Rob Holland and Jason Stephens
Taking Unlimited by storm!
By Reggie Paulk, Editor – In the Loop
(Editor's Note: The following story originally appeared in the September 2013 issue of Sport Aerobatics magazine. This is just a teaser, but members may log in to www.IAC.org and read the archived piece there.)
Many in the aerobatic community are unaware that we crown two Unlimited champions at nearly every U.S. National Aerobatic Championships; one for Unlimited Power and another for Unlimited Glider. We normally focus on the power champion in these pages, but this time we wanted to do something different. For this story, we had a conference call with both Jason and Rob.
Nearly everyone involved in aviation in some form or fashion has heard of Rob Holland - especially those who've been fortunate enough to watch him fly one of his air show routines. The 2013 Nationals contest would mark Rob's second win and garner him a spot on the coveted U.S. Unlimited Aerobatic Team, competing in the World Aerobatic Championships on our home turf in Texas.
Few people outside of the aerobatic and gliding communities have heard of Jason Stephens, which is pretty amazing considering he won the Unlimited Glider category for the fourth time last year. Jason did mention that he gets mistaken for Rob Holland occasionally, which he thinks is quite funny considering that Rob is quite a bit taller (and more clean shaven) than he is.
Both men approached the Nationals with a full plate; Rob earns a living flying air shows, and Jason earns his running Estrella Sailport south of Phoenix, Arizona. For Rob, finding time to practice for Nationals had to come between one of 25 air shows he flew last year.
"It was a matter of managing my time and taking a week here and there brain-dumping the air show flying and concentrating on competition flying," says Rob. "I spent a week and a half or so before Nationals just getting ready for competition. I took about two and a half weeks total to fly there."
In addition to flying for the title of Unlimited Power champion, Rob's main pursuit was to get onto the U.S. Unlimited Aerobatic Team.
"I'm excited to be back on the team again," he says. "It's always an honor to represent the USA. It's especially exciting when we have the World team in the U.S. and have the home-field advantage. I'm looking forward to practicing with the team this year. I love the fact that Nationals is right before the Worlds. What better setup than to have Nationals at the place where you're going to have the Worlds? Everything is set up and in place for us to do really well. We just need to take advantage of it." Visit the International Aerobatic Club website for the rest of the story.