USAARL Research Optometrist Wins Aerobatic Competition
Dr. William McLean is a part-time research optometrist working at the U.S. Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory at Fort Rucker, Ala., who enjoys figure flying in his aerobatic airplane.
McLean recently competed in the Sebring Fall International Aerobatic Club, Chapter 23 event Nov. 2 and won first place in the sportsman category, first place overall sportsman, and the grass roots award for receiving the highest score for an aircraft with 180 horsepower or less.
"I have been flying since 1957," said McLean. "I've always wanted to own an aerobatic airplane and compete in an IAC contest, so in 2004, I scratched a major item off of my bucket list and bought my first aerobatic plane, and have since put over 700 hours on it."
The IAC's aerobatic competitors are graded by a team of judges who, based on the aerobatic figures the pilot flies, look for precision of the lines and angles, symmetry of figures, and other factors spelled out in the IAC official contest rules.
Competitors with powered aircraft can participate in five categories known as primary, sportsman, intermediate, advanced, and unlimited. Each category of competitors flies a different set of sequences with varying degrees of difficulty.
The Sebring event consisted of three categories, which included three competitors in the sportsman category, seven in the intermediate category, and two in the unlimited category.
This event was McLean's fourth contest as an IAC competitor, but was his first time receiving first place. His previous highest award was in Keystone, Fla. in 2011 where McLean won second place against 11 competitors.
So when you look to the skies, and the weather is good, don't be surprised if you see McLean soaring through the air in looping, rolling, and vertical figures.