So what’s a Caller??

Posted by Ron Graham
Posted on 11/27/2015

Last in a series by Bill Teeter – NC Assistant Regional Director 

DSC_0525I will just briefly mention the concept of the “Caller”.

When you go to the line to fly in front of the judges you will need someone who will stand behind or beside you and remind you what the next maneuver is in the sequence. At first it may be difficult to remember all the maneuvers in the right order. Your Caller will work with you and “call them out” just in advance of you flying them. Choose a caller well in advance of your flight so that you have time to go through the sequence and identify any specific details or names of the figures. The Caller also serves to communicate to the judges, to introduce you and to tell them which direction you will be flying. They also help watch other airplane traffic, making sure the runway is clear for you to takeoff or land.

It’s always safe idea

to use a caller to help hold your plane on start-up and retrieve once you have landed.resize brian chuck

It is vitally important that at your first contest you find someone who is an experienced Caller. Don’t just ask the other “new guy”. Having an experienced Caller can help you a lot to understand the routine and to calm your nerves. Don’t be afraid to ask an experienced pilot in a higher class to help call for you. 95% of the time you should get a positive response. The only reason someone may not be able to help is if they are assigned judging duties or are flying or calling on the other line. Someone will surely help you. Just ask!

Don’t rely on only one Caller.

Perhaps at your first contest a consistent Caller would be helpful. However there are times when your Caller may have to fly or judge at the same time you are flying. It is good practice to have several Callers available to you. Be prepared in advance as you may be “next up”.

Eventually, once you see how it goes and how the protocol works, you too can volunteer to be a Caller. Calling is a skill that you will want to develop. It is very common for competitors in the same class to call for each other. Later in the season, I often get newer pilots to call for me once I have the sequence well memorized. It serves to expand their learning experience and increase their comfort level with Aresti. I am not worried if they make an error because I should know the sequence well by that point in the season.

What about Judging?

Don’t worry about judging at your first contest. CD’s typically create a judging matrix basedTeeter Imac 4 on experience. New pilots will likely not be asked to judge until they have more experience or until they have attended a Judging School or Seminar. Not one is forced to judge if they are not comfortable or knowledgeable of the judging criteria. It is also not fair to the pilots competing to have judges that are beyond their element.

What about the Competition? Well, my very best advice to new pilots is, “forget about the other pilots”. You really would be best served by developing the attitude that you are flying against yourself. It does not matter if you come last, or first or somewhere in between. You are at the contest to improve your piloting skills, first and foremost. Your primary goal is to learn and have fun. If you happen to get a plaque or certificate, great! But I would tell you sincerely, when starting out, to forget about where you place as compared to other pilots.

After you have flown in a few contests you can get competitive if you wish. However, I am a strong believer that IMAC is about “friendly competition” and self-improvement. Sure you will hear pilots kidding or joking with each other, you may hear friendly “trash talk”, but it is all in good fun. When you become an experienced IMAC pilot and move up to higher levels and perhaps fly in National or even World competitions, then you can worry about where you place and how you stand compared to other pilots. For now you are learning about flying IMAC and having fun. The last thing you should worry about is trophies and “winning”.

There is much more that could be written about protocols and how contests work, however my goal with this article was to introduce enough concepts to help make your first contest a success.

It cannot be overstated that you will learn much more by flying than just watching. Jump in and ask for help, assistance is always available. No one expects you to fly perfectly at your first contest. No matter how many mistakes you make the other pilots will help you. The main thing is to come out and give it a try – at a minimum you will have fun, improve your skills and make many new friends.DSC_0568

- Bill Teeter resides near Guelph, Ontario. He has been flying for 15 years and participated in IMAC competitions for the past 9 years, presently competing at the Intermediate Level. He is one of the NCFR Assistant RD’s for Ontario. Bill has a special interest in judging and is an NCFR Judging Instructor who has delivered or assisted with the delivery of several judging schools in both the U.S. and Canada. Promoting IMAC and helping new pilots is one of his personal goals.