonder if there is any value in antique aerobatic hats. All my employees wear them and still my closet is full. I think they are multiplying in there!!!!

Will Tryon

Allyson has listed out many very important points. Here are the others I would stress.

I would add one more staff position, and that is a designated person to champion the tear down of of the box and the corners at the end of the contest. I instead this year tried to be the person who put it together at the end of the contest, and it was not the best way to do it. In our case a couple trucks should be available to the key person so he/she can get a couple teams to run out and bring in the corner equipment and the paper we use in marking the box.

Here in Phx, we had (for the first time) a designated corner driver. It was her job to make the rounds and keep the corners in water/sodas/coffee. She was a lifesaver for the VC.

Do as much planng as possible in advance so that the day of the contest you can be the cheerleader. If you have picked good people, leave them alone to do the work you hired the to do. Keep a pulse on the contest but don't micro- manage it.

Pay special attention to getting a key person to take care of the end of the day stuff like food, clean-up, collecting the radio's ect. This is a point I seem to always try and do myself, and it leads to more stress than you need or want as the CD (and stress reduction is always a good thing).

If possible don't break for lunch, but instead, feed the judges at the line. You'll get many more flights by eating at the line. This means the VC will have to get lunchs to line and possibly the corners. We have very little trouble doing this.

The more organized you are going in the better the result will be. We have a checklist that has been added to by each CD. At board meeting we keep track of the planning of the contests, and offer all the help we can. As a club it should be a goal to train and improve contest operation. A debrief of the contest should occure a soon as practical after your contest to learn what was good/bad. Document the good and the bad. I will send our checklist to any one who requests it. Drop me an email.

Try to have fun. If you stress out, I assure you, your staff will too. Take a deep breath and be calm in the face of adversity! HAVE FUN and everyone else will too.

Rick Aldom CD 1998, 1997 Arizona State Aerobatic Championships Chapter 69 Phoenix Aerobatic Club

Fly more Contest directors and chief judges shut up. There is nothing worse then getting to a 7:00AM briefing and listening to you guys talk about nothing. Cover all that needs to be covered but thats it. Judges if you are there to judge be waiting to judge. Don't wait for someone to come get you to do your job. Pilots who are judges should do the same. Your the one who wants to judge so do it. Judges should have some form of payment for there services. I don't know any pilot that wouldn't pay twice the entry fee to help get more judges. The starter should put the planes in line as they come out of the hanger. Every sport but ours has a starting grid. When you know the order of flight put your plane in line. The IAC has said that we don't need corner judges. If you don't have enough don't have them. If the pilots don't like it maybe they will sign up. Forget the banquit. Order off the menu after your meal and tip, add $10.00 to the check for the chapter. Forget the Tee shirt {shit} Pay the judges something Forget the trophy pay the pilots. REMEMBER THIS- IN ALL FORMS OF SPORTS THEY RUN BETTER AS A DICTATORSHIP

Tom, After appointing helpers, follow up to be sure they do the job. Some like to volunteer at the meeting, but get lazy on the job and leave you hanging. Have a good experienced starter to keep it rolling, and really concentrate on the judge change during the contest. Way to much time lost there. Have an ordinary contest. Gerry Z

Hi Graham: You asked for advice. That is a hallmark of a successful man about to successfully undertake a new venture. Congratulations !

1. ASAP secure a current copy of the Contest Directors handbook from headquarters. I will look through my files and see if I can find an old one. Everything you need to know (almost) is within its covers. Apply for the contest packet ASAP. Upon arrival sutdy it throughly. There is a wealth of information within.

2. Before the competition all those who might be thinking of attending must be given notice of the scheduled dates and the general order of the programs. An advertisement in all of the western chapters newsletters, a notice on the web, a notice in the Chap. 38 section of the IAC homepage, and if budgeted a mailing to all recent attendees. A well done "flyer" (advertisement) will include the dates, names, phone numbers and price ranges of motels, rental car agencies and a notice of the banquet site. Pilots like to arrive to a well organized location with safety measures (dead prop line etc.) already established, the box open for practice but under effective safety control, an organized and efficient set-up for registration, helpful asisstance in picking up rental cars, food and beverage transportaion for those without rental cars, secure hangar space with fair allocation, tie downs for those who prefer a sign-up sheet for volunteers, a well qualified, experienced, likeable Volunteer Coordinator. You will need a first rate starter and assistant starters. They are keys to a successful operation. A first rate radio network to control operations and to allow the Chief Judge to talk to the boundary judges is manditory. Developing a personal relationship with the airport manager is not only necessary but a real pleasure as Roger is such a neat guy.

