All Posts by Grant Benns

MercerComps Q2/2021

Check the dates –

Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th of July, with a weather delay the following weekend (July 31st/August 1st).

…but this isn’t the date to enter, just the last date for entries! Please help make it easy for the organisers by entering early – there is paperwork to print.

Have you sorted your Free/Free Known for the new season? This must be submitted with your entry.

News Flash – there is now avgas at Mercer, accessed with your enabled BP Fuel Card.

Contact Grant for more info – 0210629929 or

MercerComps Q2/2021

When: July 24th/25th, 2021, Briefing 9am both days

Where: Mercer Airport

The second round (Q2…second quarter of 2021) of the MercerComps is planned for July 24th and 25th. The weather delay date is the following weekend, July 31st and August 1st.

If you have never competed or flown in front of judges (or a crowd), this is your chance to give it a go. Plenty of help and advise available, on the website (look under Artilces) and over the weekend. Don’t be shy, or intimidated – we all have to start somewhere, and the relaxed and casual MercerComps is the place to learn and grow.

If you don’t or can’t fly, please feel free to come along and watch – we always need helpers too, so register as a volunteer/helper and get involved.

The new sequences have been set (find them on OpenAero/Library/2022/NZAC and on our website), so this is your first chance to use them in the heat of competition.

The plan is to fly 3 sequences each, as follows:

  1. First Flight – 2021/2022 ‘Known’
  2. Second Flight – Free (Primary/Rec/Sports) / Free Known (Int/Adv/Unl – CIVA 2021)
  3. Third Flight – Unknown

Contact me for more info – 0210629929 or

Grant Benns – Contest Director

2021/2022 Season Sequences

The competition sequences for our 2021/2022 season have now been finalized. 

For those members new (and not so new) wishing to partake in various upcoming NZAC events, below is a summary of ‘Programs’ of competition, and how they relate to the published sequences. More detailed information is available in the NZAC rules, which can be found on the NZAC website. 

Note – not every aerobatic event/competition will include all the programs listed below, so check the event notification as to which programs and sequences will be flown. 

Program 1 – ‘The Known Compulsory Program’ 

Every competitor in a particular category will fly the same Known Compulsory sequence, and with ample practice given the early availability of the sequences! 

Sequences for the Known Compulsory Program can be seen and downloaded from two sources:

NZAC website – then choose the appropriate sequences for your category under the Sequences drop down

OpenAero – (Library / 2022 / NZAC).  Note – OpenAero works best using the Google Chrome browser.

The Primary sequence for next season has changed! We have removed the 180-turn and put in a stall-turn, which should help with energy/spped for the following airleron roll (and make it more interestng).

Recreational remains unchanged. For Sports we have produced our own bespoke sequnce – enjoy.

For Intermediate to Unlimited we have adopted the International Aerobatic Club sequences from their 2021 season. 

Program 2 – ‘The Free Program’ 

Sequences have different requirements depending on which category you are competing in – read this carefully!

  • Primary competitors MUST fly the Program 1 Known Compulsory sequence again. 
  • Recreational and Sports competitors have the option of EITHER flying the Program 1 sequence again OR creating their own sequence in accordance with the NZAC rules. 
  • Intermediate to Unlimited competitors MUST create their own sequences, using the figures prescribed in Open Aero/Library/2021/CIVA Free Known (applicable category). 

OpenAero is the place to design your sequence, as the ‘rules’ for each category are built-in, meaning only the prescribed/allowable figures and K-factors are available for the category you choose to fly. Pushing the ‘check sequence’ button under the Sequnce drop-down menu is confirmation of compliance with the category rules. 

More info on Open Aero is available from our website under Articles.  

The beauty of the Free Program is that YOU can design the sequence (except in Primary) to suit your plane and your style of flying. And you can practice it to perfection too!

Program 3 – Unknowns 

Only Recreational and above will be required to fly this program.

These top-secret sequences will be provided by the Contest Director at a competition, and cannot be practiced prior to flying.

Program 4 – Free Unknowns

Intermediate to Unlimited only

This program uses a CIVA-based set of rules that allows competitors the freedom to submit, at the competition, 10 base figures that are used to produce an Unknown sequence. Upon agreement of the base figures, competitors then ‘freely’ design a sequence that incorporates all of the selected figures, in a flow that suits them and/or their aircraft. Maybe. 

This sequence also cannot be practiced. Great fun!

Program 5 – 4-minute Free

This is a true ‘freestyle’ program, available only to Advanced, Unlimited or invited pilots to display their skill, flair and art in an airshow-type display that must last 4 minutes, plus or minus nothing..

