It's possible to revolutionise an aerobatic championship and make it attractive to the public.


Filing Flight Plan
Oct 25, 2016
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filipe raf
Scoring rules inside the aerobatic box were not changed, yet out of the box we wanted to do everything differently. For the first time in the world, we ran a championship where the judges' scores were recorded electronically using an App, even with Nick Buckenham, President of the FAI Aerobatics Commission (CIVA), doubting that it would work. We also did the first world championship with narration sequences and partial results. In addition to creating a completely different qualifying format. The public understood and followed.

I had called Lucas Delcaro, who was the contest director to pass Keynote rules and validate the arguments. I was talking about Qualifying 1, the first flight of each category. That's a round. "It eliminates the laggards in the first phase and only lets the good move forward" I said, smiling. A while later I was in the flying Q1. Then came the strong winds and the rain started . I did not have the situational awareness to choose the right side of the box to turn. I made a quarter roll to the wrong side and went over the judges in the crossbox. I got a zero. I was one of the laggards.

It was the first time that I had lost a championship, yet still continued to be excited. Because I was the one who had conceived the competition.

The first Trophy Alberto Bertelli of Aerobatics was held in the Aero Club of Itápolis, country of S. Paulo, Brazil between 8th and 10th September 2016. The "old" (as he was known) Bertelli was the greatest aerobatic icon in Brazil. He started flying in the 40's, peaked in air shows in the 60's and 70's and died of natural causes in the early 80's. His memory is revered unanimously among Brazilian aviators.

Before explaining how the competition was conceived, it is necessary to undersand a little history of the Aero Club and what each person expected of the circus that had been arranged. Itápolis was one of the most respected aero clubs of Brazil, it was founded in 1941 and it is the most well-structured in the country. The Aero Club has nearly 20 aircraft. There, we also have the headquarters of the EJ School of Aeronautics, the largest in Latin America, with more than 50 aircraft. But what they really like doing is to party. Receiving people, pilots, aircrafts and open the lawns of the Aero Club for the people to enjoy the flights.

I have been an aerobatic competitor pilot since 2001, moreover, I do the communication planning of EJ, who were the main sponsors of the Trophy, and the Aero Club, who organised the event. Thus it was possible to bridge the gap between the needs of pilots and organisers.

Pilots want another place to compete and evolve the art of acrobatics, and of course, they also want to reduce their costs. The sponsored pilots want to justify to the companies the exposure of their brands. Those who are not being sponsored would like it to to be easier to get a sponsor for their plane. EJ and the Aero Club, who were the sponsors of the event, wanted people who love aviation to visit their facilities and learn more about their respective flight schools.

The Aero Club had previously successfully organised several air shows. They already had the expertise and several pilots who participate in air shows there, were requesting more events, meetings and championships. Josué Andrade, who is the president of the Aero Club and director of EJ, gave the green light: Organise a championship. I gathered a small committee of competitor pilots and I was playing the ideas one by one, that we should be looking at what might work or not.

In Brazil we have the CBA, the Brazilian Committee of Acrobatics, which organises the Brazilian championship with the IAC (International Aerobatic Club) package of sequences and categories. We did not want it to be just a regional, like Chapters in the US, we needed to be different. The Bertelli Trophy was not a regional championship.

First goal: reduce arbitration claims
We began to discuss what bothered us others competitions. In the Brazilian Championships we have about fifteen people in the Sportsman category normaly. And the results of the firsts are always very close, with little difference in percentage from the first to at least fifth place. And this invariably raises several discussions on arbitration because virtually no one gets a zero in a maneuver. This makes it very competitive. The same thing happens in the Primary Category.

Suspicions, founded or not, always take the edge off the competition and generates various gossip backstage. And this has a negative effect: just puttting off some pilots who could participate and evolve in its flights.

Our first thing was to increase the score for the distance between the top finishers, and we were one, as we know, few in the world, to have a championship with own drawn sequences. And we make only three categories, because its our reality, the first was the Traditional, which is something between the Primary and Sportsman of the IAC. We e created a new name because we felt better it we felt it better to take a trophy home and be rewarded not for being "Basic" or "Primary". In addition, we found the primary very short IAC, where the pilot himself almost does not even have fun with a flight ending so quickly.

The second category was the Super Sportsman, which is practically an intermediate without snap roll. The principle is as follows: Minimum aircraft to accomplish without loss of competitiveness should be the Decathlon 150hp, Cap-10 and RV's, which are planes of brazilian reality.

The difficulty was increased over the sportsman including points to maneuver, including a four point rolls, and including a part of the maneuvers category Intermediate of IAC, like the Chinese looping. Maneuvers that the planes not need to 200hp engines. The scoring distance between the top finishers increased. Causing the pilots themselves were aware of their mistakes and fewer complaints.

