9-27-05 - The air above Grayson County Airport is abuzz with activity this week, as pilots near and far compete in the U.S. National Aerobatics Championships.
Ninety pilots board tiny planes and soar hundreds of feet into the air as they perform loops and spins before a panel of judges on the ground. The pilots range from professional pilots to doctors and lawyers.
“You either love it or hate it. There are very few people out there who feel mediocre about flying,” says Julia Wood, a competitor from North Texas.
The Championships have been held in Grayson County since 1972. What keeps them coming back: pilots say the conditions in the skies and on the ground at the old Perrin Air Force Base are almost always perfect for flying. Because no FAA-mandated safety guidelines exist for the competition, the flyers have formed a close-knit community.
“We watch each other, go up with each other. If we see someone doing something we're not comfortable with, we talk to them on the ground,” says Wood.
The competition runs through Friday and is free for those who want to watch. The planes take off to begin competition each morning around 9 a.m. and fly until dusk. They are competing for titles in five different categories, as well as the chance to represent the United States at the World Championships in October.