District 2 Vice President:
Hi everyone. I'm Tim Pritchett, and I've recently taken the reigns as D2VP to complete Terry T.'s tenure for 2017. I enjoyed flying pattern in the 80's and 90's as a 'younger man' until life took over. After a 23year hiatus, I began flying again in 2015, and attended my first NATS in 2016.
As we all know, Pattern is on the decline. Most of this has nothing to do with Pattern, per se, but the whole hobby/industry is doing the same thing, and Pattern is just along for the ride. We'll all have to be vigilent, and active, not only in flying competitions, but in being ambassadors and leaders in the sport. That means PROMOTION! This year will be dedicated to discussions, planning, and activating as many new initiatives as we can to get our numbers moving up again. We have an extensive, non-sanctioned pattern series hosted by our local club, that's easily replicated at any flying field in the country. There are plenty of pilots out there who want to improve their aerobatic skills, enjoy competition, or just like the aircraft, that we need to tap into. Any ideas are welcome, and all activity/actions are all in bounds!
PROPS & BRATS
For the past 3 years, Western Carolina RC has hosted a pattern competition series called Props & Brats. From April through October, one competition is held every month. We open and close the season on a Sunday, and the remainder of the contests are held on Thursday's. One of the 'key ingredients' is the "Brats" portion of the events; so named for the cookouts that are held in conjunction with the events. This keeps the local club (150 members) involved even if they don't fly. Basically it's a pot-luck, were the fee is to bring something to share; chips, cookies, drinks, dogs, burgers, brats, etc. The club also contributes with a grill, and usually a cooler of water. Even without the Props attraction, monthly fellowships are a good idea for any local club. The added attraction of watching a competition event usually means there's plenty of spectators, and even some raggin' going on from the pits! - All in good fun!!
Back to the Props - The events are basically non sanctioned, aerobatic fun flys. The time required of the event organizer is roughly 3-4hrs. per month, so not too much. An hour of prep., and 2-3hrs. of running the event is about it. The 'key ingredient' for this side of the event is to KEEP IT SIMPLE! We don't get caught up in lots of beauracracy, or administration, computer time, etc., and really can't afford it. The events are informal, seat of the pants affairs, where we've had zero to 8 pilots show up, and have to be 'agile' in accommodating whatever comes. So, here's what the execution looks like:
The schedule is determined before the season begins. Lots of dates change due to weather (1 rain date per event) unforseen conflicts, etc. are anticipated, so staying in touch with the club secretary to send updates is important. Thursdays are designated 'practice' days, where AMA competitors should be on hand to train, instruct, and guide. Lots of times, just the P&B competitors show up and just help each other - very encouraging! The schedule is shared with local clubs to generate interest, and get on their calendars.
Events are a 3 round affair. Club (formerly Novice), Sportsman, and Intermediate classes are offered. Each pilot can select which class to fly in at every event, but points may be jeapordized by 'jumping' classes too much. The top two round scores are kept, and each event winner is handed a signed certificate acknowledging his win. These are created by a simple internet search for 'certificates', screenshot, printed out, and signed by the event coordinator (CD).
A pilot's meeting is held to initiate each event. Typical welcome, explanation and status of the series, and event flow are covered. Pilots are instructed to retrieve a (pre-printed) scoresheet from one of the three clipboards, put their name on it, and proceed when ready to the flight line. After the meeting, the CD enters contenstant names into the computer (excel program). We don't usually class-group to fly, but entire round of all 3 classes is flown at once. That way, if weather or time is a constraint, they all get to fly at least one. They hand the judge their form, execute their round, and retreive the form when complete. They return to the pit, and enter their scores into the program, or, if we have one on hand, the scorekeeper enters the scores. The program is simple
Judging is handled by the most experienced pilots available. One judge per flight. No need to get caught up here either; if no one is available, use a spectator! Anyone willing to do a complete round will suffice. Most of this is done by the CD, and is where he spends most of his time. It's always good to have another set of eyes though, and anyone will do, as long as they know the basics about the sequence & scoring. Judges usually do the calling as well, so be prepared for that.
The championship is determined by carrying normalize points from the best rounds during the season, in each class. 2017 will be the first year that an AMA event will be incorporated in the series: Triple Tree Aerodrome is 20min. away from the WCRC field, so the September event will be held as the sancitoned Palmetto Pattern contest. The points earned from 4 rounds of flying in this event will be counted in the championship, based on how they place against local flyers only. This way, even if they place last in their class, if no other P&B pilots participate, they get 4000 pts. The purpose should be clear: getting our local guys involved with full-on sanctioned events, and all that they entail.
So, this year we'll be expanding the total points available to from 10,000 to 12,000, (6 x 2000: P&B local events, + 4 x 1000: Palmetto Pattern, - 4 x 1000: drops for the season). Although this takes a little time and thought to figure out, it's really not that important! As long as it stays consistant through the season, and guys understand what's going on, then its all good. One thing we'd also like to do is provide visual metrics at the field; a running scoreboard of the championship standings. We'll try to get to that this year as well!
The club leadership provides a spot in their monthly meetings for a P&B update, where the event reports are made, next scheduled event is announced, and a review of who's winning. Our leadership loves the events, and really supports the series. This last 'key ingredient'; be involved in the local club. Be at the meetings, attend other events. We pattern flyers love our solitude, but that's contrary to growing the sport. The event leader must be a visible, active club member, contributing to others in the sport to pull this off. Aloof-ness will kill this effort. The guys participate because we invite them to, and provide the venue. They fly because they're comfortable with you, and what you're asking them to do. You can't just be the best flyer around; they have to trust you, like you, and be willing to follow you. And, that's all up to .....YOU!
April 1 - Judging Seminar Leesburg, VA : Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve.
April 22 - 23 Green Sea, SC
May 6 - 7 Monroe, NC
May 20 - 21 Bealeton, VA
June 10 - 11 Harrisonburg, VA
July 23-29 - NATS, Blytheville AR
August 26 - 27 Culpeper, VA
September 16 - 17 Triple Tree, Woodruff SC
September 30 - Oct 1 Hollywood, MD
October 21 - 22Green Sea, SC
2017 Championship determination