Get Into Aeros, 2022 results

Contest Director's Report, from John Royce

John's combined report for Get Into Aeros 2022 and the results from the Get Into Aeros event and the Cavendish Hotel Trophy contest for Advanced pilots can be found on the BAeA Cavendish Hotel contest report page here: Cavendish Trophy, 2022 results | British Aerobatics 

Here's how it all went for G-EEEK instructor Laura Russel -

With CAVOK skies, G-EEEK and I set off on the epic expedition North. Of course, with 30 knot tailwinds, the expedition only took 15 minutes. Fenland found, I parked up and made my way to the nervous gathering of budding aerobatic pilots. After a roll call and introductory briefing from the gurus, my students and I gathered around a table in the lovely Runways Restaurant & Bar. Over a hard-won cup of tea, we formed our plan for the next two days. With the Cavendish trophy running in parallel, we had a slow start to the day which allowed plenty of time for ground briefing. It occurred to me that these Get Into Aeros pilots were undertaking a significant task. None of my team held the aerobatic rating, and one of the instructors remarked to me later that day that this event was like compressing the entire syllabus into two half-hour flights.

After the Advanced pilots had flown their Known sequences, it was our turn. The format for our initial flight was a training session away from the airfield followed by a box flight at the airfield. Each of the instructors had mutually agreed individual training locations away from the airfield which posed the least nuisance to other traffic and were distant from noise sensitive areas.

House rules laid down (empty pockets, “you have control” – “I have control” discipline, and don't mention the sick bag!) I launched with my first victim, Ollie, who was taking a much-needed break from ATPL exam study for the weekend. For each student, we began with the competition loop and if things were going nicely, we moved onto the Cuban 8. Nailing that symmetrical pull-up is tricky - looking in the right place at the right time is half the answer. The other half of the answer is using two hands... Same goes for entering the stall turn. I was also reminded of how "off" the sighting device is for the front seat driver. A gentle nudge to set the vertical perfectly for my eyes - let the front-seater take a mental picture - and then onto the trickiest bit: the rudder timing and the crafty stickwork during the rotation. The aerobatic turn was a breeze, so the next obstacle was the slow roll. Of course, we can cheat and just ... whack the controls over to full aileron deflection. But we are aiming to be sky gods and we really must make some dignified effort at rudder work

On the way back to the airfield, Ollie didn't feel wonderful, so we canned his box run and landed. Sick bag supply replenished, Theo was next to strap in. After a spirited training session, we returned to the box to see what these 30 knot winds would do to our positioning. We landed after a healthy sequence from Theo and next was Jamie. Jamie, a helicopter pilot having recently upgraded to commander, took to it like a duck to water. Exhilarated after the box flight, we landed and after the usual hot start debacle, I took off with Chris for the final training flight of the day. After a long day of hurry-up-and-wait, Chris did some beautiful flying. Good students make an instructor’s life so easy.

Saturday night was a blur, not because I am a party animal, but because I slept for what seemed like 12 hours. After a delicious breakfast (thank goodness), we readied G-EEEK for another day of hard graft. Sunday’s weather was stunning, with no cloud-base issues. However, it had gotten even windier overnight, so positioning was to be in the spotlight again for the day. Team G-EEEK practiced the sequence walk-through noting where to look, the appropriate counting required to combat the wind and the visual and audio queues for the stall turn. Ollie’s training flight had been cut short previously, so we opted to do an expeditious trial run of the sequence away from the field before returning for the box flight. A super bit of flying was logged by him and despite off-heading errors over the top of the loop and Cuban 8, a sense of immense achievement was apparent. Further hot start calamities ensued and combined with the Advanced pilots needing to fly unknowns, the next flight with Theo began after lunch. With business-like wing rocks and matter-of-fact line pops from Theo he came away with a 77.825%. Next to drive was Chris who seemed to fly effortlessly through the sequence – obviously apparent to the judges who awarded him 84.16%. The final box flight was Jamie who had the A-axis, the judges’ orange flag, the judges’ cars, the mid-box hedge, the farmyard, and probably the horses in the barn to the south all under scrutiny from the moment we left the ground! What a thrill to observe quality flying! 87.890% was the well-earned reward.

Chuffed at my students, awed by the celebrity presence of Mr Lamb, I watched as prizes and accolades were awarded – reminded once again that aerobatics is simple, but not easy. My thanks to the organisers of a wonderful event, Fenland Airfield for putting up with the chaos, and these new aerobatic pilots who I hope come back for more.

Thank you students - I had a really great time too!

And from Alex Truman in G-IILX -

Fenland was really my first proper exposure to GIA, I had taken Pitts TR to Sleap the previous year but due to low cloud and a plug issue with G-BTTR never made it into the box.

