Borrego Sun - Since 1949

Akrofest Wow's Again


Last updated 11/9/2023 at 2:21pm

Akrofest 2023 ws back in Borrego Springs with pilots from all over the world competing, showcasing their artistic aerobatic skills in the International Aerobatic Club Chapter 36's annual Akrofest Competition, Oct. 13 and Oct. 14.

The smell of aviation fuel and the sound of planes soaring through the sky took over the Borrego Springs Airport, as the sight of pilots doing death defying stunts wow'd the crowd.

The chapter touts their aerobatic box as "the world's finest aerobatic box – built to CIVA standards, designed to host the world championships, and practically visible from space."

Each year, IAC36 hosts two of the largest aerobatic contests in the country – Hammerhead Round Up and Akrofest; both held in Borrego. Both contests are normally the largest regional contests of the year in the United States.

Over Akrofest weekend, the pilots, many first-time competitors, competed in multiple categories, with precision flying of their very powerful yet agile aircraft, attempting to impress the judges, who were socially distanced across the runway at the Borrego Valley Airport, with Chief Judge Michael Church at the helm, along with a dozen non-flying volunteers.

Some maneuvers proved difficult for pilots as they attempted to be as perfect as possible, trying to stay within the box to complete a set pattern, as glitches, no matter how tiny, whether it is a slightly too early turn or flying out of the box, can cost them points. Advanced pilots are able to fly at an altitude-minimum of 100 meters, along with nose-dive stunts.

One of the most anticipated categories was the four-minute freestyle, which has no limit to the number of style of figures that can be flown with smoke and music in order to add points for presentation. The competition consists of flying for four minutes. Any long or shorter could be subject to penalties that can drop a pilot from first to last. However chaotic it may look to the spectator, it is judged to standards like the rest of the competition.

The International Aerobatic Club is a national organization that promotes the sport of precision aerobatics. IAC is organized into local chapters that provide training and host contests. IAC 36 is the chapter for Southern California.

IAC 36 was founded in 1975. Hundreds of pilots have started their aerobatic careers with us and many of them have gone on to compete at the world championships, and is also one of the most active chapters in the country.