National Aerobatic Championships Return to Salina

Precision will be paramount when some of the best aerobatic pilots in the world come back to Salina to compete in the U.S. National Aerobatic Championships in September.

Doug Bartlett, International Aerobatic Club’s contest director tells KSAL News that each pilot performs at least three routines that begin with a pre-planned set of maneuvers.


The Salina Regional Airport is hosting the U.S. National Aerobatic Championships September 15 through the 30th. The event was cancelled in 2020 because of health concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, after landing in Salina for the 2019 competition.

The flying contest “is judged for its precision and excellence,” according to the IAC. “The judging is very similar to that seen in figure skating, as the competitors must execute prescribed maneuvers as part of an overall performance. It places high demands on both the pilot and aircraft to be at their best.”

Pilots compete in five categories, according to International Aerobatic Club materials – Primary, Sportsman, Intermediate, Advanced, and Unlimited in both power and glider aerobatics. Pilots in each category fly at least three routines:

Known: where all competitors fly a pre-published set of maneuvers.
Unknown: maneuvers are presented to the pilot 12 hours before.
Freestyle: pilots create their own routine based on maneuvers allowed in their category.

All routines are scored by judges, and those posting the highest scores in each category are named national champions. Top finishers in the advanced category will earn berths on the U.S. Unlimited Aerobatic Team that will compete in the 2021 World Aerobatic Championships.

Public viewing during the event will be available at Fossett Plaza, 2035 Beechcraft Road.