At international level Precision Flying competitions are flown solo. However within the UK to try and encourage pilots into the sport there are 2 classes that can be flown. Open class is flown solo and follows the rules as per international competitions. Sportsman class can be flown as a crew of 2 and the timing allowances and penalties are more lenient than Open class. Prior to the competition competitors must declare a competition AIR SPEED. The aircraft will then be flown round the route using time separation and the aircraft ordered in fastest to slowest aircraft.
Prior to getting airborne the pilots are given a VFR flight log which will specify the times to cross each turnpoint and the heading and groundspeed using a best guestimate of the 1000′ wind and the declared competition AIR SPEED. Pilots mark up their maps with the route, turnpoint times, headings and track minute markers. The latter allowing pilots to ascertain whether they are flying ahead or behind schedule so that speed changes can be made to allow the aircraft to be flown “on track on time”.
Pilots take off at a nominated time and then fly around the pre-planned route attempting to cross each nominated turn point at the specified time. Competitors are provided with a number of photographs of features which they must identify and mark on their map where the feature was observed. There are also ground targets placed around the route which competitors must locate and mark on their maps. Penalty points are awarded for every second early/late at the nominated turnpoints and for every unseen or misplotted photograph or target. Prior to getting airborne each aircraft is given a GPS tracker which enables the flight to be downloaded and overlaid on the course to enable timing penalties to be determined. For the Navigation phase of the competition the competitor with the least penalties wins.
Once all pilots return from the Navigation route, there then follows a spot landing competition. Touching down on the 2 metre wide landing line incurs zero penalties with penalties awarded for every metre over or undershot from the zero line. Each pilot conducts 3 “touch and goes” and then a full stop landing using specified approach techniques ie normal, glide, flapless trying to touch down on the zero line on each occasion. The pilot with the lowest number of penalties wins the landing phase of the competition.
For each competitor the navigation and landing penalties are added together and the pilot with the lowest overall score within each class is declared the winner of their class.
This years World Championship Precision Flying will take place in Spitzberger, Austria from 29 July to 5 August 2017. If you fancy having a go at Precision Flying competitions get in touch with the BPPA.