Mid-Winter Update

Website Woes

Alas, all efforts to resurrect our old website have failed - Mike has given up, admitting defeat to some low-life scum who keeps repeatedly attaching the site. Why? Hardly for commercial gain or world domination. 

So, Terry and Mel (mainly Mel!) have taken up the task of creating a new web presence for us. You'll still be taken to the website if you go to aerobatics.co.nz, but you may notice the URL at the top is currently www.aerobatics.tillee.com

Big thanks to Mike Slack for managing our old website over the years, and to Mel and Terry for stepping up to generate and keep going the new one. With better security, we hope.

Plane Updates

Keith Trillo's old Pitts S1, ZK-EEU, continues to make steady progress towards completion, whenever Ryan Southam and Andy Love can get to it, at Omaka.

Richard Hoods' long-term/new-build Pits S1-SS(SSSSS!) is also progressing towards completion. I wonder who will win the Pitts completion race - Ryan and Andy, or Richard?!

Kind-of looks like a old-school fighter, with a gun-mount too. Top wings are over-rated, Richard!   

David Wilkinson will probably beat them both, and have a faster plan too, with his DR107 One-Design. I have watched these planes at the OZ Nationals do stuff you shouldn't be able to do with four cylinders and a little wing...amazing.

Pretty amazing progress, considering he just started this last Tuesday! (Actually, about two years ago - but it is plans built, unlike his RV8, which took not much more than a year to build)

Can you see a person in this last photo?

Like the movie 'Three Weddings and a Funeral', the last isn't great news, for The Great Stunt Company...again.

ZK-NUT had an altercation with a hangar door, the latter winning as they always do. 

Prop off for a wee holiday to Germany and a new tip - only about 3 months and $10k. Bugger. Bugger, bugger, bugger! 

2018 Nationals

August is the half-way point between each Nationals. Plans are underway for the 2018 event, minus the fog!

More info to come, but check out our website to see the sequences you need to start practicing NOW! They are also on OpenAero under Library/2018/NZAC.

Also, consider booking accommodation - the dates are 21-24 of February, but maybe come a couple of days early and plan on heading home on Sunday 25th. It can be a busy time of the year in the Wairarapa, with weddings in particular a big drain on accommodation.

South Island Akro Fest 2017

Andy has another great event planned for this year - very central (great for Russell, or anybody with a plane at Omaka!) and an awesome airfield. The box is cool too, if you can stay in it, and gives the spectators a great view of your prowess.

Turn up to avoid getting the dipstick...

Expect more info in your inbox, follow the Facebook page or contact Andy at torque_roll@hotmail.com 

LLDA Renewals

All LLDAs (low-level display authorisations) expire at the end of August, so get your paperwork in to Dave Brown early to avoid disappointment. If you have got one, you know the routine. If you haven't and need one, ask me for more info at grantbenns2014@gmail.com.

Articles and Content

Our website is as good as WE make it. If you have interesting, relevant and/or cool pictures/movies/links/whatever that is remotely connected to aerobatics, send it to Mel (mcminn@gmail.com) so she can find somewhere to list it. I have got Kiwi Flyer editor Michael Norton to provide us with the aerobatic articles I have been writing for his magazine - I hope you enjoy them.

That's all for now - fly safe,


Masterton Nationals 2017

The NZ Aerobatic club has once again coagulated around the Masterton airfield and abused the structural integrity and aesthetic sensibilities of man and machine for the third time, shattering the previous record of two times at this venue. It was a collation of the usual suspects and by the narrowest of margins included a very recently returned to service ZK-NUT.

NUT was sporting a new lid and some fresh paint and accompanied by a good number of its supporting minions. The aerobatic club has a large number of pilots sharing this aircraft (including 4 in just intermediate, making up more than half the category) and before NUT they similarly shared ZK-MAD. It’s terrific having this machine back on line because the more challenging categories especially have been slim pickings for several years, with ‘intermediate’ a bit thin and ‘advanced’ not competed at all last year. Hopefully the new Warbirds Yak 52 will encourage a similar group to coalesce and participate next time. Under CIVA rules there is even a Yak 52 category (same complexity as intermediate) that can be flown as a single design comp that is your metaphorical level playing field. It would be beyond awesome to have to add an extra trophy to the lineup and we know you Yak guys are lurking out there.

The biggest surprise this year was that the contest director, Mike Slack, actually appeared. Previous years have seen him do all the prep and then be railroaded by work, forcing the glamorous job to fall on my shoulders. But not this time. Someone in Airways clearly did not get a memo and at the next performance review a frowny emoji is almost certain to appear. They take breeches like this seriously. Mike seemed oblivious to the fate of this nameless bureaucrat and instead concentrated on partying like it was 1999 (i.e. 18 years ago).

Weather-wise the week started out with the remnants of the system that obliterated the airshow of the preceding weekend hanging about and making Monday arrival more interesting than ideal. It would seem that losing a three day event in February is a pretty long-odds bet, but lose it they did. A huge shame for all those who worked hard to make it happen only to sit in the rain while the clock ran out. Then by Monday afternoon everything was back to flyable conditions.

Tuesday was hot and clear and super sticky. When you close the canopy in most aircraft you create a sauna, but often you have effective venting or even A/C to help make it tolerable. Aerobatic pilots are staunch apparently and need no such luxuries. Fortunately the time on the ground is brief and the aero club pool was divinely refreshing.

Wednesday was the first competition day and was similarly warm and fine. We quickly got the first flights all done and then with heaps of time in hand called it a day and retired to the pool. What could possibly go wrong?