When I first had the format described to me I thought it was bonkers! Take a complete tyro and in half an hour teach them several different manoeuvres, some relatively difficult, then give them a go in the box.

However - it turned out not to be bonkers at all, the students I had all managed to fly passable sequences, either in practice or in the box, or both.

The very windy weather we had over the weekend did make positioning hard for a couple of them but never mind, as an introduction to competition aerobatics I thought it was a great success with a lot of enthusiasm shown by all. I certainly enjoyed myself and hopefully they did too.

And from Dave Hall in G-BTTR -

Having myself started at a similar event as a competitor a few years ago, it’s a real pleasure to come back as an instructor and give some pilots their first taste of competition aerobatics, and often their first aerobatics at all!  It sounds a tall order to teach an inexperienced aerobatic pilot the 5-figure Club level sequence, to be able to fly it in an airfield overhead, within one flight – but this event format has been proved to work and has ignited the aerobatic desires of many pilots who have gone on to other things.

This year I was instructing in the Ultimate Aerobatics Pitts S2A, G-BTTR, but we also brought our Extra 330LX with us (flown by Alex Truman, as above). I have flown this Pitts for several years, and get a real kick out of teaching others in it.  Anyone’s first trip in a Pitts is an awesome experience, so to also teach the student to fly competition aeros generally leaves their minds blown, and more often than not craving more. This year was no exception and I was really impressed with the overall standard of flying, and how quickly all of my students picked things up. Fingers crossed, many of the GIA participants will be back to do some more training with us or with one of the other, also excellent, competition aerobatic schools in the UK.  Just remember to pull straight!

And finally from Julian Murfitt and the Slingsby T67 G-ICRM ...

This year's Get into Aero's gave us the opportunity to fly at Fenland which turned out to be a great venue (even though the fuel price was extortionate at £2.81 per litre)

It’s a busy little airfield, with pleasure flights and local training operations increased by our budding aerobatic newcomers and some seasoned advanced pilots. This all made for an exciting and buzzing environment for me to take my allocated students to new heights.

It has to be said that having 35minutes to introduce 5 aerobatic figures to a pilot with zero experience of unusual attitude flying is a fantastic challenge. Fantastic because while it is a difficult job for both student and instructor, the resulting smiles are fantastically rewarding. What is also notable on day two is how their confidence jumps when they have the chance to fly in the box to experience life as a competition pilot. 

In addition to the two instructional flights, what I see is 15 or more pilots talking and sharing ideas, bouncing off each others' enthusiasm learning more than a single instructor can normally share. This is topped off with Nigel Lamb's support where you see these pilots eye's light up in wonder as he tells his stories and journey to the top.

The wind was strong this year, giving the students a little more to think about while they explored the aerobatic box but it did make for an easy landing on a short runway. Fortunately the cloud-base grew to more than 3,000ft - in fact it was a booming soring day for gliders and we even had a Silver C Distance pilot land on his downwind dash from Gransden Lodge ? well done Mike in his LS6. 

A great weekend had by all, and thank you to my students for holding on to their breakfast and making the event truly worth-while!

Get Into Aeros

Rank Pilot Aeroplane Registration Known #2 Totals O/all %
1 Jamie Johnson Extra 200 G-EEEK 571.29 571.29 87.890
2 Chris Unwin Extra 200 G-EEEK 547.02 547.02 84.157
3 Thomas Strong Extra 330LX G-IILX 538.05 538.05 82.777
4 David Curtis Pitts S-2A G-BTTR 534.20 534.20 82.184
5 Will Hewitt Pitts S-2A G-BTTR 529.79 529.79 81.506
6 Elyot Harmston Pitts S-2A G-BTTR 528.58 528.58 81.320
7 Theodore Messinezis Extra 200 G-EEEK 505.87 505.87 77.825
8 Ben Dowler Pitts S-2A G-BTTR 494.49 494.49 76.076
9 Anthony Bostock Slingsby T67M G-ICRM 492.10 492.10 75.708
10 Jessica Waite Slingsby T67M G-ICRM 491.15 491.15 75.561
11 William James Slingsby T67M G-ICRM 470.63 470.63 72.404
12 Conor Avery Extra 330LX G-IILX 404.55 404.55 62.239
13 Dollar Onwusiribe Extra 330LX G-IILX 398.02 398.02 61.234
14 Oliver Slough Extra 200 G-EEEK 371.74 371.74 57.191

Contest Director: John Royce, Contest Chief Judge: Nick Buckenham, Scoring Director: Jennifer Buckenham, Flight Director: Ruth Scott

Judges: J1 - Nick Buckenham, J2 - Ian Scott, J3 - Brian Gleave,

Judges Assistants: Dominic Gleave, Eric Marsh, Jen B

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