Friday, August 27, 2021

Giles Henderson Memorial Challenge Regional Aerobatic Contest Held in Salem, IL Part 1: Saturday

By Carmelo Turdo
The Giles Henderson Memorial Challenge Aerobatic Contest was held last weekend at Salem-Leckrone Airport in central Illinois. The event, previously known as the IAC Chapter 61 Salem Regional Aerobatic Contest, continued in the 46-year tradition of promoting aerobatic flying excellence through healthy competition in a safe environment. Twelve pilots flew eleven aircraft during the two-day event, which was fraught by fog and rain delays. On Saturday, there was a break in the weather in the late afternoon, and the pilots, ground crews and judges mobilized to get flight operations underway. Here in Part 1, we take you through the day's activities from the early morning fog through the contest flights and those meant to fly another day. Check Part 2 of this series for the Sunday flights.

The morning began with fog and low clouds, which remained for much of the day.

The pilot and ground crew briefing went ahead in the morning as scheduled. Though the event has been running successfully for decades, a thorough briefing was held to help ensure that everyone involved understands the rules and procedures for a fair and safe competition. 

The contest aircraft were kept overnight in a hangar closest to the launch area. As seen in our hangar tour below, they were neatly packed and ready for the day's flights.

The judges gathered in position as the planes fired up for the Unlimited and Advanced  contest flights, and the results are posted below. The remainder of the categories would be judged on Sunday.

Steve Grohsmeyer, MX Aircraft MXS, First Place Unlimited

Hugo Ritzenthaler, Staudacher Pitts S-1E, Second Place Unlimited

Shaun Brautigan, Extra EA-330SC, First Place Advanced

Steven Johnson, MX Aircraft MX2, Second Place Advanced

Tom Rybarczyk, Ultimate Pitts S-1S, Third Place Advanced

Bruce Ballew, Extra EA-300L, Fourth Place Advanced

Another weather front was moving through the area, and the contest was called off for the day. The pilots seen below were awaiting their flight and had their turn on Sunday (see Part 2).

Jerry Esquenazi, Extra EA-300S, Intermediate

Justin Hickson, Pitts S-2B, Intermediate

Bryan Hayden, Pitts S-2A, Sportsman

Gunnar Jeannette, Pitts S-2B, Sportsman

David Butler and Liz Birch, Super Decathlon, Sportsman

The Aero Experience commends IAC Chapter 61 for its distinguished record providing aerobatic contests in the heart of the Midwest and Salem-Leckrone Airport for hosting the event. Check out Part 2 of this series for Sunday coverage.