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We Need Your Feedback

By Doug Bartlett

Reggie Paulk

At the 2010 U.S. National Aerobatic Championships, several non-U.S. citizens placed well enough to earn awards but weren’t eligible to receive them due to contest rules. IAC President Doug Bartlett declined to extend the honors because it ran counter to IAC policies. In the intervening months, further examination revealed that IAC leadership may change the rules, and Bartlett is seeking input from the membership on if and how the rules should be changed.

I am asking all International Aerobatic Club members to provide input to their directors and officers on an important issue. A few months ago I wrote about the requirements to win flight awards and qualify for national teams at the U.S. National Aerobatic Championships. The requirements are stated in our Policy and Procedures Manual, Section 503.2.C:

“U.S. National titles, trophies, awards and medals will only be awarded to pilots of U.S. citizenship. This does not preclude the creation and awarding of special trophies specifically for non-U.S. citizen competitors at the U.S. Nationals.”

At the 2010 U.S. Nationals, we had many IAC members participating who were not U.S. citizens, but who were living, working, and/or attending school within the country. Several of these IAC members flew well enough to place in the medal standings. They were not given awards due to the above stated policy. Several IAC members and a few of the IAC directors asked me to allow the flight awards to be presented to the non-U.S. citizens. I declined to do so because I had no authority to override the Policy and Procedures Manual.

After the U.S. Nationals, my next step was to determine if the IAC had any authority to change this policy. I contacted the National Aeronautic Association (NAA), which grants the IAC sanctioning rights for aerobatic contests within the United States. The president of the NAA, Jonathan Gaffney, confirmed that the eligibility requirements for our aerobatic awards, including the U.S. National Aerobatic Championships, are set by the IAC leadership and can be modified as we see fit.

Mike Heuer, Commission Internationale de Voltige Aerienne (CIVA) president and IAC historian, provided me with input to help understand the issue. The IAC put this policy in place in the early ’90s when we first had visiting Russian pilots competing at the Nationals. Mike also gathered information on how other countries are addressing the issue. In short, some countries require their award winners to be citizens, while other countries allow legal aliens or residents to be eligible for flight awards.

Knowing that the IAC had the option to change the eligibility requirements, understanding why it was put in place to start, and having data on what other countries were doing, I felt it was an important issue to be discussed and placed it on the agenda at our past fall board meeting.

At the meeting the discussion was lively but friendly as always. Many of the directors felt that the eligibility requirements should be extended to legal residents of the United States but differed on the length and status of the legal residents. All of the officers and directors felt strongly that this issue should receive the attention of all IAC members and that member input should be obtained prior to any change in the policy. The issue was placed on the 2011 spring board meeting for continued discussion and resolution. Non-U.S. citizen award eligibility for the 2011 U.S. National Aerobatic Championships will be determined at this upcoming meeting.

Therefore I am asking all members to weigh in on the discussion of who should and should not be eligible for flight awards at the U.S. National Aerobatic Championships. The best place to respond is on the Oshkosh365 message boards. This is where the officers and directors look for member comments because we can verify the responses are from IAC members. Additionally, you can write the officers and directors directly. The link for Oshkosh365 is available on the IAC website at www.IAC.org. Contact information for IAC officers and directors can be found here. Please provide your input on this important subject.

As always, fly safely and remember that altitude is your friend!

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