Borrego Sun - Since 1949

Eyes to the Skies for Akrofest 2018


Last updated 10/11/2018 at 1:59pm

In keeping with this year’s theme for the 2018 Borrego Days Desert Festival, all eyes will be on the daytime skies at the Borrego Valley Airport Oct. 11 – 13 for the Borrego Hammerhead Roundup, a.k.a. Akrofest 2018. Practice begins on Oct. 10.

Competition begins at approximately 8 a.m. throughout the weekend.

The San Diego chapter of the International Aerobatic Club (IAC-36) is once again sponsoring the two-day event, described as “a 5-category power contest.” The five categories are Primary, Sportsman, Intermediate, Advanced, and Unlimited. Regardless of power available in their engines, participating pilots have to ensure their planes “stay within the box,” 1 kilometer on a side and at a minimum altitude of 1 kilometer (Advanced pilots can fly at an altitude-minimum of 100 meters).

There are five judges, including two on the ground at the box corners who check for compliance, and they ding pilots severely on points if they stray.

The planes are powerful and built for stress. It’s not uncommon to see planes doing a 240-mph nose-dive with a 9-G pull-up. Some of the aircraft can pull 23-g’s both positive AND negative. By way of reference, astronauts pull “only” 4-5 g’s after a rocket launch. Expect to see precision maneuvers such as the Double Hammerhead (see graphic).

Last year, a Freestyle Performance Finale treated onlookers to music in sync with his performance. Pilots put on a great show of their individual design. They’ll probably repeat that contest this year.

So bring a chair, binoculars, and your own food and refreshments, and see these pilots perform in what is usually a stunning aerobatic contest here in Borrego Springs.

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