The Presentation of the Slick - by John Gaillard (CIVA Vice President - Chief Judge AWAC 2004)
There are many different factors involved with the way aerobatic aircraft are viewed by the judges and these have changed significantly over the past few years. When I started judging, the most competitive aircraft was the Pitts Special, a small biplane and sometimes it was almost like having a bumblebee flying around in the box especially when it was high in the box.
Another factor which has changed, is that when a free weather break was introduced, it was on the basis that an aircraft started at the top of the performance zone and worked its way down during the sequence and when cloud prevented the full use of the upper limits of the box, the break was intended to allow a re-climb somewhere in the sequence. High-powered modern aerobatic aircraft changed all this and this became apparent to me during the WAC/European Championships in Turkey in 1997 when a free break was in place and competitors were taking the break in order to start lower in the box as the unknown sequence being flown was causing them to gain height.
So what has all this to do with the Slick 360? Well the aircraft is brand new and has a really impressive performance. This allows the pilot to present the aircraft at an optimum box position that is not too high and in front of the judges, providing the lower limit of the box is not infringed or even got too close, this is a major advantage.
One thing, which strikes you when you see the Slick next to other aircraft, is just how compact it is. The ability to therefore be able to gain an optimum positioning score is vital. The Slick flown by Glen Dell did just this at the Nationals.
Whilst I cannot tell you why, the Slick really shows off a good vertical line. Maybe it is the rapid transition to vertical and the long line thereafter. A good vertical line will always impress the judges; the Slick achieves this when well flown.
Similar Laser type aircraft in the past had a tendency to bobble at the end of a flick manoeuvre, this being a function of the wing construction or ailerons or perhaps both. The Slick has no such problem, the flick stops crisply every time. This is of course dependent on the pilot also. I cannot see any area where the Slick does not show a figure well flown to its best advantage. We have not covered tail slides yet, but these are not part of the Advanced Class curriculum.
One aspect, which perhaps does need some thought, is the colour scheme. In a bright sky the predominantly white scheme can blend somewhat with the background. This is not such a problem when flown in the optimum position, but a more bold scheme might have a better effect. I am not sure whether a bold line on the fuselage will improve the vertical appearance, which is already excellent.
To summarise, the Slick 360 is a major step forward in South African aerobatics, a real performer that presents and performs well. I believe it will make a major impact on the International scene also when we get there. I cannot wait for a group of South Africans, well trained and all flying the same type of aircraft. I am confident that they will be winners.