So what is competition aerobatics, I hear you ask. This page aims to provide a basic guide to competition aerobatics. For more information we recommend you take a look at the British Aerobatic Association's website here.
The Programmes - also known as sequences
For the benefit of those not familiar with aerobatics, we thought we should explain a little bit about the flights the pilots have to do in an aerobatics competition. First, we all fly a known programme-this is published at the start of the year, and pilots can practice it as much as they like. The second flight is the Free programme-there are rules about what must be included and how complicated it is, but pilots design these themselves and again can practice them in advance. Finally we have the Free Unknown flights. Each country draws lots to decide which ten can submit a figure, subject to certain criteria. These figures are then used to design sequences which pilots must fly without practice. These are generally more tricky, and are where the most mistakes are made. Below is a photo of the sequence most of the British team are flying for the first of these flights. We'll post more later on how the flights are judged.
Scoring for Competition flights
The flights are flown in a 1km cube. (The Box), and are scored by a number of judges on the ground. You start each figure with a perfect score of 10 and from this the judges deduct points for each error they pick up.
These errors might be for a loop not being perfectly round, or a vertical line being shy of the vertical (or a whole number of other reasons!). Some figures also need to be corrected for the wind. The judges also provide a score for how well positioned the flight is in the box.
Each of these scores is then multiplied by a difficulty factor for the manoeuvre flown, to provide a number of points. Pilots usually talk about their score as a percentage of the total points available for a particular sequence.
You will see on the results page, that as the scores of more pilots come in, the scores and relative positions tend to fluctuate a bit. This is because the scoring programme also takes account of statistical anomalies and various other factors.