October 14th-16th 2021 saw IAC Chapter 107 hold its annual Hill Country Hammerfest contest in beautiful Llano, Texas. This year’s event attracted seventeen pilots competing in Primary through Advanced and flying airplanes ranging from a 115 HP Citabria to an Extra 330LX. There were even several bi-planes sprinkled in. But more on that later.
An impending Tropical Storm along with a looming cold front threw all of our careful planning into disarray shortly before the contest, forcing a call to delay the event until noon on Friday. This proved to be the right thing to do. Literally as we began the briefing on Friday, at noon, te front went trough leaving totally clear skies…and strong northerly winds aloft…for the remainder of the contest.
First up are words of gratitude to the behind the scenes people who made the contest possible before it evan began:
-John Harlan, Herman Dierks, Joel Utz and Jeff Poehlmann for marking the box and taking care of logistics the weekend prior while the CD was off fling a contest in Lamar, CO.
-Jeff Poelhmann for shepherding the waiver through the SAT FSDO
-Joel Utz for printing and preparing all the paperwork
-John Harlan for making the trophies
-Any others I may have missed, please forgive me and accept my sincere thanks
Next I need to thank the non-flying volunteers who made our contest possible. Without all of you we can’t even begin to make this thing happen:
-Chief Judge Extraordinaire Lynne Stoltenberg who herded the cats all weekend and made it look easy
-Judges Jeff Stoltenberg and Jaret Burgess who showed up just to judge
-Bud and Linda Judy who pitched in wherever they were needed
-Joel Utz who handled registration and scoring (until he got Chrissy trained up)
-Assistant CD and “cruise director” Chrissy Jenkins who sorted paperwork, helped with registration, helped with scoring and handled all of the catering. And kept me sane.
-All of the other friends, family members and enthusiasts who assisted, recorded or otherwise helped out.
So, now, on to the actual flying. Slowly improving weather on Thursday allowed a few pilots to arrive, register and tech. By three in the afternoon the weather actually allowed practice to take place. The remainder of the competitors arrived Friday morning. Unfortunately the window for practice on Friday was limited, but, as mentioned earlier, the weather did finally clear just in time for contest flying to commence. Once we got underway Sporstman and Intermediate were the first ones out of the gate.
In Sportsman, Jeff Cain flew his beautiful open-cockpit Bucker to a first place finish. Andrea McGilvray took second. Andrea was not flying her customary Pitts, which was down with a bad fuel pupm, but instead brought her newly acquired Decathlon. It must be nice to have a back-up aerobatic airplane! Third place was claimed by Mark Waggoner, also in a Decathlon. Newcomer Ela Jaworski rode to fourth in Mark’s Decathlon with Mark as her safety pilot.
The Intermediate field got off to a strong start. Newly-crowned Sportsman national Champion Mike Hoy decided to try his hand at Intermediate, and it paid off. He took first place in the Known, flying his amazing Monosport. Todd Nelson took second in his open-cockpit Skybolt. I managed a third place finish in my open-cockpit Pitts. Fourth place went to Jay Hanson in his MX2. Jerry Esquenazi took fifth in his Extra 300S.
So, for those of you scoring this at home, open-cockpit bi-planes are in first in Sporty and second and third in Intermediate after the known.
Next up was the Primary/Advanced Legacy group.
Primary was dominated by first-time-competitor John Bawduniak in his 115 HP Citabria. He claimed first place! Of course, he was the only pilot in the category. But 75& is a score to be proud of, well done!
Advanced saw five pilots vying for the crown. Julia Wood flew her S2B+ to a first place finish. Klayton Kirkland drove his Pitts S1 to a second place flight. Coloradoan Nick Slabakov took third in his blue Extra 330LX. Fourth went to hometowner John Harlan in his Pitts S1. Dave Prather and his Staudacher finished fifth.
