Greetings from The Aero Experience Team


The Aero Experience is a celebration of Midwest aviation and aerospace achievement. We invite you to join us as we explore the treasures of Midwest aviation through first-hand experiences. Our contributors take turns flying lead, and we are always looking for new destinations. Check in with The Aero Experience frequently to see where we will land today, and then go out and have your own aero experiences!

Blue skies,

Carmelo Turdo, Mark Nankivil and Fred Harl - The Aero Experience Team

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Midwest Aviators Compete for Honors at 41st Annual Salem Aerobatic Contest, Part 1: Arrivals

By Carmelo Turdo
Aviators from around the Midwest gathered at the 41st Annual Salem Aerobatic Contest last weekend at Salem-Leckrone Field in central Illinois.  The Mid-West Region event is sponsored by Chapter 61 of the International Aerobatic Club (IAC), a division of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), headquartered in Oshkosh , WI.  Possibly the longest-running competition of its kind, the Salem Aerobatic Contest provides an opportunity for member pilots to demonstrate their flying skills for objective evaluation by their peers, at times leading to advancement within the skill levels.  The Aero Experience was privileged to be on site Friday and Sunday, visiting with the participants and the airport community who made this year's contest a great success.  In Part 1 of this series, we will feature the host airport, event setup and Friday arrivals.

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.

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