The Tony Ayre Blade, 2017 results

After two abortive attempts in 2016 (due to poor weather), the RAF Flying Clubs Association’s (RAFFCA’s) annual Club level event was held last weekend for its third iteration.  The event is run for RAFFCA with significant support from British Aerobatics’ members, and the winner is awarded the Tony Ayre Blade.  Tony won the inaugural event in 2014 but sadly lost his life in a motorcycle accident not long afterwards, so fittingly the trophy is now awarded in his memory;  We were again honoured to host his family and for his mum Joan to be able to present the trophy when the time came.  

Based around the same format as the British Aerobatics Club Open event, each competitor has two flights.  The first flight is designed to be longer – a local area training flight at the end of which the sequence is flown in the overhead for a judged critique.  On the second flight the student flies the sequence only in the overhead, with the instructor now acting only as safety pilot.  This scores from the second flight form the competition results.  However, the weather also gets a vote!

After a stunning blue-sky day on Friday, the competition day briefing was met with low cloud and a somewhat undecided forecast for the day.  After the main briefing, the instructors briefed their students and introduced them to their aircraft, and then we waited! By late morning, as often seems to be the way at competitions we were looking out on brighter weather in all directions except right in our overhead.  With the morning flights intended to form a training serial, and with weather away from the airfield suitable for this, it was decided to begin flying.  After the first four competitors had flown, the cloud base over the airfield had also decided to be kind to us and so the remainder from that point were able to complete their critiqued flights.  The first four flyers were recycled at the end of the flying programme, to fly in the overhead so that everyone had done so once.

Unfortunately, having had weather delays at the start of the day it was not possible to conduct a second flight each.  Without the opportunity to complete the full format within the available time, it was decided to declare the scores from the first flight as the results for the day.

The standard of flying was very high, especially given that for many this was their very first experience of aerobatics, with the top 9 pilots all scoring over 70%.  This type of event is intended to act as an introduction to the sport, and with that standard of flying on show it can only be hoped that many of those flying will go on to compete again.

During the day, RAFFCA’s Phil Burgess dropped in to chat to the competitors, officials and guests. Phil has just returned from the World Aerobatics Championships in South Africa, having finished 21st out of 36 – a very impressive performance on the world stage!  Hopefully under his mentorship as RAFFCA Head Coach we will continue to see RAFFCA members move from Club competition up through the levels.  Well done Phil!

During the course of the day it was also possible to fit in a few (non-aerobatic) local area flights for the sponsors of the event, and VIP visitors, in one of RAFFCA’s brand new Tecnam aeroplanes, which have been purchased with the assistance of the RAF Charitable Trust.  These aircraft are used to support the Junior Ranks Pilot Scholarship Scheme (JRPSS), also sponsored by the Trust, through which a number of junior rank RAF personnel are given flying training up to solo standard, or subject to performance and further selection through to the award of a pilot’s licence. The JRPSS is now in its third year and not only were many of this year’s scholars present supporting the logistics of the event, but also some of the initial scheme members from 2 years ago who have since completed their licences were able to compete in the aerobatic competition.  

The awards ceremony concluded the day’s proceedings and thanks go to RAFFCA’s President Air Marshal Sir Chris Harper for awarding the medals and to Joan (Tony’s mum) for presenting the blade itself.  

It’s just left for me to congratulate all of the participants, and especially the medal winners, and to thank all of the helpers, officials, and sponsors for their assistance and support.

Results for the Tony Ayre Blade - 2017 - Final

Rank Pilot Aeroplane Registration Known #1 Totals O/all %
1 Chris Gallagher Extra 200 G-EEEK 543.37 543.37 78.749
2 Ben Gronow Extra 200 G-EEEK 533.76 533.76 77.356
3 Kieran Bye Extra 200 G-EEEK 519.32 519.32 75.264
4 Aaron Garcha Pitts S-2A G-ODDS 519.22 519.22 75.250
5 Andrew Fletcher Pitts S-2A G-ODDS 517.62 517.62 75.017
6 Cameron Bunce Extra 200 G-TWOO 513.94 513.94 74.483
7 Graham Dacres Firefly G-UCRM 494.36 494.36 71.646
8 Billy Spence Extra 200 G-EEEK 493.13 493.13 71.468
9 Kristian Rogers Pitts S-2A G-ODDS 492.76 492.76 71.415
10 Lee Smart Extra 200 G-TWOO 454.87 454.87 65.923
11 Mark Hammond Extra 200 G-TWOO 439.40 439.40 63.681
12 Sam Scott Firefly G-UCRM 432.60 432.60 62.695
13 Ben Wilson Extra 200 G-TWOO 366.31 366.31 53.088
14 Joseph Katerere Firefly G-UCRM 356.98 356.98 51.737
15 Peter Howson Firefly G-UCRM 197.12 197.12 28.568

Contest Director: Chris Sills, Contest Chief Judge: Ian Scott, Scoring Director: Samantha Hewitt

Judges: J1 - Ian Scott, J2 - Eric Marsh, J3 - Dave Farley,

Judges Assistants: Sarah Hardy, Ruth Scott, Jim Dawkins

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