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Red Book Review - March

Posted by tl3
Posted on 3/6/2017

March 2017 Issue 2 - Layers of Complexity

Anyone fortunate enough to have survived one of my judging school diatribes is certain to have heard the phrase “layers of complexity.” So what exactly does that mean? Well, I’ll elaborate, lucky you eh?

“Layers of complexity” refers to the many different facets of the judging task you face when watching an aircraft attempt to duplicate what is on the flimsy in front of you. So let’s take a closer look at some of the general layers.

Layer one: Geometry. All aerobatic figures have a base geometric shape which the aircraft is supposed to reproduce through its flight path. Some, such as a line or loop, are relatively simple, while others contain multiple lines, radii, and angles and are much more complex. Regardless of the figure’s degree of complexity, the basic geometric shape must be represented in the air. Of course, line length, altitude, loop radii, etc. may be very different from one pilot to the next which means the same figure will vary from pilot to pilot, but the basic geometry must be present.

Layer two: Internal geometry. This is where knowing the criteria for the Aresti Families becomes important. Some figures must have matching internal components - part loops or line lengths - while others that appear very similar do not. For example, a vertical up-line and a square loop share some common features but have very different judging criteria with respect to the figure’s internal geometry.

Layer three: Wind correction. Every line flown and every component of the base figure - lines, radii; turns - must be properly wind corrected such that they are flown with true vertical, horizontal, or 45 degree flight paths.

Layer four: Radii / part loop rules. Nearly all aerobatic figures include part loops, some as many as eight. Every part loop within a figure must be examined individually for its adherence, or lack thereof in some cases, to the part loop rules.

Layer five: Element Centering. Families 1 and 5 - 8 all contain lines on which roll elements may appear. Anytime a roll element is placed on an interior line it must be centered on said line. In other words the line lengths before and after the roll element must be of equal length. Note, that last point was length, as opposed to duration. Simple horizontal lines and spins are excluded from this criterion as by definition they are not interior lines.

Layer six: Rotational elements really can be broken out into several layers themselves, but for simplicity sake I’ll lump them all together. When roll elements appear on lines they must be of the proper type and executed in the correct degree of rotation. Combination elements will be required by the Aresti to be in the same or opposite direction of one another. With the exception of times when the aircraft is stalled, roll elements are subject to the very same wind correction and tracking criteria that apply to any line or part loop. Once you have determined whether or not the roll element has met all the aforementioned criteria, then you also must account for under or over rotations at completion and at each and every point if it’s a hesitation roll. If you’re dealing with snap rolls or spins, you must determine whether or not the elements meet the specific criteria for those rolls, and if so does the element maintain its proper condition through completion of the rotation.

So, why does all this matter? Proficient judges are masters of multi-tasking. It is a relatively simple task to systematically examine all the intricacies of a single aerobatics figure, until it happens in real time on the flight line, and, oh yeah, there are nine more of them. Regardless of how well acquainted with the rulebook you are, judging is a skill that is learned and developed over time, layer by layer. With more practice, more layers become innate and automatic thereby freeing the conscious mind to see and account for ever finer details.

I listed six (6) general layers of complexity: Geometry, Internal Geometry, Wind Correction, Radii / Part Loops, Element Centering, and Rotational Elements. In reality all of these occur simultaneously and consequently must be accounted for simultaneously. For this very reason, whether you’ve been to fifteen, or none, attending judging schools is a crucial part of developing and enhancing your judging skills. So seek out a school near you, review the online series, or both, and do please bring your “beginners mind.”

Quick Quiz: What are the four maneuvers that do not require wind correction while the aircraft is in a stalled or partially stalled state?

February Quick Quiz Answer: How many points must be deducted when a roll element that is required to be centered on a line is flown with either no line before or no line after the roll element?

Before or = Four (4)

Upcoming Judging Schools by Region

Northeast: Stay Tuned


March 11 - 12: Triple Tree Judging School, Woodruff, SC. Contact: Phyllis or Charles Youngblood: email

March 11 - 12: Clover Creek Judging School, Toone, TN. Contact - Gil Major: email

March 25 - 26: North Carolina Judging School, Welcome, NC. Contact - Steve Sides: email

North Central:

April 22 - 23: North Central IMAC Judging School, Muncie IN. Contact - Mike Karnes: email

South Central -

March 18 - 19: LA Judging School, Shreveport, LA. Contact Rich Whitlow: email

Northwest -

Southwest - Stay Tuned

International - Stay Tuned

From the Archives image

Most of us have been to one, two or more judging schools. We hear the instructors talking about wind correction and what true 45 degree lines should look like. When we sit in the chair as judges, do we really pay attention to these particular 45 degree lines? With the changes in the rulebook for 2015/2016 having taken out matching most of the radii for figures, the judges should be spending more time in catching anomalies in matching line lengths, and wind correction. A true 45 degree line (without any wind) the airplane should present a visual such as this image shows:

Bobby Folsom, from the SC Region, sent me this photo with a device that they use to get it right.

Also, it is very important that we observe when there is a down wind and upwind variation in the lines. The track / flight path of the 45 degree line is what we must judge and not the attitude that the airplane is presenting (see below illustrations).  What method(s) do you use to arrive at judging the lines when you sit in the chair?













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