Aerobatic Contestants Soar in Weekend Skies

Air Force Academy Cadets Waiting for Winds to Die Down

Sunday proved to be the best of the three days for about three dozen aeronautic acrobat flyers who were in Lamar over the weekend. The annual Colorado Springs Chapter of the International Aerobatic Chapter conducted their Rocky Mountain Invitational meet at the Lamar Airport this past Friday through Sunday.

Area residents quickly became familiar with the thrum of airplane engines over the town, especially on Sunday, when the weather was most favorable. Tow planes were constantly spotted over Lamar, as they gave a literal lift to glider planes from the Colorado Springs Air Force Academy. The planes would circle west of town in ever-increasing arcs as the gliders gained altitude to make their flights. About a dozen Air Force Cadets and flight instructors took part in the competition, but strong winds and low clouds on Friday and Saturday reduced the number of flights they could take. Sunday turned out to be the day everyone was waiting for.

Jamie Treat, the Invitational organizer said, “Lamar has an excellent airport and the lowest altitude of any public airport in Colorado which makes it a perfect location for us.” Treat has been coming to Lamar since 2003 and likes the town, stating, “All of us appreciate the friendliness, and we turn the economy up a bit with food, gas and motels while we’re here. David Payne, the airport FBO also does a great job for us while we’re here.” Treat said there are some 50 similar Invitationals around the country each year, and the Chapter 12 flyers from Denver were in Lamar about three weekends ago. “This type of competition attracts all kinds of flyers from the region, and this weekend, we have national champion flyers from Australia, Germany and Russia. Our oldest flyer is 82, and he’s had to downgrade his level of competition recently, but he placed first in a meet just three weeks ago, Treat said.”

The Air Force Academy cadets had their four gliders grounded late Friday afternoon due to the high winds. They said they fly in two classes, altitude and distance, and although they had to wait for better weather on Sunday, there were several tow planes aloft, pulling the gliders to their needed altitude before they could release their cable and silently slip over the High Plains.

by Russ Baldwin


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