3. People don't like to be ignored upon arrival and have to fend for themselves for everything. They need to be made to feel they are welcomed and wanted. Those who have never flown at Paso need particular care so that they can "learn the ropes" and thereby made to feel part of the whole plan right from the start. The old timers tend to think of these contests as family reunions and get so busy renewing acquaintance with their friends of the past twenty or more years that they sometimes need to be reminded to look out for the newcomer and help him/her out. This is important on practice days as well as throughout the contest. It can be very confusing for a beginner. The judges don't like to have their paper work arrive late on the line or out of order. The registration desk people are very important to the contiued smooth running of the contest.

4. Keys to success a. Volunteer Coordinator b. Starters c.Registrars d.Change the boundary Judges during the category, not between. It saves time e. Get the Judges on the line early with all their paper work. f. Minimize the time lost in category changes. It's hard to improve on a good starter crew's productivity without impinging safety considerations. The place to save time is by starting timely and switching categories efficiently. g. Try to get the banquet at the winery on the hill. People love it.

5. Obtain every Judge/assistant Judge/ Recorder's IAC number ASAP. You will need most of them to fill out the forms to go back to IAC after the contest. Line up a set-up crew and a clean - up crew. Organize how you will complete the paper work and get the paper work turned around and back to IAC ASAP. Make a copy of the contest scoring computer disk to retain in case the original and/or the paper work gets lost. Handle noise complaints and personal problems quietly and away from the others. The less the rank and file know about the problems of running a contest the happier they are. Arizona has had good luck with pre-registration run through the e-mail net. Securing as many judges and committments from pilots in advance is a bonus. Pre-registration makes the registration effort smoother. Kathy Straub of Phoenix is the guru on that subject.

Thanks for taking on this responsibility, I trust you will find it rewarding,

Dick Rihn

These comments relate to background of the comp. There seems enuff input on the flying part:

I agree about the medals, and I also like a good T-shirt. Both make for momentoes (spelling?) of good events. Big events even have a souvenir medal (or something) for all participants. Speeches must be mimised if a formal evening is planned and this formal evening might well be a necessity for keeping the sponsors happy.

But ......... years ago my wife bought me a plaque after she had seen how my butt was in a sling for political reasons after a National Championships which most thought was excellent..

6 Phases of a project

1 Organisation 2 Enthusiasm 3 Troubleshooting 4 Panic 5 Search for the guilty 6 Praise and honours for the non participants.

Having done all the work:- 1 Make sure that you are efficient and 2 Ensure that other people don't muscle in on the credit whilst you get the blame (because there will always be a problem somewhere and you can't please all of the people all of the time). See second line above re speeches, you will be amazed how many people who did zero will get applause. 3. Oh yes, if there are other aviation events in the area at the same time a communication of what's going on would be great. This was the only real failing of the World Air Games in Turkey, where distance and communication made certain that nobody from one event had communication of any other and they might as well have held events anywhere in the world because of that. Pity. The rest was great.

Max Braude

One of your sources of information has been corrupted in recent years. I am referring to EAA HQ's Chapter Directory. For the last few years, our parent organization has removed the mailing address for chapter presidents from the directory. This provided a direct method of sending out contest flyers/brouchers to regionally located IAC chapters. Now, you have to call the chapter presidents to ask for their mailing addresses. A work around to this is to request mailing labels of all IAC members within your defined zip code blocks (abcxx). With these labels you can do a direct contest mailing to each current IAC member within a given region. You will have to obtain a zip code directory from the USPS. To narrow your mailings further, review the SPORT AEROBATICS contests reports from the past couple of years and see who is competing and in what catagories. This will give you a feel for how many in a catagory may compete. Cross reference these names with the mailing labels (since SA no longer prints the city/state of a competitor due to space limitations). Draw a 100 and 200 nm radius around your contest site (in western states milage may vary), and determine who lies within the boundaries. Between your chapter newsletter mass mailing and newsletter exchange with other chapters (you do exchange newsletters, don't you?) you will have done about all you can in the way of drawing competitors regionally. An advertisement in SPORT AEROBATICS needs a good graphic to catch the eye. The contest listing is where most people look first, so if the dates and place have been set and you have applied for your sanction, you're covered.