Legacy attracted two pilots this year. In the Known, Tony Wood and his S2B+ claimed first while Herman Dierks and his Sukhoi 26 took second.
Despite the late start there was plenty of daylight remaining so the Chief Judge kept things moving and Sporty and Intermediate took to the sky again for their second/Free Flights.
Jeff Cain again claimed first place in Sporty. Mark rose to the challenge and took second. Ela flew to third and Andrea finished fourth.
Mike Hoy continued his domination of Intermediate. Jay Hanson claimed second. Your friendly scribe, in a dazzling display of consistency took third again. Jerry took fourth and Todd rounded out a strong Intermediate field.
With just enough time remaining before the pizza arrived (and the sun set) we decided to fly Primary/Advanced and Legacy through their second rotation. I really can’t stress enough the stellar work by Chief Judge Lynne Stoltenberg and all the judging line volunteers making this happen. It was a treat to watch.
John continued his unblemished run in Primary.
In Legacy Tony again took first and Herman second.
In Advanced, Julia put on another first-place display. David Prather zoomed up the standings and took second. Nick (also consistent) took third again. John was fourth and Klayton fifth.
After flying wrapped up we handed out unknown and enjoyed pizza and a beautiful Texas hill country sunset on the ramp. Not a bad way to spend the day!
Saturday dawned clear, cool and with 30 knots of wind in the box. Glorious. The CD pulled his CD card and decided that Primary/Advanced and Legacy should fly first. This gave a little time for the day to warm up before the three open-cockpit bi-plances had to fly. Sometimes it’s good to be in charge!
You can probably guess how Primary turned out!
Legacy was again consistent and very close with Tony edging out Herman.
Advanced saw the Julia Wood show continue as she claimed first again. John Harlan flew to a strong second place with Klayton right behind. (yep, bi-planes 1,2,3…in Advanced!) Dave Prather was fourth and Nick fifth.
By the time Sportsman and Intermediate were ready to fly it had warmed up a bit. My evil plan paid off. Jeff swept the three Sportsman flights. Andrea bounced back with a second place showing. Mark took third. Ela, unfortunately, had to depart on Friday evening so she was unable to finish out the contest.
Ah, Intermediate, always a good time. As they always say…it all comes down to the Unknown. I turned in a clean enough flight to take first in the Unknown. Jay was close behind in second. Jerry took third. Todd finished fourth. The first-ever-Unknown bug bit Mike.
So, for the contest, here’s how the overall standings wrapped up:
1st John Bawduniak 75.79%
1st Jeff Cain 81.68%
2nd Mark Waggoner 73.28%
3rd Andrea McGilvray 72.54%
4gh Ela Jaworski 39.78%
1st Doug Jenkins 83.76%
2nd Jay Hanson 82.91%
3rd Jeffy Esquenazi 80.64%
4th Mike Hoy 80.27%
5th Todd Nelson 79.63%
1st Julia Wood 82.41%
2nd Klayton Kirkland 79.13%
3rd John Harlan 78.68%
4th Dave Prather 78.21%
5th Nick Slabakov 73.79%
1st Tony Wood
2nd Herman Dierks
Since this was the final contest of the year in Texas, this also finalized the standings for the Texas Championship Series. This year only two categories had pilots qualify by competing in all three Texas contests. To quote one of my favorite bands, The Psychedelic Furs, “You can never win or lose if you don’t run the race.”
After averaging the scores from The Early Bird, the Lone STar Aerobatic Championships and the Hill Country Hammerfest the final results for the 2021 Texas Championship Series are as follows:
1st Doug Jenkins 82.84%
2nd Jay Hanson 78.94%
3rd Todd Nelson 76.28%
1st Klayton Kirkland 75.54%
2nd Julia Wood 74.25%
3rd Dave Prather 70.75%
Congratulation to all of these pilots for showing consistency across three demanding contests. And, it’s not too early to say…see you in Edna for the start of the 2022 Texas Championship Series!