JLC AirShow Management Announces AirShow Racing Series

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Flightline Uk
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JLC AirShow Management Announces AirShow Racing Series

Post by Flightline Uk » Tue Oct 08, 2019 2:06 pm

On Oct. 1, 2019, JLC AirShow Management received official notice of accreditation from the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) to organize and host the recently developed AirShow Racing Series (ARS). The ARS is the newest and one of the most exciting additions to the air show industry.

"The Air Show Racing Series is a huge step forward for the air show business," says John Cudahy, President/CEO of the International Council of Air Shows. "It's compelling entertainment and an excellent complement to more traditional air show performances."

Unlike other air races, the AirShow Racing Series includes an initial high-speed pass, a half cuban roll to return to the course for a second pass, then a second half Cuban roll in a challenge to cross the finish line first.

Air racing has been conducted in a variety of ways over the past several decades. The ARS offers a unique approach utilizing two racing lanes with ten 40-foot inflatable pylons spaced approximately 600 feet apart to define the three-dimensional track for multiple heats of match-racing competition. With a pace plane in the lead, a pair of competing aircraft will approach the 4,000-foot long course, descending below 75 feet to navigate the slalom layout. At the end of the first run, the aircraft will quickly execute a half-cuban aerobatic maneuver turning 180 degrees to re-center over the race line for a second slalom pass. The planes will then reverse course one more time for the final sprint to the finish line located at the center of the crowd line.

ARS will consist of two classes of racing; Super Sport and Extreme Sport. Racers in the Super Sport class will reach speeds of 160 knots with a gravitational force equivalent near 4.5. The Extreme Sports competitors will push speeds closer to 200 knots with eight g's during racing action.

Each race day, a total of eight aircraft will compete in sets of match racing for each of the classes. The first heats will include four separate races for the Super Sport and four more for the Extreme Sport groups of racers. Winners from these races will then return for another round of elimination racing in heat two. The final heat for the day will include the finalists for each class and a winner will be named for the day. The race series attraction serves as the perfect complement to an event as a "show within an air show". The ARS also can serve as a stand-alone event with separate performances by the participating pilots.

"With over two years of development, testing and evaluations, JLC AirShow Management has completed the federal certification requirements to introduce this fresh and exciting match style racing attraction to the North American Air Show Industry," said John Cowman, JLC AirShow Management President.

The projected 2021 racing series will include multiple air show race site venues. Points will accumulate during the series to ultimately decide the two division champions. The inaugural race will take place during the Wings Over North Georgia Air Show in October 2020.

Competitors will be selected and invited by the ARS leadership based on air show certifications and experience to generate the initial super sport and extreme sport fields of world-class racers.

JLC AirShow Management has initiated efforts to secure race series sponsors and will review potential locations to serve as host sites for the 2021 AirShow Racing Series.
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Post by RyanS » Tue Oct 08, 2019 3:05 pm

Sounds like RBAR but dialed back a bit?
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Post by Adam » Wed Oct 09, 2019 10:19 am

This idea seems awfully similar to something I've seen twice before, and which simply didn't work as a spectator sport.

In the past couple of years, I've attended the Air Race Championship (ARC) in Portugal, an American-run, European-based attempt at an international air racing series which has never really gained traction. The format of ARC is remarkably similar to ARS - a similar course, similar classes, and even the idea of two side-by-side chicane tracks, which the ARC tried, and failed, to instigate at this year's race. The problem with ARC was that it simply went on far too long, and watching planes fly a slalom for hours each day isn't very engaging. At ARC, thousands swarmed to the crowdline during the "side-acts", but during the actual racing, there was almost nobody watching at times.

The ARS format in the press release adds up to 14 heats per day - that's easily an hour and a half of activity. Maybe I'm reading too much into the names of the classes, but on the basis of the press release, one class looks to be a generic sports class featuring the likes of the RV-8 - why?! Unlimited aerobatic aircraft, I can understand, but I can think of few reasons why an airshow with an already packed schedule would benefit from 7 heats of kit planes flying back and forth.

I hope this is considered an "extra" element to add to airshows, rather than a part of existing flying displays, because it's got potential to really eat into the proper flying display schedule - and if the choice is between watching RV-8s flying chicanes 8 times, or watching half a dozen proper airshow acts, with all the variety and entertainment value that comes with them, I know which I'd prefer.
Last edited by Adam on Wed Oct 09, 2019 10:34 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by kalamazookid » Wed Oct 09, 2019 2:24 pm

Adam wrote:
Wed Oct 09, 2019 10:19 am
The ARS format in the press release adds up to 14 heats per day - that's easily an hour and a half of activity. Maybe I'm reading too much into the names of the classes, but on the basis of the press release, one class looks to be a generic sports class featuring the likes of the RV-8 - why?! Unlimited aerobatic aircraft, I can understand, but I can think of few reasons why an airshow with an already packed schedule would benefit from 7 heats of kit planes flying back and forth.

I hope this is considered an "extra" element to add to airshows, rather than a part of existing flying displays, because it's got potential to really eat into the proper flying display schedule - and if the choice is between watching RV-8s flying chicanes 8 times, or watching half a dozen proper airshow acts, with all the variety and entertainment value that comes with them, I know which I'd prefer.
I couldn't possibly agree more. I thought I'd give the Red Bull Air Races a chance one year and went, and I'll just say it was not the best way I've spent my time. This sounds like a less exciting version of that. I absolutely respect the skill of the pilots involved, but it isn't something I think would enjoy watching. It's just too repetitive. Personally, it would take a really special lineup of other performers for me to want to sit through this during an airshow.

I think people tend to get bored with repetitive acts anyway. A variety of aerobatic performances is fine, but an endless parade of the same type of aircraft performing similar maneuvers lessens the entertainment value - especially for the more casual airshow attendee, which makes up a large part of the audience. For example, if there are four aerobatic performances during an airshow and all four are the same basic type of aircraft, my observation is that most people aren't paying attention by the end of the second or third performer. If you mix things up however and have, say, a solo monoplane act, a wingwalker, an act with multiple aircraft and another solo aircraft of some type, people are more likely to pay attention and be engaged with the show. I think the casual airshow attendee is more likely to react to this series in a manner similar to the first scenario.

That being said, there are some highly successful airshows that highlight and thrive on civilian aerobatic performances, and which cater to this type of enthusiast. Perhaps this series will work as a feature attraction for them. I do hope for the pilot's sake that the series finds the right niche to be successful. I'm just not sure an airshow is the best venue. It will be interesting to see how this works.
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