Eric Rood

Another person to add to the staff is someone to ferret out sponsors. This can be as simple as asking the local bottler of water to donate however many cases you need for the practice and contest days. Offer to hang a banner on the airport fence in exchange for the donation. Don't forget the chain groceries (Kroger, Publix, etc). These companies can provide food for your hungary contest staff (judges lunches, corner workers, etc.). Don't leave out companies like Wendy's, McDonald's, Subway, etc. This is the job for a good negotiator. Ask for the world, take what you are offered, ask for a little more. All they can say is NO. For airport transportation, go to you local John Deere dealer. They can provide Gators for the runs to the corners, judges line, hangar, etc. These are just some starting points, use your imagination and local resources for other specific needs. You will be surprised what you will recieve if you ask.

Eric Rood

Aw com'on, Max!!! It all depends upon where you live. How far do you consider too far? I've had regulars drive 300+ miles to attend Chapter 34's contest to be judges. Until a few years ago, IAC 34 was the only chapter west of the Alleghanies, south of Detriot, east of Chicago, and north of Tennessee. That's alot of country (Indianna, Kentucky, West Virginia, Western Pennsylvania and Ohio). Randy Reinhart was the onlycompeting aerobatic pilot in Kentucky, Earl ??? was the only competing aerobatic pilot in West Virgina, a group of USAir pilots from Beaver Falls, PA, and Ed Wolf and Laura Heinonon from Indiannapolis all joined IAC 34 because it provided the activity they were looking for. We even picked up new members from around Ohio by doing the direct mailing. Some of them were people who had only dreamed of competing until we reached out to them. The chapters in the Western United States draw from an even larger geographic are. Look at Australia, how many aerobatic clubs are there on the entire island? (Er, make that continent, don't want to upset anyone :-)

Eric Rood


Don said it well. We want to fly!!! Remember that very, very often the judges now are the pilots flying next, so any coordination that can speed up the change overs and provide the much needed water and snacks will help a lot.

Steve Johnson

I forgot to add:

At least one month before your contest, contact IAC HQ and request a copy of the most current judges list. Send those in your target geographic area an invitation and copy of your contest brouchure. And remember, "If you ask them, they will come!" (Well, some of them,... maybe :-)

Eric Rood

We have been having incredibly efficient contests in Sebring for some time now. So much so that last Octobeer :-) we had to slow things down or we would have finished early. Not only have we been getting great cooperation from everyone but someone developed a new way of handling the volunteer problem. If we need someone we appoint someone now!!!!

Will Tryon

There aren't too many aerobatic clubs in Australia. The Australian Aerobatic Club has the odd chapter around the country. Then there's the Royal Federation of Aero Clubs which runs an annual contest. Some flying schools also run their own contests. The Oz chapter of the IAC is defunct. So there is really only one aerobatic club here. Then there are those who'd say that every chapter is a separate club and we've been arguing that point for the last quarter century.

By the way, this year all the important contests are at Wangaratta. ---------------------------------------------------- Regards, Dave Pilkington

lAnd yet another thing to add... Also, about a month or so before your contest, contact IAC HQ and request a printout of the entire IAC membership. This way the registrar will be able to look up and verify contestants and judges member info that may have been left at home. It is also the only way to verify new memberships.

Eric Rood

In a message dated 99-01-03 23:57:12 EST, writes:

<< I'm only partly being silly, and maybe California always gets in all flights. Here in Tx, the vast majority of contests do not get in 3 flights, primarily due to slow changes from one category to the next, less than perfect (but flyable) weather, pilots that are not at airplanes when it is their turn to fly, judges that are not on the line when their category starts, missing volunteers for the corners, getting a late start in the morning, and knocking off early in the afternoon.>>

My 2 cents... The above, I believe, is really a matter of management, and of course, it does depend on the amount of talent you have to draw from. If you've got a well- oiled, efficient team, this shouldn't be a problem...Starter, Vol. Coordinator, van drivers with a copy of the volunteers for that flight in hand to do a roll call, etc. etc. etc. etc. This takes more than 3-4 key people...all of who have to know what they're doing, and preferably have 1-2 people at their sides who are learning (and running errands!)