Loosing a Gentleman

RIP Keith Trillo

Keith Trillo passed away on March 15 aged 81.  He’d been in ill, one way or another, for a long time, but it was leukaemia that finally got him.  Keith was one of the original “dirty dozen” pilots who flew in the first New Zealand Aerobatics Competition way back in 1985.  This is no attempt at an obituary, and no obituary can ever really tell you about someone you’ve known, or would have liked to have known more.  This, then, is but a brief reminiscence mainly from Ray and myself, about a man we knew and would gladly have spent more time with.  In brief, we have lost a gentleman of the air.

Keith was a professional aviator, in every sense of the word.  There’s few whose interest spanned so long and so broadly.   He’d flown Boeing 747s, and he’d flown radio controlled models, and anything in between.  If it had wings he was not just interested but vitally interested, immersed in it, utterly in love with it.

He turned up at the first contest in the plane he built himself, a Pitts S1, EEU – he had white hair even then.  He won the Open class against Merv Meredith and John Luff. In the first few contests our “open” class wouldn’t have been much more complex than Intermediate is today, but it pressed pilots, and what we thought were the cream of aircraft, to their very limits.  We have moved on a long way since the days when most of us arrived in Cessna 152As and tried to do things in them that Mr Cessna would never have conceived of, but there was no doubting who was the best there in ‘85.  

Keith’s biggest impact on the club, however, would come when he moved from flying to the judges’ bench.  It took Ray some years to convince Keith to return as a judge, but he took to that arcane occupation as everything else with aviation, with total commitment and thoroughness.  Most of that time there was the triumvirate of Keith, Marinka and Ray. Marinka and Ray would carefully enter the scores into the computer, and Keith would be in the corner with his calculator checking the computer was adding it all up properly, and that the pair of them hadn’t erred in inputting.  Careful was our Keith.

His care was reflected also when acting as our technical inspector.  No hundred-hour or annual check was more nerve-wracking than Keith’s inspection at a contest.  One time he was delving deep in the back of PPS and told me he could see something down the back but had no idea what it was.  I had a look and knew exactly what it was – a mobile phone specifications label visible only when the battery was removed from the unit.  The phone was jammed against the rudder post.  The battery was found stuck between a longeron and skin. How did they get there?  Why hadn’t they been seen before!?  One thing you were certain of, if Keith was happy, then you could be happy.  He had that a quiet ability to instil knowledge and confidence.

There was a time when the contest was in full swing when Ray had to call  “break break break” on an unlimited pilot at very low altitude who was clearly not going to stop and the next snap roll was going to be underground.  Ray was worried about the consequences back in the club house amongst pilots who are often hyper-competitive and ultra-sensitive AND stressed to the max.  Keith just calmly said  “Correct decision, we will stand with you.  Just think to yourself, if you hadn’t have stopped him what the Court of Enquiry would have to say?”  And of course there was a storm back in the club house, but it was short-lived such was the mana of Keith.  He was always available for some good level headed advice and no pilot in NZAC would go head to head with him over aviation knowledge.  And he was a gentleman. 

Judging, however, can’t keep you forever.  There’s too much to analyse and assess too quickly and there’s the ever-present nagging in your head that you have to be right Every…Single…Time across a thousand manoeuvres judged at any contest.  After decades of being cooked in a Waipukurau paddock for days on end Keith decided he could no longer think fast enough and the time had come to flag it away.

In later years he turned his over-generous enthusiasm to radio controlled models and particularly enjoyed vintage types. It was almost full circle – after all, what was EEU but a scaled up vintage model?

And right now he’s probably in earnest conversation about the perfect landing technique for angel wings.  They won’t be arguing with him.


MercerComps Q1/2021

When: April 17th/18th, 2021, Briefing 9am both days

Where: Mercer Airport

Due to issues with the website, invites were sent to all previous North Island AkroFest competitors and helpers, for the first of our MercerComps series. The intent is to run a MercerComp every quarter, incorporating the North Island AkroFest in the last quarter of the year, so that the North Islanders can up the ante and take it to the Mainlanders!



  1. Pierre Puchon                         Robin 2160 TZF


  1. David Wilkinson                      DR107 EZG
  2. Pierre Puchon                         Robin 2160 TZF


  1. John Ashman                          Giles G202 NUT
  2. David Cranna                          Vans RV7 RVQ
  3. David Wilkinson                      DR107 EZG


  1. David Cranna                           Extra 330LX   XLS
  2. Steve Geard                             Yak 55           YKV
  3. Mike Slack                               Zlin Z50         ZSO


  1. Mo Tull                                   Giles G202 NUT
  2. Grant Benns                            Giles G202 NUT
  3. Brent Griffin                            Giles g202 NUT


Saturday…average in the morning but improving as the day progresses

Sunday…looks great!

