Wednesday, 26 August 2015

2015 Canadian Nationals a huge success!


Aerobatics Canada Chapter 3 chose the Saugeen Municipal Airport in Hanover, Ontario to host the 2015 Canadian National Aerobatic Championships. The competition, held on August 15th and 16th, was able to attract pilots from across the country and the United States, as well as Russell Sneyd who decided to leave his day job in Australia for a few weeks to attend. 

The stars aligned to give reasonably good weather for the contest days, but Friday August 14 (arrival, registration and practice day) proved quite challenging. Thunderstorms moving through southern Ontario, combined with low cloud and low visibility prevented early arrivals, and as a result most contestants got to CYHS but only a few were able to practice in the aerobatic box. Francois Marquis and Luc Martineau flew in from the Montreal area as darkness approached after a very long day of fighting weather. The good thing about all the bad weather was that registration and technical inspections proceeded at a leisurely pace – allowing newbie registrars Lynda Hawkins and Elaine Ernewein to learn on the job. Laura Buescher appeared mid-afternoon and with the help of Carol Granger took over the arduous task of arranging the paperwork.  Most people simply do not realize how important this job is, and contest officials always sigh with relief when these ladies appear.

The contest’s starter Hella Comat, and judge Chris Pulley drove to the airport instead of flying because of unscheduled engine overhauls on their airplanesSeveral Chapter 3 members were also unable to attend due to maintenance issues, and contest organizers were worried attendance might be very low.  However, Saturday morning’s 0800 briefing showed 17 competitors ready to fly. COPA director Phil Englishman injured his ankle at Oshkosh but hobbled on as contest director and welcomed everyone. Carole Holyk, Canada’s CIVA delegate and FAI judge, acted as Chief Judge and along with Chris, conducted the briefing. Boundary judges, assistant judges and recorder positions were assigned to work for Sandy Langworthy, Wayne Buescher (IAC judges from Michigan IAC Chapter 88) and Canadian judge Chris Pulley.

The Intermediate pilots (Rick Feicht - Calgary - Yak 52; Jeff Granger – Columbus Ohio – Extra 300L; Desmond Lightbody – Oshawa ON – Pitts S2A; Francois Marquis – Montreal – Christen Eagle II; Russell Sneyd – Queensland Aerobatic Chapter Australia – Yak 52) were first to fly the Known, and just as the Sportsman pilots (Terry Beltaos – Burlington ON – Decathalon; Ryan Chapman – Toronto – Decathalon; Larry Ernewein – Innerkip ON – Bucker Jungmann; Jeff Lewis – Oakville ON – Pitts S2C; Luc Martineau – Montreal – Pitts S2C; Charles Phillips – Markham ON – Decathalon; Dan Unger – St. Clair Michigan – Pitts S1S) Known flights were to happen a low cloud layer moved in and stopped operations for 4 hours. This allowed a relaxing lunch that was provided by the airport’s restaurant staff who also catered the Saturday evening banquet and provided very early breakfasts for competitors. Doreen and Gerry Younger made their usual appearance in his Pitts S2A (with Doreen in the open cockpit) and were pleased to see several of the trophies Gerry won during the early days of Aerobatics Canada

When flying resumed we were able to finish all the Knowns and the Intermediate Free before we had to stop for the banquet. First-time competitor Zan Li of Toronto flying a Decathalon was the only Primary contestant; and contest rules mandate a minimum of 2 pilots per category. Officials needed a volunteer to fly against Zan so that she would be able to compete. Dan Unger, who had no idea what the Primary sequence even looked like, stepped up to the plate to help out and didn’t embarrass himself too much! Thank youDan. The Unknowns were handed out to Intermediate and Advanced pilots, and as usual, this put a damper on late-night partying!

Fog greeted us Sunday morning, but went away by the time we started flying and weather was not a factor for the rest of the day. Adam MacCabe, apprentice Aircraft Maintenance Engineer, came to the competition with his tools and spare parts to help with the technical inspections and was prepared for just about anything! His assistance was needed when one of the Pitts had a tire go flat while sitting at the fuel pumps. He was able to install one of the new tubes he had brought (just-in-case…) and keep the plane flying. Adam and his girlfriend Tracy spent the rest of their time out on the boundary judge chairs.

The remaining Free flights were done by 1100 and then the entertainment began with the Unknowns. These sequences are designed to be challenging (read “confusing”) as the pilots have never seen them and are not allowed to practice before they fly them. As soon as they are given out the affected pilots start to study and strategize and lose sleep! The potential for mistakes and/or penalties is huge! The Advanced pilots (Andy Ernewein – Guelph ON – Pitt S1S; Chris Napier – Georgetown Indiana – Panzl S-330; Scott McMaster – Rockton ON – One Design; Hugo Ritzenthaler – Rochester Hills Michigan – Pitts S1E) flights went well with very few “zero” maneuver scores, and the contest finished at 1300. 

Scoring was handled by veteran computer wizard Elaine Ernewein (assisted by Lynda Hawkins) and the results posted by 1330. The awards were completed by 1500 as the American contestants had to depart by that time in order to appease US customs/border officials. Pat Rebbetoy, who is the chapter’s behind-the-scenes organizer and guy who gets everything done, was starter on Sunday and led the clean-up crew (of never-enough people) removing box markers and the judges line equipment.

Aerobatics Canada Chapter 3 would like to thank the Saugeen Airport and the town of Hanover for their support of our contest, and Rob Olds for the use of his beautiful hangarWe would also like to thank the pilots for making the effort to attend despite mother nature, and all our volunteers not already mentioned, including: Ryley Yost  (acting airport manager, box marker installer, and air traffic management guy); 
Sid White (Safety Director)Daryl Purdie, Andrew Ronan, Laura Harvie, Meghan MacNeil, Mary Unger, Mike Tryggvason, Bill Comat, Francois Bougie, James Hutchinson, Victor Danielli, Ethan Kempert (judging assistants and recorders); Ed Agnew and Dave Rumsey (photographers). Apologies to anyone we’ve missed.

Final Standing:

Advanced     1  Andy Ernewein (Canadian Advanced Champion)
                     2  Scott McMaster
                     3  Hugo Ritzenthaler

Intermediate  1  Jeff Granger
                      2  Francois Marquis (Canadian Intermediate Champion)
                      3  Rick Feicht

Sportsman    1  Larry Ernewein (Canadian Sportsman Champion)
                     2  Luc Martineau
                     3  Dan Unger

Primary        1  Zan Li
                     2  Dan Unger


Phil Englishman (right) presenting the Canadian National Sportsman trophy to Larry Ernewein

Phil Englishman (right) presenting the Canadian National Intermediate trophy to Francois Marquis

Phil Englishman (right)  presenting the Canadian National Advanced trophy to Andy Ernewein

Rick Feicht taxiing the Yak 52


Chris Napier in the Panzl S-330

Dan Unger approaching in his Pitts S1S

Andy Ernewein’s Pitts S1S

Hugo Ritzenthaler taxiing his Pitts S1E

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