Acro Image

Aerobatics Server


[International Aerobatic Club] [Communications] [Aerobatics Images]

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

[Usage Statistics]





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

From: Salvadori Luca <lsalvadori at>

Date: Tue, 19 Nov 1996 12:54:31 UTC


Hi IACers,

Since many asked me for this article, I would like to post it in IAC list 
for comments.
I would like aerobatic pilots to discuss over the point in order to find a 
viable solution to many problems we face on both sids of the Ocean.
Hope not to bore you all.

     Luca Salvadori
     Italian Aerobatic Team
     Milan - Italy



SUMMARY: WAC'96, held in an advanced and media-covered Country like the USA, 
clearly demonstrated that, despite intrinsic spectacularity of aerobatic 
flight and professionality and concern of organizers, public and media 
interest remains low. This is in evident contrast with the thousands of 
peoples crowding airshows everywhere in the world: maybe something is wrong 
in rules or conduct of aerobatic events, both national and international? 
This article presents some considerations and sketches some ideas for 
rulemakers. Criticism are welcome, in order to "feel the beat" of the 
worldwide aerobatic community.

Well, I'm not used to give lessons, nor I think to be necessarily right. 
But, having some years experience in Italian National Team and NAC as well 
as contestant pilot, and having many international-level pilots as friends, 
I realized that something is to change in rules if we really wish to survive 
and eventually grow.
Thus, please take the concepts below as first attempt to start a 
brainstorming about, because I want, as you all, aerobatics to grow and 
prospere over the centuries. Amen.
No jokes now. I'm just coming home from Oklahoma City, and I have a beutiful 
memory of WAC and all the stuff around. Organizers were really professional 
and had attention for everything, including public and newspapers, TV, 
radio, opinion-makers and whatever is useful to attract interest. Also, they 
were experienced airshows promoters, and expected huge crowds (as usual for 
them) on the field to have a look to most fascinating aircraft and best 
pilots from all over the world.
Outlook was impressive at first: we are used since years, with rare 
exceptions, to fly to desolated airports near small towns in nice but 
otherwise neglected Countries, clearly showing that cost is paramount. And 
anyway noone of us really ever thought it could be different...
America seemed to have another perspective about, and all were happy. But 
unfortunately, with weather's complicity, scarce public came to see and 
media coverage, despite efforts, was low.
Suddenly, I realized that final effect was same as before. It's no matter of 
organization or Country: the real fact is that aerobatic contest are BORING! 
And it's so evident, when one observes that pilot themselves do not watch 
their collegues but rarely. For what strange a reason a typical 
sport-watcher should go to an airfield and enjoy?
Another fact let me think. I cruised for days along the flight line for duty 
and was frequently asked by peoples of the public about the contest. 
Frequent questions were: "Who's winning?", "Where are standings exposed?", 
"Why there is no electronic display?", "Where I find information?", "What's 
happening now?".
In most cases, I was unable to answer precisely, nor anyone could be able to 
do right then, and my interlocutor grumbled disappointed, while I got red 
for the shame.
I react fiercely to this negative situation, and express the following as 
key issues for the future of aerobatics:
1 - We need people, watching at least, if not flying.
2 - If peoples come to see, TV and other stuff follow.
3 - If media watch, peoples watch.
4 - If peoples watch, money (through sponsors) follows.
5 - People come if they understand what's on and can emotively participate.
Above concepts are quite simple, but need care to be realized.
First problem is, for me, the Tarasov-Bauer-Long scoring method. This is an 
elegant, very elegant (I understand it, having studied mathematics for 
years) statistical method to avoid judgement bias and neutralize any 
possible effect of "patriotism".
But it has dramatic defects:
* IT NEEDS ALL PILOTS SCORES before producing any number. If a flight spans 
over three days, as happens usually, you must say the public "Please come 
back thursday". All are used to real-time scores even in "judged" sports as 
ditching or skating (remember Atlanta) and get astonished.
* RESULTS OF ALL PILOTS ARE CORRELATED. Changing one pilot's score affects 
the others. I submitted this year a protest for one of my pilots, and won: 
standings were changed and my pilot climbed well (even remaining in lowest 
positions), but second in ranking became suddenly fourth, fourth became 
third, and so on. Nothing was happened but a paper-storm, and someone lost a 
medal another won.
Another key problem is that contests are too long (mainly the international 
ones). You cannot reasonably believe public to be interested in a boring 
event for 2 weeks.
Finally, flights are quite similar for an unexperienced watcher: it's 
difficult to distinguish an error even for a skilled judge...
Now, after such a pitiful prolusion, let me present some practical ideas.
* BAUER IS TO BE CANCELED. Change it with another method suitable for 
real-time presentation and standings construction on-the-fly.
* CONTEST ARE TO BE SHORTENED. Less duration, less costs both for pilots and 
organizers, as well less problems in keeping the people interested.
* CONTEST MUST BE EASIER TO UNDERSTAND. Public must understand who's the 
best. No tricks, no obscure technicism in a spectacular display of skill.
All above can be achieved the following way:
* SIMPLIFIED SCORING METHOD. In Italy, having no legions of judges, we use 
since 2 years a simplified method (we call it Mini-Bauer) where highest and 
lowest scores are discarded FIGURE BY FIGURE, and not JUDGE BY JUDGE at the 
end. This way, judge is free to vote as he wishes without worrying about the 
others. Pilots are happy, judges too, there is no correlation among results, 
calculation is simple and may be performed even by hand. Software is 
available and tested (find it on the Internet at
* NO MORE UNKNOWN PROGRAM. Let only known and free, and include 4' Freestyle 
(for top-scorers only as now) as final event awarding the absolute champion, 
because 4' Freestyle is the most spectacular and easy-to-understand program 
as well the most challenging for pilots.
* NO MORE BOX PENALTIES. Less staff (boundary judges), less costs. 
Furthermore, a box infringement kills a good flight without reason, and 
obliges pilots to pull high g to stay inside with modern, fast aircraft thus 
endangering safety. Wait for IAC g-survey (hope soon) results and see.
Finally, add a good speaker (as my friend Gordon Bowman-Jones has been in 
OKC), a real-time computer system with display for public (not impossible to 
do even with limited budget, I'm sure), carefully polish all aircraft, shake 
well... and serve hot for next WAC.
I won't bother you any longer: just remember to speak about, even badly, and 
let me know through Sport Aerobatics' columns.
Fly High!

Luca Salvadori
Italian Aerobatic Team
17, Monte Rosa Str.
20149 Milano - Italy
Ph. +39-2-4983127
Fax +39-2-92162482
Email: lsalvadori at



© Dr. Günther Eichhorn
Email Guenther Eichhorn