The third category was the Elite, which was Advanced that could be flown in with a Christen Eagle, ultimately, without getting too behind in the score against a Sukhoi or Extra. With the same principle, the increased difficulty of execution without the need for 300hp power.

Each category has three sequences defined before the competition. There was not the free or unknown sequences, which always generate discussions because they feel that harms or helps any particular type of aircraft.

And even in traditional, we had three sequences. The fact that they are different adds a certain excitement to the sport, that only intermediate pilots has normaly. Even the maneuvers being practically the same, but on different sides of the box. In addition to force more zeros without bringing risk to the flight.


Volunteer and Lucas Delcaro

The APP for Scores

Planes arriving


Winners of the Traditional Category



Part of the Volunteers of the Aeroclube de Itápolis


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Qualification system inspired by Formula 1
All competitors started in their respective categories, flying Qualifying 1. From there, qualify for Q2, which is a semi-final. The last of Q1 were for a play-off, so that no pilot did less than two flights with scores. In the case of Trophy Alberto Bertelli, we had 10 pilots in the Sportsman and two competitors were disqualified in Q1. The three with lower scores went to a small competition of 3. One of the continues to Q2.

Basically were only competitors who zeroed maneuvers in Q1, aware of their mistakes. The three competitors repeated the sequence of Q1. It was well accepted the idea that a competitor can make a mistake, zero out a maneuver and can still fight be the champion, provided it is in Q1.

In Q2 there were only 8 competitors. And when the competitor passes phase, their points came zeroed. The Q2 is a new stage. And anyone can win again, is not a sum. In addition, every pilot always think always the flight the next day will be better, and it gives a different dynamic.

Not a sum brought several advantages. Pilots who do not arrive extremely well trained, but fly well, may progress during the competition, which made the competition more democratic. This brought them who own aircraft, and training more often, of that lease aircraft only for the championships and come only on the day of the competition. In addition, there is no fight for box time the day before the start. And favoritism charges by the organization for certain competitors, something that always happens.

The Qualification 3 is the final. 4 competitors in Traditional and 4 competitors in the Super Sportsman. All zeroed again. In the elite, from the first day we had only two competitors. And really in this case there was a failure in our planning, as there was no elimination, we did not know handle it well. We need to think what to do in similar cases.

This qualification system reduce the complaints about arbitration. We had a pilot in the Traditional category the zeroed a maneuver in Q1, but still continued to Q2. On the day he tried a claim to arbitration because of its screw. Was it azure or not? Does not matter. He was qualified to Q2, as the last one, but he was. If it was a sum he could never be rehabilitated to be the champion of the division and would be complaining about the referees for three days. The subject died within 24 hours. He ended up going into the final round, finished in 4th.

And this method also made it easier for the judges. In a final, with few competitors, they all fly sequentially, and they are just the best. Four flights occur in less than one hour. The judges evaluate the best sequentially, bringing a more just result.

In championships with summations and have ten or fifteen pilots in a particular category, injustices can happen. Ita has occurred to me in situations where I'm flying at 2pm in the afternoon, with strong wind, turbulence, and my direct competitors flew close to the by-the-sun, no wind and without turbulence, with a completely favorable atmosphere.

All this increased competitiveness. The subject, even among competitors, after the second day was who would be the champions. predictability was reduced. It is difficult to recover in fierce competitions.

The first time in world championship with electronic scores APP
Oswaldo Guerra is cropduster pilot. Before having this profession, he graduated as an engineer. Oswaldo has created the famous app in cropduster aviation, Agflier, which has been very useful for agricultural pilots and has become popular throughout Latin America and starting in Australia and USA. He, in the Brazilian championships, was responsible for putting into operation the software FAI / CIVA to process the scores. We asked him to be responsible for scoring the I Trophy Alberto Bertelli. Oswaldo accepted.

But Oswaldo wanted to innovate. He was bothered by paper work with scores. He made an application for Ipad. Each judge had his. They gave the scores and they goes directly into the central results, which were quickly processed and published on the web. So all with smartphones had access at the time, the Aero Club TV already projected the scores. Do not wait for the night in the championship to see results generated another result over there interesting: people watched the competition. And not only many flights flying in box. Everything was integrated.

Another interesting feature within the software on the iPad was the recording of the voices of the judges giving the score, which served as the notes of the maneuvers, in much more detail, which greatly helped the competitors, especially the beginners, to understand more and study their flights. Some contestants joined audios with GoPro in video editors. And published on youtube for their studies.

