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ACRO E-mail Archive Thread: [Acro] Poll: Do we need a new category betwee ...


Thread: [Acro] Poll: Do we need a new category betwee ...

Message: [Acro] Poll: Do we need a new category between Advanced and Unlimited?

Follow-Up To: ACRO Email list (for List Members only)

From: Franko Allan <allan.franko at>

Date: Sat, 23 Feb 2002 23:54:18 UTC


I'm considering submitting a proposal for a rule change to establish a
new IAC category, provisionally to be called "Sporting Unlimited", and I
would like some feedback on the idea.  I would be grateful for personal
E-mails from those who have opinions they don't want posted for all to
criticize, as well as for replies to the group.

Need for an additional category
    1.  The range of difficulty between Sportsman and Unlimited has
increased substantially over the past 20 years.  This leaves gaps in the
current category structure which make it difficult for some pilots to
find their ideal category, and which make it harder than necessary to
progress between categories.  (Sportsman became easier when the snap
roll was deleted.  Unlimited has been made progressively more difficult
in order to challenge the very best aircraft.)  Adding a category would
reduce these problems and thus improve participation at our contests.
    2.  The recent rule change to give bonus points for shorter Free
programs in Unlimited has completed the evolution of this category to
the point that it is futile to compete in Pitts Specials and many 4
cylinder monoplanes.  Including a number of less common designs with
similar performance, these aircraft constitute the largest single group
of aircraft owned by IAC members.  Many of these aircraft are among the
most affordable aerobatic planes available.  Because of these realties,
I think IAC should be doing everything possible to maximize contest
participation by this group of aircraft.  Instead, IAC has moved in the
opposite direction by no longer providing a category in which these
planes can be flown to the limit of their capabilities.  I believe that
this has two negative effects on IAC contest participation.  First,
those who wish to fly sequences of Unlimited-like complexity and
challenge but cannot afford a high performance monoplane have already
left the sport.  Second, newcomers to the sport quickly realize that
being competitive at the highest level requires an aircraft costing
$200,000 or more.  The majority of pilots cannot imagine spending that
much money to pursue a hobby.  Of course, this does not deter many
newcomers from progressing through the lower categories without worrying
that finances will prevent them from reaching the highest level.
However, I believe that an appreciable number of the most talented
pilots leave the sport soon after facing this reality, to devote their
enthusiasm to a hobby which does not have a financial barrier to
achieving excellence.  A Sporting Unlimited category, using the rules
and attitudes that governed  Unlimited when these planes dominated the
category,  will increase contest participation because it will allow all
owners of these affordable planes to dream of eventually flying in a
category that truly challenges the capability of their machines and
themselves, and because it will allow those who reach this level of
skill to continue competing.
    3.  When I flew Advanced in the mid-80s the Unknowns were similar in
difficulty to Intermediate Knowns, and I thought that was good.  In
contrast, at a recent Nationals the Unknown contained a figure that was
considered by many to be unflyable in an S-2B.  I think this "category
creep" in Advanced Unknowns has occurred largely to keep Advanced
similar to the sequences used at the Advanced World Championship.
Sporting Unlimited should be a great category for AWAC aspirants to hone
their skills, and this should make it possible to have a less daunting
jump from Intermediate to Advanced.  Another benefit is that it should
be possible to ensure that sequences for Advanced do not require
exceeding the -3g limit of many of the certified planes that naturally
inhabit the category.

Objectives and Rules for Sporting Unlimited
    Fifteen to 25 years ago, Unlimited was challenging for the very best
pilots in the world flying Pitts Specials and 4 cylinder monoplanes.
The objective of Sporting Unlimited is to provide that degree of
challenge for the numerous current owners of these aircraft, while
keeping differences between Unlimited and Sporting Unlimited to the
minimum necessary to allow a well flown Pitts S-1S to be competitive in
the Sporting Unlimited category.
    The Unlimited Known would be the basis for the Sporting Unlimited
Known.   Changes would be made by the IAC Board as required to make the
sequence flyable in a Pitts S-1S.
    All rules governing the Unlimited Free would apply to the Sporting
Unlimited free, with the exception that no bonus would be given for
short sequences.
    Unknowns for Sporting Unlimited could be drawn from the bank of
sequences used in Unlimited from 1975 to 1990.  Eligible figures for new
Unknowns would be defined by the Unlimited Unknown list.  Rules for
sequence design would be those for the Unlimited Unknown, with the
limitation that the sequences be flyable by a Pitts S-1S.
    The 4 Minute Free Program would not be used in Sporting Unlimited.

Letter I sent to Rob Dorsey, explaining my personal reasons for
disappointment with the latest changes to rules for Unlimited.
    Apparently Rob used this letter as the basis for a review of
Unlimited, and the Board decided it didn't want to split Unlimited into
two categories.  However, he encouraged me to try again with a formal
proposal for a rule change.  As this letter was part of a longer
discussion about the legality of the rule change that brought bonus
points to the Unlimited free, I've edited it for pertinence.


From your reply, it is clear to me that you do not understand that a
grass roots competitor like myself can progress to the point that only
something as complex as Unlimited is adequately challenging.  I have no
interest in World competition.  I just want to keep experiencing the
of challenging competition.  I need both challenge AND competition to
it worthwhile.   Advanced is trivial to fly in my Pitts.   Practicing to

improve my Advanced scores by another percent provides no fascination
little challenge.  I can't justify the time or the cost of maintaining
negative g tolerance to fly only in Advanced, whereas I could fly
another 10
years in Unlimited and continue to find plenty of challenge.  But you're

taking it away from me, and unlike previous generations of leaders who
retained a challenging category for outclassed equipment, you're not
me a category to continue to compete in.  Giving monoplane pilots a 300
point bonus in the Free just for having more horsepower and, with the
in IAC attitude to Unlimited, inevitably a 200 or 400 point bonus
they can fly through every Unknown without interruption, means that I
can no
longer hope to win a contest.  I haven't won many, but I have placed
than at least 50% of the monoplanes I've flown against in the past 12
in Unlimited (in approximately 16 contests, the majority in Canada).
the new rules, I would have placed behind every one of those monoplane
pilots.  Once the competition aspect is removed, why should I compete?

 I'm writing this in the hope that IAC might see that catering to the
valid needs of a dozen WAC aspirants doesn't
have to be done to the exclusion of grassroots pilots who want
Unlimited-style challenge in limited aircraft, and to the disappointment
newcomer owners of such planes who might otherwise aspire to learn to
their planes as well as they can be flown.  The happiness of Sportsman
pilots while telling me how inspirational they found their first time on
judging line while I was my flying my S-1S in Unlimited is one of the
I'll miss about the sport.  Maybe that happiness is the opposite side to
of the reasons for the declining membership that you find so puzzling.

Allan Franko

Attachement 1: part2.html


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