Please feel free to come along and watch, even if you haven’t watched.

Contact me for more info – 0210629929

Grant Benns – Contest Director

2021 Nationals Update #5

It’s official! We have, sadly, officially cancelled the 2021 Nationals, due to the obvious circumstances around the Level 3/2 Covid-19 situation. 

Thanks for your entries, enthusiasm and support at this difficult time.

We will work through a process this week of refunding your entry fees.

We will also look at what regional weekend events can be planned before winter descends on us, using your well-practiced sequences of the 2021 Nationals. 

Thanks to those who have put their hands up as volunteer helpers/judges/etc., and particularly to Mike, Mo, and Andy.

Also, a big thanks to Terry for his fantastic 2021 event tee-shirts and trophies – we will see what we can do to get the tee-shirts out to you, perhaps modified in some way (‘Covid-19 Victim’?!).

Take care up there – Grant

2021 Nationals Update #4

Entry Deadline:  Friday 29th January 2021…CLOSED! (But we will let you in, if you are really really quick)

The next deadline is the submission of your Free/Free Knowns:

Friday 5th February 2020

And here is the most up-to-date competitor list:

Return of Trophies

If you have a trophy, please PLEASE bring it back with you (suitably engraved), or get it back to the event with somebody…anybody.

For this year…

  • At the event, we will have a minivan for transport around the airfield, and to and from your accommodation.
  • There will be an LLDA refresher for those who need one.
  • We will have the Awards Dinner on Saturday night.
  • You must be wearing a hi-viz vest or jacket when on an operational area (buy or acquire one now).
  • We will be asking everybody to sign-in, or to use their Covid-19 Tracer App, each day so that we comply with MoH guidelines.
The 2020 NZ Aerobatic Club Nationals (happier times, pre-Covid 19)

The Thrill of Competition Aerobatics – Race-craft

For all competitors, have a read of the following article, published in Kiwi Flyer and available on our website under Articles, which talks about your prep and ‘race-craft’, which in the motorsport world can be defined as:

‘The total of a racer’s skill (craft) along dimensions including: practicing, qualifying, starts, beginning, mid-race and end-race pace, passing, wear equipment usage, and pit strategy.’


The most common mistake many pilots make is not starting their sequence with enough energy (height and/or speed), so think about what you speed and height need at your first maneuver and STICK TO IT!

Also, if you take a break at any stage (highly recommended in the lower categories), use this break to best effect – CLIMB CLIMB CLIMB and get back to a good great start point for the recommencing of your sequence.


Call or email me for more info if needed – Grant Benns

(Contest Director/Organiser) 0210629929

2021 Nationals Update #3

Entry Reminder

Just 9 days to go till the entry cutoff for our 2021 Nationals.

Have you completed your entry?

Entry Deadline:  Friday 29th January 2021

Free/Free Known Sequence submission close: Friday 5th February 2020

Late entries might be accepted, but only at the whim of the Contest Director – bribes may be accepted in gold bullion, effective Covid-19 vaccines (not Sputnic 5), or pineapple lumps.

Remember, it is far preferable for you to enter and withdraw (with a full refund of entry fee) at a later date than to leave your entry to the last minute… the printing of sequences and scoring sheets is no small task for our volunteers.

Please help us make this a great event.

2021 Nationals – Update #2

In this update:

  • A call for volunteers
  • Info on how to compose and check your Free Knowns (Intermediate, Advanced and Unlimited).
  • Free composition for Rec and Sports
  • Entry Close-off dates


Our events run on volunteers to carry out ground duties.

No ground ‘staff’ = no pilots flying.

As part of the entry process, competitors are asked if they are available to volunteer for ground duties. For those of you wishing to attend but not compete, we would love (and NEED) your help, as a:

Judge / Judge’s Assistant / Scribe / Starter / Spotter / General Dog’s Body.

For ALL attendees – competitors and non-competitors – please let me know ASAP, by email or text, if you are willing and able to help in one of these roles.

Free Known composition

For those of you flying Int/Adv/Unlimited, this is to clarify how to produce and check your 2021 Free Known (Int/Adv/Unknown) using OpenAero.

Select Library>2020>CIVA>(your category). You will then be asked if you want to open the Free(Un)known designer – I would suggest you do as it makes roughing out your sequence easier. You can always fine-tune the sequence after pushing ‘Finalize Sequence’.