But the genius of Oswaldo had a boost. He exchanged information with the President of the FAI Aerobatics Commission (CIVA), Nick Buckenham, who is the author of the banknote processing software and commented on his idea to have an application. Nick did not believe it would work. Oswaldo took as a personal challenge. Luckily ours.

The speed of publication of the results brought advantages, because it was always an absolutely human thing, the competitive friends praising your flight soon after landing. The pilot was with all those compliments in the brain for hours to find out, just the at night, the result of their flight and their classification. If a low score, after so many compliments, it could only be a conspiracy of judges against him. In the I Trophy Alberto Bertelli, there was no time for such approaches when the pilot exits the box, its outcome was already published, partial in comparison to other competitors as well.

The pilot descended the plane already with their cell phones in hand, watching the table and seeing his scores. Aware of the quality of your flight. But it also served to approach the public to the aerobatics.

We did for the first time in the world, a championship with narrator saying maneuvers and partial results

Vadico, who is famous in the coutrny for speaking at all aviation events and model airplanes events, is always called to give the party atmosphere in all competitions. He also teatched abou the maneuvers thata were been perfomed, but only at air shows, always trying to guess what the pilot was would do.

I have always wondered why he did not narrate the sequences, especially in basic and sportsman category, as they are always the same. There was a myth that there was no point in trying to tell anything, that the rules were difficult and that the public would not understand the angles and scores.

I watched the TV during the Olympics a competition of diving in the pool. It had a narrator, he was explaining about how the competition worked. During the race I could understand, or thought I could understand, does not matter. In acrobatics, I guarantee, after the third imelmann, even a child knows what is a immelman. Also, people like competition, to know results, and like to understand more, especially aviation fans. With live results, Vadico was transmitting the partial classification, if the pilot beat the previous competitor or not, or whether it is well counted to win. And only the people know that the narrator knows the next maneuver, it mades it interesting.

He read the sequences, during the Q1, Q2 and Final of each category. "Wow", "now he pushes," "go vertical", etc. And for the public to understand, was making his comments as judges do. If passed in the angles, he jumped a time to maneuver or stayed away from the box or made any maneuver in a bad position.

We do not care about possible complaints from competitors regarding the narrator comments on his maneuvers, it is part of the show, as all narrators in all kinds of sports.

We made the first championship in Brazil with exclusive judges
Besides Fernando Paes de Barros, who was the embassador of the event, the other judges were experienced for many years from the IMAC championships. The myth is that they would have difficulty, would not know the rules, even after training. They simply thought that the flight were in slow motion. And his score were consistent. Practically we had only a claim for arbitration. "And he was right," he told me one of the judges. It was an interpretation of sequence error.

What could be better
Traditionally, in Brazil, the championships end on Saturday morning, to let the air show performances for the afternoon, when we have more public, with aircrafts with smokes. We did it this time too, the competition ended around noon Saturday. We believe now we can put the competition at to the end of the day, were have more public watching. In the next year we need more judges, we had only three, we need at least 5.

We approached the public and the aerobatics. Competitors were awarded in front of people, right after the end of the competition, perhaps more arousing passions for aviation and creating fans. It is an account where everyone wins, the sponsors, the public and the aerobatics. We are sure that we can have more sponsorships in the coming years and we can reduce the sport's costs. We agreed on the format. But I got out of the box.

Filipe Rafaeli is aerobatic pilot.
More pics.14258180_1066824380098188_765402920117131395_o.jpg
Paes de Barros and Delcaro

Public during prize

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Vadico interviewing kids for a webtv.
So the judges can now stare at their phone/iPad instead of using a pencil and paper? Isn't technology great
Looks like a good day and if the new technology makes things go smoother, what's not to love?? I know nothing of international aerobatics competition, so I can't really debate whether it's a good change or not. I just know it looks like you had a good turn out, it was a beautiful day, people were entertained and nobody crashed. GA at it's best.
How vibrant and accessible is Brasilian GA from a socioeconomic comparison to the US? Are airspace restrictions and licensing requirements more typical of what is seen in Europe and Central America?

BTW, a shout out to Brasil is in order. My PA-28R-200 suffered a setback at the hands of "Five dollars[an hour] doesn't buy my undivided attention...." American underemployment shenanigans which required procuring one outer section of the rear spar, among other skin and aileron replacement. Piper wanted 90 days to get a factory replacement for the rear spar section. We found one in Brasil, I'll have to ask my AP what region exactly.

I had the pleasure of meeting the folks from the FAB Smoke Squadron in 2010 when I brought the BUFF up to the Windsor Airshow. We exchanged the typical coin amongst military aviators. Here's the one they gave me (back when they were flying the Tucano, it's my understanding they now fly the Super T):
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Thanks for the great post, details and really nice photos! I hope you'll stick around and share more?