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Flipping and flying

USA aerobatic pilots practicing stunts at Keystone Airport

By Natalie Gilstrap For Clay Today
Posted 3/23/23

KEYSTONE HEIGHTS – The Keystone Heights Airport welcomed the USA Advanced Team from the International Aerobatic Club on Sunday, March 12.

The talented pilots were there to practice their …

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Flipping and flying

USA aerobatic pilots practicing stunts at Keystone Airport


Posted

KEYSTONE HEIGHTS – The Keystone Heights Airport welcomed the USA Advanced Team from the International Aerobatic Club on Sunday, March 12.

The talented pilots were there to practice their aerobatic sequences or maneuvers for the upcoming Snowbird Classic Aerobatic Contest and eventually for the World Advanced Aerobatic Championship.

“We are always excited when our aerobatic community comes to practice or compete,” airport manager Maria Searcy said.

The pilots will be at the airport for a week, individually practicing in the airport’s aerobatic box. The imaginary box is used for aerobatic competitions and acts as the guidelines pilots must stay within while performing sequences.

During practice, the pilots will have coaches on the ground guiding them in areas that need perfecting to ensure they don’t lose points during the competition.

Afterward, the pilots will participate at the airport at the Snowbird Classic Aerobatic Contest from March 23-25. Aerobatic pilots throughout the Southeast will join the contest’s five categories of difficulties: Primary, Sportsman, Intermediate, Advanced and Unlimited, based on their flight proficiency.

The USA team will use the contest as a preliminary practice for the World Advanced Aerobatic Championship in late October.

“These members were picked last year at Nationals and will be competing in the Advanced category in October this year in Las Vegas,” said Hector Ramirez, president of International Aerobatic Club Chapter 89 and contest director of Snowbird Classic Aerobatic Contest.

Though the competition is not open to the public, visitors can watch from outside the airport fence boundary at the FBO airport building.

Overall, the International Aerobatic Club is a division of the Experimental Aircraft Association that promotes the safety and enjoyment of aerobatics. In addition, the Keystone Heights Airport has been active in the aerobatic community for many years, as it is one of the few remaining airports in the state to have an aerobatic box.

“We hosted the US Team back in 2013 for two months of intense practice before they went on to win 3rd place in Austria for the World Championship. It was a great honor.” Searcy said. “We will be hosting the US Team again the week of March 13th for practice as well as the IAC pilots the week of March 20th.”