Great suggestion by Allyson to have a Boundary Coordinator!

Skip the tee shirts. >> Sure, for those who have a closetful of contest t-shirts, but what about the first-timers (or 2nd or 3rd timers?) They always want one, & if you can get a sponsor to pay for them, then every one you sell is profit!

As I said, my 2 cents.... Kathy Straub Phoenix Aerobatic Club

In a message dated 99-01-04 08:57:53 EST, AIRADLTD@AOL.COM writes:

<< Forget the trophy pay the pilots >>

Anyone??? I envision less sportsmanlike flying/behavior to win the cash in this scenario.

Kathy Straub

In response to the original message concerning contest orginization....I must say the following: 1) It is next to impossible to get all 3 flights and all 5 categories flown in a typical Friday-Saturday contest.... I say we 86 the banguet and fly on least half a day on Sunday, and see what happens....

any suggestions ?

here is mine........ WE fly I,A,U twice on Friday ( k, F)... We fly B/SM Twice on Saturday (k,F)..and if time allows I (unk) We fly A,U (unk) Sun morning .and finish with B/SM (k)

the contest is over at 12 noon, and we all fly home -----Original Mesage-----
From: Max Braude <>

To: 'Eric Rood' <>; IAC Maillist


Date: Monday, January 04, 1999 8:27 PM Subject: RE: [IAC] Contest Inf

>I think it is way to expensive to import contest staff. >Consider using locals ;-) > > >Max Braude

> >-----Original Message-----
>From: Eric Rood []

>These companies can provide food for your hungary contest staff


Twice a year, i drive 380 miles on way to Phoenix to judge and, last time, they made me Volunteer Coordinator! While in Phoenix, I drive 40 miles one way each day between my aunt's house and the contest airport.

Sandra Bullock IAC Chapter 49 Los Angeles, CA

We just had a 53 competitor contest and flew three flights (except basic that flew one). We had to push like hell to make it happen, but it did. It was a real team effort and the weather wasn't all that accomodating (however it was flyable). The format was our standard, register and practice Thursday and contest Friday and Saturday and the banquet Saturday night. I had judges almost frozen on the line at the end of the contest (and snow the next day in PHX!!). We flew that contest with half the normal daylight a summer contest has.

My two cents: You have to have a sense of urgency from sun up to sun down. Without it you can't get it all done.

Rick Aldom Chapter 69 Phoenix Aerobatic Club. 1997 & 1998 Arizona State Championships Contest Director

In a message dated 1/5/99 9:09:08 PM Pacific Standard Time, writes:

<< ) It is next to impossible to get all 3 flights and all 5 categories flown in a typical Friday-Saturday contest.... I say we 86 the banguet and fly on least half a day on Sunday, and see what happens.... >>

In the Southwest, we almost always get 5 categories through three flights each, except Basic usually flies only once. And that is with 50 competitors. We did it in Phoenix last month, on two of the shortest days of the year. If everyone in the contest is committed to doing their part, competitors, it can happen. We flew all of the knowns and two categories of Unknowns on Friday. The rest of the categories were finished on Saturday.

Sandra Bullock IAC Chapter 49 Los Angeles Aerobatic Club

Two more cents:

Several days ago I saw advice to a prospective CD to ensure that the volunteer coordinator be equipped with an assistant solely to assist with boundary judge placement.

It's excellent advice--at Borrego (Chapter 36) we have employed the technique ever since seeing someone else do it at another contest about six years ago.

Another tip for CDs, one we gratefully stole about three years ago: Fly Unlimited first, then Intermediate, rather than Advanced. Advanced judges are usually drawn from the Unlimited pilots, and getting them from their airplanes immediately to the judging line wastes time. Putting Intermediate before Advanced helps a bit.

As a final tip (again stolen from another bright soul): change boundary judges mid-Category. It greatly reduces the coordinator workload during Category changes and has proved very successful in keeping things moving along: the only time that all personnel--judges, starter and corners--have to be set all at the same time is first flight of the day. Typically, we keep the same boundaries for Unlimited (provided the Category is reasonably small) and through the first half of Intermediate, then do the first corner change. Thereafter, corners change half way through each Category.

It all helps: contestants come to contests to fly. Everything that keeps the contest moving is good. Everything that causes delays is not.

Michael Church

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