WAG Blog #4 - 21 August 2009

Today was the first use in an actual competition of the QinetiQ radar tracking system and it works like a charm. The Jury members have observed it several times in operation but it is quite another situation to view it tracking flights for the first time in a WAC. The system is being controlled in a small office staffed by several men whose duties are carefully defined and professionally carried out. One is watching the flight from this tower office, another (Stephen Madle, author of the software) is monitor the flight on 3 computer monitors, and another is picking up the sheets from Stephen and communicating the box outs and the height infringements to the Chief Judge’s Assistant, John Gaillard, who certifies the results.

For the first time in my 44 years of attending aerobatic competitions, we have a totally accurate and reliable way of not only recording box infringements, but measuring height accurate to the meter. One of the offshoots of this is pilots will now be called out “high” – a rare occurrence in all of the competitions I have attended throughout the years. Just this afternoon, one pilot received "high" height penalties four times during his flight. I am sure he will not be happy, yet the fact remains, these penalties are called for in our rules and pilots seeking some sort of energy and height advantage will not be able to do so "free of charge" in this competition. After officiating at previous Championships in which Line Judges were deleted or worse yet, unreliable, it is a pleasure to have such a system in operation, to insure the best results for everyone and a fair and objective Championships.