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U.S. Nationals Concludes in Texas

By Mike Heuer

October 6, 2016 - The 2016 U.S. National Aerobatic Championships came to a close at the North Texas Regional Airport (KGYI) in Denison, Texas, on Friday, September 30, and the competition was a resounding success. Altogether, 89 pilots in nine competition categories flew, both in powered aircraft and gliders. Twenty of the competitors were glider pilots, mostly from the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

The contest was held under the direction of Gary DeBaun who devoted most of the last year organizing the event assisted by an outstanding staff of dedicated and experienced volunteers. Bob Harris was assistant contest director, the jury was headed by Bob Meyer, and chief judges were Charlie Harrison, Lynne Stoltenberg, Hector Ramirez, and Kevin Campbell. Starters were Dennis Parks and Jon Elam.

These men and women were supported by a very active staff of volunteers working in key areas including Kathleen Moore, registration; Ellyn Robinson and Alice Johnson, volunteer coordinators; Carol Brinker, scoring director; Evan Peers and Kate DeBaun, photographers; Forrest Fox, videographer; Tim Brill, safety director; Monique Hartmann, social media director); Robbie Sturm, boundary judge coordinator; and countless other people who pitched in to staff the judging line, set up the judges stations, do technical inspections on airplanes, and so on. Jury members were Mike Heuer, Peggy Riedinger, Bill Gordon, Tom Adams, and Doug Sowder. It was IAC members at their best.

The new U.S. National Aerobatic Champion is Rob Holland of Nashua, New Hampshire, flying his beautiful MXS-RH. This was Rob’s sixth consecutive win of the national title. He went on to win the Four Minute Freestyle event at the end of the contest as well. Rob takes home the Mike Murphy Trophy, one of aerobatics’ most prestigious awards.

U.S. National Glider Aerobatic Champion is Eric Lentz-Gauthier of Davis, California flying an MDM Fox. This was Eric’s second consecutive win of the national title and he took home the Les Horvath Trophy.

With all of the flying going on in all of IAC’s categories, selection for three U.S. Aerobatic Teams was also in progress. Team pilots are selected based on their standings at Nationals. The 2016-2018 U.S. Unlimited Team consists of Rob Holland, Bob Freeman, Mike Ciliberti, Mike Gallaway, Mark Nowosielski, Jim Bourke, Craig Gifford, and Tim Just. For the glider teams, Eric Lentz-Gauthier and Jason Stephens were selected for the Unlimited Glider Team and Guy Acheson and Mallory Lynch qualified for the Advanced Glider Team.

The Unlimited Team (in power) will compete at the 29th FAI World Aerobatic Championships in South Africa in 2017. The championships are slated to be held at Hoedspruit, South Africa, on August 16-26. The airfield is a joint civil and military base and is home to a South African Air Force helicopter unit. Hoedspruit is in the Limpopo province and about 280 miles northeast of Johannesburg.

The Glider Teams will compete in Torun, Poland, which has hosted previous world championships. Details were not available at the time of this writing as the final bid for the event is to be reviewed by CIVA when it meets in November in Bucharest, Romania.

This was the last year Nationals will be held in Texas as in 2017 it will move to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, September 24-29.

Nationals Results

The other category winners at Nationals were as follows:

Power Categories

Primary – Nick Meyer, Grand Forks, Nebraska (Decathlon)

Sportsman – Cory Johnson, Dodgeville, Wisconsin (Pitts S-1C)

Intermediate – David Taylor, Superior, Colorado (Staudacher S600)

Advanced – Aaron McCartan, Burt, Iowa (S-330P)

Glider Categories

Sportsman – Merrick Isley, USAF Academy, Colorado (DG1001)

Intermediate – Trevor Rogers, USAF Academy, Colorado (DG1001)

Advanced – Guy Acheson, Fair Oaks, California (MDM Fox)

It should be noted that non-U.S. citizens are not eligible for national titles. But we would be remiss if we did not mention the two pilots who ranked at the top of their categories but could not claim the champion titles in those categories. Luke Penner was the top placing pilot in Sportsman (power) and hails from La Broquerie, Manitoba, Canada. Top ranking pilot in Intermediate (glider) was Khorn Soonthonnitikul (also known as “Soon”) of the U.S. Air Force Academy. He is an exchange cadet at the academy from Thailand and placed first last year in Sportsman (glider).

Complete results are available online listed by category. Each pilot’s scoresheet can also be viewed by clicking on his or her results for each flight program.

Other Nationals Awards
IAC recognizes achievement at Nationals in various ways and the following awards were presented at the award ceremonies on Friday, September 30.

Mitchell Oswald of Grand Forks, North Dakota (Decathlon): Highest Placing First Time Sportsman
Presented to the Sportsman pilot with the highest percentage of points possible who is competing for the very first time in IAC-sanctioned competition.

David Taylor of Superior, Colorado (Staudacher S600): The Fred Leidig Trophy
Presented to the winner of the Intermediate (power) category.

Aaron McCartan of Burt, Iowa (S-330P): The MT Propeller Trophy: Advanced
Presented to the winner of the Advanced (power) category.

Cory Johnson of Dodgeville, Wisconsin (Pitts S-1C): Grass Roots Medallion
Presented to the highest scoring pilot in any category, measured in overall percentage, who flies an aircraft of 180 hp or less, or more than 180 hp if the 75 percent cruise speed is less than 125 mph.

Bill McLean of Daleville, Alabama, 75 years old (RV-4), third place overall in Sportsman: Chuck Alley “Old Buzzard” Award
Presented to a pilot at Nationals who is 65 years old or greater and in honor of Chuck Alley, an IAC member who was still competing at age 85. This award can only be received once.

Luke Penner of La Broquerie, Manitoba, Canada (Pitts S-2B), first place in Sportsman: The Goodrich Trophy
Presented to the highest-scoring non-U. S. citizen in the highest category flown at Nationals.

Chapter 78 in Minneapolis, Minnesota: Chapter Team Trophy
Presented to the Chapter whose top three pilots achieve the highest overall percentage.
Note: Chapter 78 had 12 pilots competing at Nationals.

Tim Brill of Reno, Nevada: Safety Award
The Safety Award winner is chosen by the contest director and is presented to an individual who displays a personal commitment to safety at the Nationals.
Note: Tim Brill also serves as IAC’s Safety Chairman.

Trevor Rogers from the USAF Academy, Colorado (DG1001), Intermediate Glider: The John Serafin Trophy
Awarded to the glider pilot with the highest percentage of points possible in the Free Program. It is open to all glider categories.
Note: Free Programs were not flown in Glider Advanced or Unlimited categories this year. Only Free Knowns and Unknowns were flown as these were team selection categories.

Rob Holland of Nashua, New Hampshire (MXS-RH): The Bob Schnuerle Trophy
Presented to the winner of the Unlimited Four Minute Freestyle.

IAC President’s Awards
IAC President’s Awards were presented to a number of well-deserving individuals at the awards ceremonies and banquet held at the conclusion of Nationals. These individuals were as follows:

Mike Plyler, Sherman, Texas
IAC Chapter 24, The Lone Star Aerobatic Club
Doug Lovell, Broomfield, Colorado
Anna McKinney, Denison, Texas
Wayne Roberts, Grenada, Mississippi

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