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The sport of competition aerobatics is known to very few people and often confused with air show aerobatics.Competition aerobatics started in Europe not soon after the airplane had been invented. Pilots would meet at various competitions in an airshow type atmosphere and compete with the judging done by other pilots, local celebrities or sometimes by the applause of the crowd.

Eventually the judging became more regimented and all the recognized aerobatic maneuvers (figures) had been cataloged by the competition aerobatics governing body, the FAI.(Federation Aeronautic International) A system to write down a sequence of maneuvers was developed by a great aerobatic pilot of the era, Spanish Airforce Colonel Luis Jose Aresti. We now write our sequences in this format/language known as Aresti.

Aerobatic competition is now divided into five categories: Primary, Sportsman, Intermediate, Advanced and Unlimited. The complexity of the figures increases in each category as does the requirement for a more capable machine especially in the Unlimited catagory .Aerobatic flying is judged by the precision of each figure with regards to a uniform judging standard.

The sport of competition aerobatics is simi liar to figure skating,diving or gymnastics with regard to the actual competition. Pilots in all categories fly a "known" or compulsory flight which is a pre-determined sequence of maneuvers tailored for that particular catagory.The Knowns are published at the beginning of the competition year so all have ample time to practice them. Pilots in the Intermediate,Advanced and& Unlimited categories also fly a Freestyle flight that they can design themselves.The freestyle must include certain figures considered typical of the category being flown and must add up to a certain point (K) value. Figures are assigned a (K) value based on the complexity and difficulty of performing the figure.

In addition to the Freestyle flight pilots in the upper three categories that we speak of in the above paragraph also fly a Unknown flight.This is a sequence that is given to the pilots on the weekend of the competition.They have never seen it before and are not allowed to practice it.They fly it for the first time in the " Aerobatic Box" in front of the judges.It can include any figures considered typical to it's competition category.

The aerobatic box is a block of airspace 1000x1000x1000 meters or about 3300 feet squared. It is the competition arena with the judges area just outside of the competition box on the ground to grade the flights. Pilots are allowed to fly to various low altitude limits based on category, each category having a different low altitude limit.For example a Sportsman competitor is only allowed down to 1500 feet in his sequence.If he finds himself below that altitude he or she is disqualified for the flight and in the interest of safety is told to break it off and land by the chief judge. The Unlimited competitor being at the highest skill level is allowed down to 100 meters or 328 feet.

The World Series or Superbowl of aerobatics is held every four years in a different host country.It is known as the World Aerobatic Championships and flown at the Unlimited level. The winner is of this competition is the World Champion.