Lamar Airport Hosts Collegiate Aerial Competition


Metro State Pilots Prepare for Lift-Off


The Lamar Municipal Airport played host to various collegiate flying teams this past weekend, October 5th and 6th, including the glider competition team from the Air Force Academy, students from Metro State University from Denver as well as competitors from the University of North Dakota who made the long trek to participate.

Air Force Academy Glider

Jamie Treat, Academy Advisor for the Academy team, said the weekend competition would be between sportsman and intermediate, although there are four total categories including primary and advanced. As many as 30 persons were in Lamar for the weekend including ten from Metro State University.  Individual awards were presented for individual competition and for overall performance.  Other categories included highest scoring biplane, grassroots awards for low horsepower planes and American Champion Aircraft.

Riesellmann Prepares His Pitt

Charlie Riesellmann flew in from Greeley in his Pitts Special airplane. He’s been flying for several years now and has owned several aircraft.  The Pitts is named for its creator, Curtis Pitts, who developed these planes for aerial competition in the mid 1940s.  They are either single or two-seater models, that are considerably shorter and have been used in world aerobatic competition since they made their breakthrough in the 1960s and 1970s.

Metro State on the Runway

Treat said Lamar is usually his airport of choice, “We’ve been doing this since about 2003 and October is the perfect time to come down. The skies are clear and dry and it’s a bit cooler as well.”  He said, Lamar is one of three places in Colorado that are on his list.  “At about 3,700 feet altitude, this is the lowest level airport in the state which makes for great conditions for competition.  The air is denser.  You have to work harder at higher altitudes where you start to lose engine and airfoil performance.”  He added that Eric and Tanya McSwan have done a great job at FBOs at Lamar.  “It’s always an inviting place and we appreciate the clean facility and clean hangers.”

Other Competitors Ready their Aircraft

He explained that the competition takes place at 2,000 feet or higher above the airport and the planes will stay within a cubic box from 3,300 cubic meters up and across for their flying maneuvers. If you go outside those areas, you lose points as you’re judged on your lines and angles from flying a prescribed course, not unlike what competitive skaters will do in mandatory rounds.  There are three scoring judges, plus a chief judge and a person who is responsible for regulating the air traffic.  The glider pilots are judged for soaring for distance and in aerobatics competition as well.  They have to be in their second year at the Academy in order to train for the gliders.  When asked what’s it like once they’re released their tether from the control plane, they said, “It’s just as quiet as you could imagine, there’s a hiss or wind rushing by and then you’re on your own.”

Risellmann said at one point there will be three aircraft flying with one in competition and two stay on the outskirts of the box, ready to enter and take their turn at their performance once the previous plane has finished. Treat says he appreciates the way the Lamar airport assists when these events are held.  “The city is coming out with picnic tables this afternoon and the airport has a barbecue planned for all the flyers later in the afternoon.”  He said everyone is keeping an eye on the skies as cloud cover was starting to roll in from the east about 15-20 mph that Saturday afternoon. “Once we get cover like that, it’ll call a halt to the competition from lack of visibility.”
by Russ Baldwin

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