The BAeA Golding Barrett competition was held at Sleap on the 12th & 13th of May 2012, and I can sum it up in simply one word; inspiring.
This was my first aerobatic competition that I have ever taken part in, and I can guarantee that it wont be my last!
The original plan was for Beginners to fly first, followed by Standard and then Advanced. However with the cloud base not at the required 3,400ft AGL during the morning and after a few hours of waiting around, it was decided that Advanced would fly first due to their lower cloud base limit (2,800ft AGL I believe).
Advanced aerobatics is always a treat to watch and at Sleap it was no exception, the standard of flying by these pilots was extremely high - something that echoed throughout every pilot there, in all levels. The sequenece they flew was full of negative G maneuvers, the kind that makes your eyes want to pop out of your head ... which is not something I want to be doing, just yet.
At around 13:45 it was time for Beginners, all 8 of us including me, one of the biggest turn outs in a Beginners competition for a long time. Thankfully (or not so depending on how you think) I was the last Beginner to fly, allowing me to watch how the others were doing. Amongst those flying was Antoine and Aidan, also members of the Shropshire Aero Club learning to fly competition aerobatics. Antoine was up first and flew a fantastic sequence giving him a score of 71.8%, Adian shortly followed and brought home an unbelievable score of 84.0% - a score that was sure to get him 1st place, normally.
Then it was my turn. Aidan landed the Slingsby and I swiftly jumped in to her and brought together all of my training for this one flight. After taking off from runway 36R I began to climb into the competition box and position myself, waiting for the judges to call me; "G-BUUK box is yours" was the words I heard over the radio and my que that I could start. I lined up with runway 05/23 at 3,000ft and began my sequence with 3 wing rocks. Before I knew it the sequence was over, 5 simple maneuvers completed and with it my first competition.
After landing I was eager to find my results from the team of judges; a score of 78.6% which ultimately gave me 4th place! A very pleasing result for my first competition, with only 2 months of training. Normally such score would be good for a medal however with such a high standard of flying this was not the case. The winner, Chris Brook, scored an incredibly impressive 87% in a Pitts S-2A G-BTTR ... and who actually went on to win the Standard level as well!
A big thanks has to be made to my instructor, Bob Pooler, who has taken me from a straight and level C152 PPL pilot to someone who is now addicted to aerobatics. I look forward to my next challenge, which is training with Bob to fly the Standard competition at Fenland this June.
Well done to everyone involved!