Thursday dawned with a very low solid overcast that sometimes turned to drizzle. It cleared to provide a fine day … at about 6:15pm. Never mind, 7am briefing then first flight Friday at 8am. Heaps of time left.

Friday there was not a breath of wind as we struggled out to the club. What there was though was fog. Lots of fog that was just not moving. At 7am I know how it feels, but by 10am there was some movement and the fog departed. We had sun on the ground and blue skies above the clubrooms. The problem was the fog had not gone far and the box itself remained fogbound until yet another hour had passed. Now we were up against the clock. Saturday was an issue because many had Ohakea plans, so we applied shoulder to grindstone, pedal to metal and the lotion to its skin (so it wouldn’t get the hose again). Remarkably it did come together except for one dropped flight program from intermediate. At this stage we could award trophies so we retired to the pool once more and passed out the silverware and thanked people and stuff like that.

Warbirds members dominated the virtual podium, with Dave Cranna and Grant Benns first and second in Intermediate, myself first in Sports and Des Barry leading Recreational. Russell Bell convincingly stormed into first place in Advanced with Morris Tull in second. It’s been a fantastic week of fun flying; awesome venue, great people and excellent food – why weren’t you there?

-Terry Johnson

Feb 2017 Newsletter

With the Nationals less than two weeks away, here are some reminders for those of you attending, or still considering attending...


If you type aerobatics.co.nz you will be taken somewhere different - our new/temporary website. Our main website got hacked and corrupted a few weeks ago, by somebody keen on world domination perhaps - we were an obvious target! Maybe the same guy who got Trump into power?! IN the meantime, Mike and Mel have put up a temporary website to keeps us going with info about the Nationals...and that's about all. Please be patient while we get back on our feet - and feel free to email Mike Slack or me, Grant Benns, directly for more information.


If you haven't entered by now, almost too late...almost. Mike will take last minute entries (because he is a good guy) but you can imagine the effort required in generating judging packs etc, so if you are still thinking about it, do it NOW! Just send him an email with the Category you are going to fly in, your aircraft and contact details, and your Free Known (from Open Aero) if you are a Sports/Int/Adv pilot. We can sort out the entry fees later - just getting you there is the important part.


If you are attending this year, please remember to bring back last year's trophy, engraved with your name. IF YOU ARE NOT ATTENDING, PLEASE GET YOUR TROPHY BACK TO US, NOW. Find a way - with somebody else, by courier, however you can. Contact us to make arrangements.


Some stay in motels, some in rented houses, some in tents. If you are still without accomodation, I have been updated on a house that can sleep 4-6 within walking distance of the aerodrome - let me know if you need it, ASAP. And if you want to bask in the Wairarapa heat, you can pitch a tent beside Andy and the pool, out back of the Aero Club - we have the use of an adjoining hangar's showers etc too.


Very limited, first-in first-served. But we will endeavour to get the fragile (bi)-planes looked after first.


You will find our operative rules on the website - you should be conversant with those parts that are relevant to your category, as well as the general safety rules. If you want to win, you should be VERY conversant with what the judges want to see - the Judging Criteria. ALL competitors need to read and be aware of the 2017 Nationals Procedures Manual, also found on the website. Copies will be floating around the Event too - we must do what we say we are going to do, for the safety of all, in the air and on the ground. CAA will be in attendance.


Mike needs to sight your documents before you can fly, including In-Box practice (which forms part of our Event). These are the obvious things (licence, medical, aerobatic bi-annual, LLDA) and the less obvious (aircraft insurance - third party liability). You can scan and send him this now, or bring it along. No paperwork = no fly.


Some of you may be arriving early for Wings Over Wairarapa, others will arrive on Monday (me) or Tuesday. Obviously we are beholden to the weather, as usual, but if that behaves this is the plan (subject to change, at any time, for any reason!):

  • In-box practice (box markers will be out - get a briefing from Mike or I)
  • Briefing at 8am - attendance compulsory, lateness punished
  • First competition flight up at 10am (probably Steve!)
  • Known- LLDA refresher over the lunch break 12-2pm (heat of the day)
  • Finish at 5pm.
  • Briefing at 8am - attendance compulsory, lateness punished - again
  • 9am flying... Know (part 2), Free Known
  • 12-2pm Free Unknown workshop/composition
  • Finish flying at 5pm
  • AGM at 6pm (finish at 6.05pm)
  • Briefing at 8am - attendance compulsory, lateness ridiculed
  • 9am flying... Unknown, Free Unknown, 4-minute Free
  • Finish when we finish, clean up what we can
  • Dinner, prize-giving 7.30pm
  • Clean-up, pack-up.

Aerial view of aerobatic box, Masterton

Langley-Marshall Aerobatic Memorial Trophy - March 18th (19th for wx)

This year marks the 25th anniversary of what was the Langley Memorial Aerobatic Competition.

Recently, this event has been renamed to also recognise the founder of the competition, the late Paul Marshall (Simon's father), who was a great friend of Brian Langley’s and a longtime President of the NZ Aerobatic Club - not to mention hoarder of the NZAC Advanced trophy!

The event will be held at North Shore Aero Club on Saturday March 18th, with the 19th as the alternate weather day.

For those of you unfamiliar with the competition, it is structured in such a way as to level the playing field. A Chipmunk flying Primary can go toe to toe with a Zlin, Giles or MX flying a more rigorous sequence. This year we will be flying the 2017 NZAC Known sequences, so those of you fresh from the Nationals may be feeling good about doing well...or not! The highest percentage score takes the magnificent trophy.

It would be great to see a large contingent of Aerobatic pilots celebrating the memory of both Brian and Paul.Register your interest with Simon Marshall at Simon1972@outlook.com. (021747943)

Skip to toolbar