Since VCAP's early months as YSMAA, I've enforced a rule that we won't allow "duplicate" displays to be registered for any of our events. What this means is that, for example, while Hornet is flying the Navy Rhino demo team, we won't allow anyone else to create another of the same team simply by, say, choosing to fly it with a different squadron. More broadly, we also reserve the power to enforce this rule on displays that have too much in common in terms of profiles, meaning that you also (ostensibly) couldn't fly a Rhino demo by using a different aircraft besides the F-18. We've put this rule in place to try and inspire at least some level of variety among the pilots who come and fly at our events.
Well... it hasn't really worked to that effect.
Back in 2014, VNAF One, then co-leader of the YS aerobatics circuit, posted this thread concerning the makeup of airshow schedules at that point in time. His commentary continues to resonate now:
On some level, this thread has been in the back of my mind for a long time, but it seemed for a while that we would maintain just enough variety to stay comfortable. After all, last year's El Centro 1992 is still my favorite VCAP show to date, as we had a good mix of aircraft types. However, I've really been feeling VNAF's commentary since January's Helgoland Fly-In. That, of course, was the mini-show where all four of the entered aircraft were fighter jets, and two of them were F-16s.VNAF ONE wrote: ↑Thu May 22, 2014 8:28 pm I've been a part of YS air shows for several years now and the main thing I (and everyone else for that matter) notice is that everyone signs up solo jet demos all the time.
This isn't necessarily a problem because it's still good to see an active aerobatic community, but it'd be nice to see more variety. There are about a billion and a half addons for YS and many of them aren't jets. Personally, I'm growing tired of seeing the same jets at our air shows. It's not that hard to find another aircraft to get into. We should see more warbirds, heavies, civies, etc. Of course having a few jets is perfectly fine, but when everyone wants to sign up and fly an F-15/16/18/22/Typhoon/Flanker/Tornado and we end up with most if not all of <those<, there's what I'm talking about.
Don't quote me on this, but I think the main problem is people find the jets so much easier to fly and make a demo out of. I would just like to see more effort put into aerobatics. There's a ton of ideas floating around out there and I know you guys are very creative and can come up with some cool stuff. I've seen a bit and can tell some of you vets are trying, but I still see lots of the new guys buzzing past show center in yet another crazy mach 1 jet demo that everyone has seen before. I'd like to see as many aerobatic demos in piston planes as I see fighter jets. That would make me happy.
And, if Helgoland weren't already a big enough red flag, these problems really reared their head with last weekend's outing at Sacheon:
The two prop aircraft are a welcome addition to the bunch... but alongside three F-18s, two F-16s, an F-14, an F-35, a MiG-31, and an F-20, leaving 9 of the 11 live flying acts as 4th and 5th gen fighter jets?
No. This is out of hand. Even our small community needs to set some standards and draw a line somewhere.
I'll fully admit to having at least some hand in this, as a guy whose two signature solo acts are both fighter jet-based as well. As aerobatics lead, it's up to me to set the community's example on this front, and to this point, I've failed at that job. That's exactly why I plan on branching out more into warbird and/or civilian aerobatics (while limiting myself to only entering, at most, one of the two jets per event) going forward. I've been sitting on a handful of different projects to workshop for quite a while, at least a couple of which you might be seeing take off in the near future.
That being said... We at VCAP staff are making a change in policy that, while it's likely going to sting for many folks, we feel we can't sidestep any longer:
We are putting an official moratorium on the creation of any new solo acts using fourth and fifth-gen fighter aircraft. This includes the F-15, F-16, F-18, F-22, F-35, Su-57, Typhoon, Flanker family, and other aircraft of that type. This is not a decision that we make lightly, but it's become all too clear that an incentive, for both veterans and newcomers, to move out of all of our comfort zones has been due for some time now. We hope to be able to roll back this rule in the future, but if we want to keep events dynamic and inviting for our community, we have to institute a change of course for what we'll accept in this period of time.
(Note that this change will, for the most part, not affect any already-established acts, or those which are currently known to VCAP to be in their pre-launch phases (i.e. Speaker's upcoming F-35 team). This also will not apply to multi-ship teams, which are still free to use the aircraft of their choosing.)
We're sorry that we've reached this point, everyone, but this decision has been a long time coming. It's time for all of us to regroup and rethink, and hopefully, come out on the other end of this as a refreshed and more energized community.
We'll be announcing the next VCAP show not too long from now, so to you pilots planning on taking part: let's do this!