WAC Blog #9 - 24 August 2009

Yesterday, we held a meeting of the Team Managers at 10.00 which was followed by a meeting of the International Jury and Bureau of CIVA. With the unanimous agreement of the Team Managers, the decision was taken to continue the World Aerobatic Championships as a tribute to Vicki Cruse. She would most certainly have wanted us to continue, there is no doubt in my mind. So the Championships will carry on. The organizers, particularly Steve Green and Alan Cassidy, have been liaising with Silverstone officials in addition to providing their input to the International Jury on the conduct of the competition from this point on. The following decisions were taken by the Jury and are excerpts from a Jury Policy Letter that was circulated to all concerned at about 18.00 last night: Flight Programmes We will resume on Monday, 24 August, with the remaining pilots in Programme Q.

The Contest Director has informed the Jury that we cannot fly until Monday afternoon but with favorable weather and an extended flying period into the evening, we should be able to finish Q tomorrow. Briefing is set for 11.30 this morning and the first flight at 13.00. On Tuesday, we will begin Programme 1 (the Free Programme). Judges’ lunch breaks will be reduced and the operating hours will be extended in the evening. In accordance with Section 6, Part 1, rule, we will reverse the order of flight and fly the highest ranking pilots first (Group 3), then followed by Group 2, and then 1. The Order of Flight will be randomized within each Group by the ACRO scoring program in accordance with the rules. The organizers intend to fly all pilots (all Groups). With acceptable weather and everyone’s cooperation with the Flight Director, the competition will be run as quickly as possible while not compromising safety at any time. However, it must be understood that the Jury’s interpretation of, which states, “The lower ranking groups would fly only if time so permits”, means that Group 1 may be deleted if necessary to complete the World Aerobatic Championships.

This rule clearly means that a “complete” Programme 1, which is referred to in, can be declared even if a Group is deleted. The purpose of these rules is to give us maximum flexibility in completing a Championships and declaring award winners and Champions. While it is always desirable and the objective of officials and organizers to fly everyone, or the maximum number, it is a fact of competition life that steps may have to be taken to reduce the pilot group in order to name Champions. Unfortunately, this means that lower-ranking pilots may not be able to continue in the competition. This is difficult and unpopular, but necessary. Finally, an explanation of why the Jury decided that continuing the Championships with Programme 1 was the best course of action: First of all, this is in accordance with the rules and no waiver of any rule is required. We simply do what we would in the event of weather delays, for example. We always continue with Programme 1. This is what pilots expect to do. But there are other elements to this. We also feel this is the safest thing to do. Everyone is under stress now and sometimes that stress does not manifest itself until well after a tragic event or incident occurs. To fly a Free Programme now, which pilots have carefully prepared for and practiced, would be much less stressful, and therefore safer, than going directly into an Unknown or Free Unknown. In our view, this is our most important priority – to conduct a Championships that is stable, predictable, and what competitors expect. All sorts of rules changes or adjustments only destabilize the event and create a less safe environment. Along these same lines, there will be no changes in other rules. All meteorological limits will be observed. Our operating procedures will stay the same. We will not relax or waive any rules and, therefore, will continue to use what we have in our rules as our guide. This lessens the chance of “unintended consequences” and a stable, safe atmosphere. Programme 4 Some of the Team Managers expressed concerns about Programme 4 and our plans to fly it on Saturday as scheduled. There has been a feeling we are taking time away from the classical competition. If the conditions are suitable for flying this Programme, it will continue on Saturday afternoon, 29 August, as planned. There is also the possibility of continuing classical flights into Saturday morning. But the flying of Programme 4 as a part of the Saturday afternoon public activities will remain. There are contractual obligations in place that must be met. We are cooperating with the Silverstone officials in every way, so it is important this Programme go on as scheduled. The Silverstone officials have been marvelous and it has been easy to work with people who understand motor sports. That said, we do have the possibility of reducing the pilot group to 10 in the Final Freestyle and the Jury will exercise that option if necessary in accordance with the rules and by the procedures laid down in my previous Policy Letter on pilot selection for Programme 4. When we talk about consequences, keep in mind there is an additional advantage of flying Group 1 first in Programme 1. This places top-ranking pilots much earlier and therefore we have less chance of problems with the “6 hours between flights” rule that we have in Section 6, if we continue flying into Saturday morning. I know there are probably as many ideas out there on what could be done as there are people. But it is time to get on with the Championships and let the organizers continue to do the wonderful job they have so far in running this competition. I have been honored to work with everyone here and I ask you give them your continuing support and understanding. Their job is difficult and exhausting but they are totally dedicated to safety, to the completion of this Championships, and the best competition possible.