Tuesday, March 06, 2018

On the ground at Timaru

Sporting events by the Flying New Zealand National Championships [or the local regional events for that matter] don't just need competitors and air judges. There is a frightful amount of work that occurs on the ground leading up to and during the competition.

Essential ground-based activities on the competition days include:
  • Event Director
  • Chief Scorer  and team who compile all the scores and determine the results
  • Landing grid with at least 11 people to monitor landing position for several events
  • Chief Ground Judge and assistants for record results on the landing,. bombing and liferaft grids
  • Aerobatic judges
  • Formation judges
  • General runabouts to do whatever, whenever
  • Catering
  • ... and much more
This year I spent most of my days on the landing grid. These were long, hot days, occasionally being chased by flying insects and assisting [I think I was helpful! :-)] the Chief Ground Judge as well as running around the airfield from time to time. It was hard work, but fun also.

Here are a few photos from the ground ops.

First up - our Chief Ground Judge Paul and me [I'm a good looking one on the left!] on the landing grid. This was just about the longest we got to sit down for...

Some of the landing grid observers waiting for another aircraft to land. Volunteering for the grid is also a great way to safely get up close to the action!

A perk of the job was being able to "borrow" a vehicle and helpers to drive around. In this case, one of the Young Eagles and I are waiting near the bombing and liferaft dropping grid for the call to come and collect the dropped items!

Young Eagles is a programme for 12-17 year olds who are passionate about flying. It originated in the USA but is run locally by many aero clubs.

Young Eagles get to fly, learn about aviation, are taught about safety, have outings to aviation related activities and they seem to have a huge amount of fun! Many airline and recreational pilots started out in a programme like this. If your teenager is interested, contact your local aero club and see if they have a Young Eagles group.

In addition to the local programmes, there are scholarships available which can help young people with their flight training and a yearly conference held at the same time as the national championships!


Anonymous said...

I bumped into you on the grid with my boys, I didn't know I followed you online then, you're a good bloke and very friendly to me and my boys.

Thanks, and it was a really fun week down there!

Rodney said...

Thank you anonymous, that's very kind!

I really enjoy bumping into people at these flying events - it's often the only time many people get into one place :-)