The Southeast was well represented at the World Advanced Aerobatic Championships this year, with two local pilots taking part.
This comes less than three months after Steinbach hosted the Canadian National Aerobatic Championships.
Luke Penner is a member of Canada's National Advanced Aerobatic Team and has been competing for years. He notes he spent the better part of a year preparing for the world championships and the 10-day event just south of Las Vegas was very special.
“It was amazing. These are some of the best pilots in the world and from around the world, from South Africa to parts of Europe and then of course the US. It was amazing to be among these ranks of people that you've heard about and looked up to for so long. It was incredible to be there.”
The advanced category is the second highest level of competition for aerobatic pilots. Penner notes “There's five categories all together, and there are World Championships for intermediate, advanced and then unlimited is the last and highest level.”
Penner says the world championship event is both a team competition and a personal competition.
“Canada finished fourth all together behind the USA, Romania, and then France took the overall win, which is typical. France does very well at these events. Myself, I was flying around the top ten level for most of the contest, but on one of the flights I got a little penalty and it knocked me down all the way to 20th place. That's where I finished 20th out of the 58 pilots.”
Though he isn’t fully convinced that penalty was merited, Penner notes that is what happens in sports and overall, he is very pleased with the way he flew.
Next year, Penner says he is excited to make the jump up to the highest level of competition, the unlimited category.
Meanwhile, Jesse Mack, who is an aerobatic pilot that teaches at Harv’s Air, also competed at the World Advanced Aerobatic Championships. He competed as an independent pilot.
The 2021 season was his first year in the advanced category, but he wasn’t able to train much because he was doing a lot of flying up north.
With that in mind, Mack notes “This is, in a way, my first full season flying advanced, competing and training regularly. So, I packed the plane and flew down to Vegas and gave it my best shot. See where I fared against the pilots from the rest of the world.”
And he notes he fared well, finishing 30th overall.
“Being relatively new to the advanced category and my first year flying this world format and not being on [Team Canada] or anything, I was very happy with my results.”
Results aside, Mack says it was also a very valuable experience.
“These are people from all the corners of the world, we all enjoyed the same sport. Everybody was super friendly, there's some really talented pilots, some of the teams had five or six pilots that all could have won. Seeing that level of talent but everybody still being so friendly, there weren't any big egos or anything, that's really cool.”
Luke Penner says it was fun to not only go to the world championships but to travel there and share the experience with another local pilot.
“I've known Jesse since he became a private pilot, I've known him for about 10 years, I've seen him grow in the sport and with his flying in general, he's just grown to be a terrific aviator. He's just done fantastic in the sport, learning the advanced category in the relatively short amount of time, he held his own, I’m really proud of what he accomplished.”
The two pilots returned from the competition on Tuesday.
Team Canada used the Canadian National Aerobatic Championships in Steinbach this past August as a chance to train for the world championships.