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ACRO E-mail Archive Thread: [IAC-L:1002] Re: 1 Class/1 Design (long)

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ACRO E-mail Archive Thread: [IAC-L:1002] Re: 1 Class/1 Design (long)


Thread: [IAC-L:1002] Re: 1 Class/1 Design (long)

Message: [IAC-L:1002] Re: 1 Class/1 Design (long)

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From: Don Peterson <autotech at>

Date: Thu, 18 Sep 1997 01:56:35 UTC


 I have had the pleasure of competing (twice) in an actual one design contest which has 
been held now for 22 years.  To my knowledge, no one involved in the planning of the IAC 
one design concept bothered to visit or research the above mentioned event in the hope 
that they might learn something about how things actually turn out under this plan. 
Needless to say, after more than two decades, the concept has been pretty well refined. 
This is not to say that we will end up with a mess, just an editorial on the way things 
often happen in a not-for-profit club where leadership is primarily a function of 
volunteerism rather than proven qualifications.  The law of unintended consequences 
tends to be an absolute.

In any case, I have a few observations...

It definitely adds something to a competition when only one type is flying.  Very small 
nuances in ability become apparent, and aid in the selection of the true "best pilot".  
When power and performance is not only identical, but rather limited, skill becomes 
paramount.  In fact, when these items are identical, they cease to be a point of concern 
entirely.  The focus shifts from basic maneuver geometry to making the best overall 
"presentation".  It is a more pleasant ground on which to compete, and I feel more 
rewarded by meeting an artistic challenge than just a mechanical one.

When all aircraft are identical, the contest organizers can refine the required 
sequences to a very fine degree.  As followers of my occasional posts know, I am big 
proponent of making our sequences harder.  The most common debate against this is on the 
basis of "fairness" to lower performance aircraft.  In the above one-design contest, the 
organizers have developed sequences that are right up at the edge of the aircraft's 
ability, without overstressing it.  Again, the very best pilots can negotiate these 
challenges while the less prepared end up having troubles that subtract from the score. 
I have never heard the judges' scores seriously challenged.  There tends to be a bit 
more spread in the scores as a result of this approach.

The paint schemes don't matter one whit.  Every aircraft is painted differently at the 
above contest, and it is a factor which simply disappears once the aircraft are in the 
air.  Truly identical aircraft (these are all factory/production aircraft) fly so 
similarly, that a judge's trained eye becomes attuned to the rhythms and motions of the 
airframe.  At least in this event, the local club favorite has been beaten several years 
in row now, and I can see no signs of favoritism being given to the judges' countrymen 
(an Englishman won this French contest for two years running, now).  It is hard to 
believe that our judges would be more prone to home-town hero worship than the French.  
On a regional level, I believe strongly in the fairness of IAC judges.  It is the lack 
of concensus on the judging criterion that creates so much unfortunate scatter (at the 
regional level).  This is not a favoritism or fairness issue.

It will clearly be many years before a single class contest is held.  In my view, the 
true benefits of this idea will not be realized until a true one-type contest is 
convened.  There is no value in anonymity, as some posters have suggested.  There is 
GREAT benefit in throwing up one identical aircraft after another, flying a sequence 
that demands much of the aircraft, and is a true test of the pilot.

And no, the Pitts just doesn't make it on this score.  There are so many variations and 
performance differences that any effort to organzize a "one design" contest would 
collapse under the burden of debate as to what should be allowed.  Again, the judging 
benefit of true "one-performance" is striking, once you have seen it.  Plus, the Pitts 
is just so small that many of the nuances that I mention tend to get lost in the 
angry-bee blur.

But that's just my opinion.

Don Peterson
Midlothian, Tx.


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