BAeA Open Club Event, 2018 results

The main player in the story of this years club event was, yet again, the weather. We had all been watching the forecast eagerly for the past week, and while the week itself was a dead-loss (at least where my aeroplane was sitting) Saturday looked consistently better in the forecasts.

We had a good entry of 13 pilots, nearly all new to competition flying. At least one entrant had never flown any aerobatics before.

I, and the other competition officials arrived at Little Gransden nice and early to a fairly bleak prospect, weather-wise. Cloud-base was about 300-400' and the best forecast from nearby airfields was Luton hoping for a maximum cloud-base for the day of 1500'

Then the phone calls arrived, mostly via Chief Judge Ron Allen, who, it seems, has a better mobile provider than me. One aeroplane was stuck at Waltham, South of the Chiltern ridge. Another socked-in in fog at Connington, another at Goodwood and so on.

We had a few pilots arrive by road, but no aeroplanes. We did a brief briefing, which mostly consisted of "Welcome, and hang on a bit". I confess that I was having severe doubts that any competition flying would take place.

As the day warmed, the weather improved, just a bit. It became good enough for all of the aircraft, except the Super Decathalon (that I was  looking forward to watching fly) from Goodwood, to make it in. Still the cloud sat brooding over the field at about 1200'. It looked as though the Luton forecast was right.

The "match officials", me and Ron, were thinking of cancelling the competition early so that people could at least get some flying done, albeit below 1200' (there were a few people that fancied doing some circuits in the Pitts and the Extra). We held on a bit. We did a full briefing at 12:00 more in hope than expectation.

By 13:00 things looked a little better, by 13:30 it looked flyable in the box, but with low cloud all around. We launched. To be honest, we launched with the expectation that the Club pilots, assisted by their safety pilots, may be able to find some gaps to practice in, but not expecting to be able to do the box flights. 

However, to our surprise, our first pilot, on return from the practice area, reported that while cloud base was only up to 1800' all around us, immediately over the field it was up at about 4k with a only few low clouds occasionally ignoring our NOTAM. So we scored the flight, and continued to operate in the gaps. Only one competitor had to land and have another attempt later. We were incredibly lucky!

Those veteran competitors, G-EEEK and G-ODDS, duelled throughout the day doing sterling service for most of the competitors, ably assisted by safety pilots Emily Collett, Mike Collett and Adrian Willis. In addition we had Piers Herbert (along with safety pilot David Kean) flying a very attractive RV8 and John Longmore in a lovely little Rans S10.

It took us quite a while to get all 11 entrants, who made it to Little Gransden, a scored, critiqued flight in the Box. But by around 16:00 we had done it. This, despite the weather, or perhaps because of the extremely fortuitous local bubble of relatively good viz and cloud-base that hovered over Little Gransden for most of the afternoon. All through this time the weather got better. Every now and then we had to wait for another low cloud to make its way through the box, but by this time I was wishing that I had remembered to bring some sun-screen.

There was some very nice flying, but the delay meant that we didn't think that we could get to fly everyone before the airfield closed and/or other aircraft needed to head home to avoid other airfield closures.

The "match officials" got our heads together again. We decided that the fairest thing was to operate a "cut", but to do it in a way that maximised the chances to get as many pilots as possible a second flight. We agreed a time-based cut-off, and published a flying-order based on the scores of the first-round flights. So the competitors who had done best in the practice flights got to fly first. We expected to be able to fly 4 or 5 people in the time that we had remaining. In the event due to the superb efforts of Adrian, Emily and Mike, and all of the competitors, we ended up flying 8 "competition" flights. Piers and John had already left in their aircraft, so this left out one pilot. 

It ended up being an excellent day and nearly everyone got two judged flights. For the few people that didn't I am very sorry. 

The standard of the flying was good, with several very tidy flights. Everyone had a good day I think. I would like to extend my thanks to the judges and their helpers, Jen keeping the paperwork flowing and the safety pilots who kept a steady stream of flights, adapting on the fly to changes in flying-order and weather all day to get everyone flow. This was a real team exercise and without some real creative thinking I think that fewer people would have got to fly. I would also like to thank all of the entrants. You were also consistently positive, helpful and worked hard to keep the box flights coming thick and fast - thanks to everyone for a good day.

I hope that all of the Club pilots had a good day and hope to see you all at another competition soon.

BAeA Open Club Event - Final

Rank Pilot Aeroplane Registration Known #2 Totals O/all %
1 Vincent van Paemel Extra 200 G-EEEK 600.25 600.25 81.115
2 Caleb Whitehead Extra 200 G-EEEK 576.87 576.87 77.956
3 Roger Ganpatsingh Pitts S-2A G-ODDS 566.28 566.28 76.524
4 Graham Kehily Extra 200 G-EEEK 557.10 557.10 75.284
5 Pedro Tavares Pitts S-2A G-ODDS 546.28 546.28 73.822
6 Robert Lough Pitts S-2A G-ODDS 540.37 540.37 73.022
7 Robbie Conington Pitts S-2A G-ODDS 537.84 537.84 72.681
8 John Power Extra 200 G-EEEK 522.09 522.09 70.552

Contest Director: Dave Farley, Contest Chief Judge: Ron Allan, Scoring Director: JenBuckenham

Judges: J1 - Ron Allan, J2 - Nick Buckenham, J3 - Leif Culpiin, J4 - Chris Sills,

Judges Assistants: Brian McCartney, Phil Massetti, Jex Burgoin

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