January 26, 2022
This letter was posted in December by Erick McDaniel and am reposting it here for everyone’s information.Greetings to you all,First and foremost, let me start out by saying that this email comes from a standpoint of concern for the IAC and its membership. Not only for recent events that have transpired relating to this year’s US Nationals contest, but for lack of communication regarding such events to the IAC membership.In brief review, my understanding of the events are as follows: At the US Nationals contest this year, a contestant crossed a dead-prop zone at the conclusion of a flight and was subsequently disqualified from that flight after evidence was brought forward to the contest jury, who in turn made a vote to disqualify the contestant based on current IAC guidance. The contestant filed a protest at the contest challenging the disqualification. The contest jury deliberated and upheld the disqualification. At the recent IAC National Board meeting that took place on November 11, where the contestant was in attendance as a current board member, the IAC National Board (including the contestant) voted to overturn the decision of the US National contest jury in relation to the contestant’s disqualification and reinstate points for the disqualified flight. This has changed the results of the US Nationals contest nearly two months after the conclusion of the contest.To my knowledge, these events, not only disheartening on their own, have not been openly communicated to the IAC membership. This sets a dangerous precedent in two ways: (1) that contest results may be changed once a contest has completed, in contradiction of IAC guidance, and (2) that such changes are made without any resulting communication to the IAC membership. Based on this precedent, any contestant who has ever been called out low at a competition could file a protest to the IAC National Board and have them consider reinstating score(s) from a completed contest, whether flown weeks, months, or years ago. Worst yet, such Board decision and resulting changes need not be communicated to any other IAC members outside of the grieved contestant.
Where this situation and resulting discussions can go into endless depths regarding penalty severity, intent, negligence vs. recklessness, I would encourage all of us to consider one basic, and most important focus, and that is Ethics. Without conducting ourselves in an ethical fashion, we have nothing in this organization. We have no respect for ourselves, for each other, or for the continued safe legacy of this sport.
If you believe that the penalty for a safety violation is too great, or needs to be re-visited, there’s nothing wrong with that. There’s a way to propose and promote a rule change, and as IAC members, we all have the opportunity to do that. In the interim, we have written rules that, as professional aviators, we should all see as the exact guidelines to follow and the corresponding penalties if we don’t. To me, this is particularly true of those in leadership positions within the IAC organization, who should be at the forefront of setting an example and encouraging others to do the same.
As IAC pilots, we are held to a high standard, and with good reason. For years, IAC competition pilots have represented the best traditions and standards in which civilian aviators can be held. I believe that an experienced IAC pilot carries with him or her a reputation for safety, competency, and professionalism. With these standards, should come an unwavering dedication to the ethics of our rules, and the compliance and enforcement of these rules.I sincerely don’t want to see any damage brought to the IAC. I love competition aerobatics and what IAC has done for the sport and I hope to see that continue for many, many years to come. However, as an IAC member, I feel that the IAC membership is entitled to know the information above and consider how the resulting precedent impacts the sustainability of this sport.Regards,Erick McDanielIntermediate Competitor