formerly "The View From Up Here"

Formerly titled "The View From Up Here" this column began in the Liberty Gazette June 26, 2007.

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August 19, 2008 Advanced World Aerobatic Championships

The Liberty Gazette
August 19, 2008

The View From Up Here
By Mike Ely and Linda Street Ely

The Olympics are in full swing in China. In the aviation world, we have what amounts to our own Olympics of Aerobatics, it is called the Advanced World Aerobatic Championships (AWAC) and the 8th annual meet took place in Pendleton, Oregon earlier this month. John Smutny is one of the directors, air show organizer, and Air Boss. He tells us the results are in, with the U.S. Team dominating the competition.

The U.S. team came out ahead with five of the top ten pilots, followed by teams from South Africa, Great Britain, and Canada. U.S.’s Rob Holland was the overall champion amassing 7381.44 points, followed by Hungarian, Tamas Illes, and Eddie Goggins, of Ireland. Brian Dierks, the 20 year old Texan, finished in the middle of the pack in 20th place.

Competitors fly freestyle, known, and unknown routines. Known routines are published and can be practiced all year long. Unknown routines are designed on site by the teams. First each country puts a figure on a whiteboard, then designs a sequence from each of the figures. The teams vote to pick the sequence. They then have 18 hours to look at it before flying the routine. In freestyle competition the performer assembles his/her own aerobatic routine. Straight and exact lines, a perfectly shaped loop, and precise maneuvers win points.

Linda: John Smutny says that although the closing event, the air show, had a few challenges, CIVA (International Aerobatics Commission) called it one of the most well-run contests they’ve seen in a while. “The beginning didn't go as planned, but we made changes on the fly and most people didn't notice the mistakes. It all started when a Horizon Airlines deHavilland Dash 8 arrived 20 minutes early just as I was to release the first act. So right off the bat we were in a holding pattern as the airliner landed and took its time taxiing to the terminal. Finally I could launch the first two pilots, Will Allen and Terry Burch. Terry headed to the hold as Will prepared to fly his first-ever air show.”

Will Allen sings the National Anthem while flying aerobatics in his Super Decathlon. We heard the crowd loved it. Then Terry Burch entered the box in his Zlin 50 giving fans his usual first-class performance.

Then John paused the show to let Horizon Airlines depart the area, but “just as an F-18E was taxiing out for departure an Oregon Air National Guard F-15C made a few passes getting the crowd worked up. Not to be outdone, the Super Hornet made a spectacular departure as the Eagle departed to the north. Then the schedule went back to what I had laid out in the beginning.”

Don Mobley flew his Citabria in a comic flying farmer routine. 18-year old Alex Land, who took 6th place overall in the competition portion, put on a great show in a Sukhoi SU-29, and Masahiro Utsumi of Japan made his U.S. air show debut in an Extra 300L.

It would be great to host annual air shows and fly-ins here in Liberty, and judging from the comments we've received, there is a lot of local support for it. Because of the shorter runway length, we will be limited to acts that can land here, and have “fly-bys” by military aircraft that won't land here. We could have one heck of a show. All those in favor, say “AWESOME!”

Mike and Linda can be reached at

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