|By Carmelo Turdo|
Salem-Leckrone Field, host to IAC Chapter 61 and the Salem Aerobatic Contest, has a Midwest Aviation legacy stretching back to before World War II. A walk-through of one of the hangars revealed dates in the concrete floor from 1942, during the period when pilots were being trained by the military at the airport. The airport was named for Salem, IL resident Phillip Howard Leckrone, a local pilot who was one of the original American volunteer members of the Eagle Squadron of the Royal Air Force after training in Canada before the U.S. entered World War II. He was one of the first Americans trained in the Spitfire fighter, and was credited with shooting down or sharing victories for five enemy aircraft while flying patrols over the English Channel. Leckrone was tragically killed in an in-flight collision on January 5, 1941, while serving in No. 71 Squadron. Today, the airport occupies 364 acres, offers a 4,098ft. runway and FBO Tate's Flying Service offers 100LL aviation fuel and other services. A newly-renovated operations building makes any visiting pilot feel welcome.
The IAC provides rules governing the aerobatic contests for each category - Primary, Sportsman, Intermediate, Advanced and Unlimited - in order of increasing difficulty. The size of the aerobatic box (airspace used for the judged flying) is 1000m x 1000m, with the lower and upper altitude limits also varying by category. The aerobatic box footprint is marked using large white panels on the ground, positioned to give a proper line of sight from the judges' position. During each flight, a competitor flies a set of maneuvers that are documented by uniform figures in a specified order. The judges calculate the scores, from 0-10, for each maneuver and add a difficulty coefficient multiplier. Competitors are ranked by their total scores.
The following sequence shows the setup of the aerobatic box marker by Contest Director Joe Overman, and a sample set of each competitor seen on Friday. In Part 2, we will add an expanded set of photos covering the flights and presentation of awards.