Before you ‘Check sequence’, ensure you have the correct Rules and Program selected in the yellow Sequence Info area. This must be set to Rules>NZAC and Program>Free Known.

Clear as mud? If not, contact me.

Free Composition

If you are new to our comps, and/or want to have a crack at designing you own (optional) Free sequence, you will need to acquaint yourself with OpenAero, ideally using the Chrome browser.

You will find on our website a Kiwi Flyer article on OpenAero basics – look in Articles>Aero Sequencing.

Using a blank sequence, in the yellow Sequence Info box, ensure you have set Class>Power, Rules>NZAC, Category>Recreational (or Sports) and Program>Free. By doing this, you have now restricted OpenAero to only allow those figures and total difficulty (K) factor you are entitled to use.

The red Alerts box will tell what you are missing, lacking or exceeding . The aim of the game is to have the maximum allowable total K-factor (currently 140K) spread as evenly as you can across the maximum of 12 figures. Pick figures you know, have practiced and can fly consistently well.

When you have finished, selecting Sequence>Check Sequence will confirm you have done everything right.

Here is an example I whipped up, for your inspiration (use?):

Entry Deadline:  Friday 29th January 2021

Free/Free Known Sequence submission close: Friday 5th February 2020

Late entries might be accepted, but only at the whim of the Contest Director – bribes may be accepted in gold bullion, effective Covid-19 vaccines (not Sputnic 5), or pineapple lumps.

Remember, it is far preferable for you to enter and withdraw (with a full refund of entry fee) at a later date than to leave your entry to the last minute… the printing of sequences and scoring sheets is no small task for our volunteers.


Call or email me for more info if needed – Grant Benns (Contest Director/Organiser) 0210629929

2021 Nationals – Update #1

The NZ Aerobatic Club Nationals will take place from 3rd-6th March 2021 at Masterton Airport.

Nationals Entries are open NOW via electronic entry form here.

Entry Fees are unchanged from 2020:

Primary $120

Rec and Sports $180

Intermediate, Advanced and Unlimited $240

Note that you must also be a paid up member of the NZAC ($35p.a.) to enter.

Entry Deadline:  Friday 29th January 2021

Free/Free Known Sequence submission close: Friday 5th February 2020

Late entries might be accepted, but only at the whim of the Contest Director – bribes may be accepted in gold bullion, effective Covid-19 vaccines (not Sputnic 5), or pineapple lumps.

Remember, it is far preferable for you to enter and withdraw (with a full refund of entry fee) at a later date than to leave your entry to the last minute… the printing of sequences and scoring sheets is no small task for our volunteers.


Known sequences to be flown for our 2021 event are available on our website/Sequence and in OpenAero under Library>2021>NZAC. 

Free Known figures/information for Int/Adv/Unlimited can be found on our website/Sequences and OpenAero Library>2020>CIVA. Ensure you use the 2020 (not 2021) Free Known figures for our 2020/21 summer season.

Free sequences for Rec and Sports, if you choose to design your own, must be designed on OpenAero by selecting Power / Rules>NZAC / Program>Free.

Before submitting your sequence as part of your entry process please Check Sequence in OpenAero. You can enter but then send your Fee/Free Known latter if you wish, but no latter than January 29th.

For those competing in Int/Adv/Unlimited, put some thought into your Free Unknown figures BEFORE YOU ARRIVE!


Scan or photograph your required documents as part of the on-line entry process. No docs, no fly.

EVENT TIMETABLE (subject to wx)

Mon 1st – Tue 2nd Mar: Arrivals/ Unofficial Practice.

Wed 3rd Mar: 0800 Briefing / 0900 Official Practice / Lunch / 1300 Competition Start – Known sequences / 1800 Box closed and bar opens / Welcome BBQ at the Wairarapa Aero Club.

Thurs 4th Mar: 0800 Briefing / 0900 Knowns and Free Knowns / Lunch – AGM / 1300 Free Knowns / 1800 Box closed and bar opens / 1900 Free Unknown design session (with pizza).

Fri 5th Mar: 0800 Briefing / 0900 Unknowns and Free Unknowns / Lunch – LLDA course / 1400 Unknowns and Free Unknowns / 1800 Box closed and bar opens.

Sat 6th Mar: 0900 Briefing / 1000 mop-up of un-flown sequences, 4 Minute Freestyle and Air-race / when finished, Box closed/pack-up / 1900 Dinner and prize giving – location TBA.

Sun 7th Mar : 0900-1300 possible last competition flights if required. Tidy up club, equipment and depart for home.


Call or email me for more info if needed – Grant Benns (Contest Director/Organiser) 0210629929