Planes danced in the sky and pilots showed off their aerobatic skills at Steinbach North Airport for Canadian National Aerobatic Championships this weekend. 

The two-day competition had pilots from across North America compete in the primary, sportsman, intermediate and advanced categories. Competitors showed off routines and were judged based on their execution and skills.  

Aaron McCartan is the head coach of Team Canada’s advanced aerobatics team. The northern Iowan is a three-time member of the United Stated aerobatic team. He was hired as the coach for the Canadian advanced team in 2022. 

There are eight pilots on Team Canada’s Advanced Aerobatic team, including hometown hero Luke Penner of Harv’s Air. 

Aaron McCartanAaron McCartan announcing award winners at Sunday's Canadian National Aerobatic Championships in Steinbach.

His team competed during the weekend’s championships, and McCartan explains they had a week of training beforehand.  

“We had some pretty busy days, and I'm sure some locals heard it. We do apologize for the noise, but we ran the pilots, all seven of our guys ran three flights a day, Monday through Thursday, and we had different challenges for them on every flight, different lessons, things to improve, some little, some big. We had them all tuned up by the end of the week, and then they had this amazing contest experience, so it's good,” McCartan explains. 

During the weekend, he says he felt nervousness and excitement but had “a great time” watching the performances. 

"I was able to watch all the pilots come out of their shell and put up the numbers I knew they could, and it was a big success and a big ‘aha’ moment for them, which means it was a huge success for me. I saw everybody succeed. I saw some amazing performances across the board, all the categories,” he says.  

As for what’s next, the Canadian advanced team will be heading to Las Vegas to battle for the title of world champions in late October. 

“We could actually get some individual flight medals,” he explains. “And if everybody's steady and consistent, Team Canada could end up on the podium as one of the top three nations in the world.” 

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Check out the photos from Sunday’s Canadian National Aerobatic Championships: 

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