The International Aerobatic Club, Inc. is an independent corporation (although often referred to as a division of Experimental Aircraft Association, Inc.). All IAC members are required to be members of Experimental Aircraft Association, Inc. Membership in EAA is open to all who are interested in aviation.
The IAC is also a division of the National Aeronautic Association and is responsible for the administration, management, and promotion of the sport of aerobatics in the United States under the applicable regulations of the Federation Aeronautique Internationale; Lausanne, Switzerland. FAI is the world governing body for all sport aviation competitions and record attempts. IAC represents the United States at meetings of the FAI Aerobatics Commission (CIVA) which establishes rules worldwide for aerobatic competitions.
The core purpose of the International Aerobatic Club is to promote and enhance the safety and enjoyment of sport aerobatics through the following core values:
- Openness and Inclusiveness
- A Passion and Responsibility to Educate and Share our Knowledge both inside and outside the IAC
- A Commitment and Responsibility to Safety and Excellence in every aspect of our Sport
- Fair Play and Sportsmanship
To improve and expand its current activities and develop new programs so that the IAC is recognized as the premier aerobatic organization. As a result, the IAC will have a larger membership comprised of a traditional core constituency as well as new members representing a wide variety of sport aerobatic interests. Improved and increased individual participation and volunteerism will exist among all members. The IAC's leadership will be well-skilled champions of our Core Purpose and Values, and respected by the membership
In order to achieve its vision, the IAC has identified five goals that lay the groundwork for the organization.
1. Gain a better understanding of who our members are, identifying their needs in order to adjust our action plans and resource allocation (human and financial) accordingly.
2. Tailor programs to the needs of our members by enhancing core programs and creating new programs which meet the defined needs.
3. Be the world's leading authority on aerobatic safety.
4. Be the world leader in aerobatic education.
5. Attract, develop, and retain well-skilled leadership (Officers, Directors, Volunteers, and Paid Staff) who share our Core Values and are passionately dedicated to our Core Purpose.
The IAC is led by a 15-member Board of Directors including four officers, President, Vice President, Treasurer, and Secretary - and 11 Directors each representing a geographical region of the U.S. and world as well as representatives from EAA and NAA.
The aerobatic division of the EAA, first called the "Precision Flying Division", was headed by Bill Dodd of Prairie View, Illinois. Its purpose was to promote safety and to be a central point for pilots to join with each other in sharing information. The Precision Flying Division continued until 1969 and Bill Dodd was succeeded by Jim Morgan of Crystal Lake, Illinois until that year.
The IAC was formed in 1970 under the leadership of Bob Heuer, an airline pilot from Maple Park, Illinois, and a group of aerobatic pilots mostly from the Chicago area. Their purpose was to formalize the EAA's Precision Flying Division into a true membership organization, to write the rules and to set up the corporate structure to promote "grass roots" aerobatics. The IAC's original purpose was to encourage the development of the basic skills needed in aerobatic flying through the creation of a "building block" system of aerobatic competition categories - what became the Sportsman, Intermediate, Advanced and Unlimited levels. These categories remain in place today with a Basic (Primary) category added in the mid-1990s.
In its first year, the IAC membership exploded to over 1,000 members. Twenty (20) IAC Chapters were chartered around the United States and Canada. During this critical growth period, Bob Heuer, as the IAC's first President was a key in organizing aerobatic contests all over the North American continent. This secured the IAC's reputation as a leader in the field of sport aerobatics. An international competition, known as the IAC Championships unfolded from what had been known as the "EAA Aerobatic Contest" and was first held in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin - twenty miles from the then newly-relocated EAA Fly-in site in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The IAC Championships later became a mecca for aerobatic enthusiasts from all over the world with the last of the championships held there in 1999. The Championships evolved into a traveling competition known as the "IAC Championships/The Championships of the Americas", a contest recognized by the world air sports body, the Federation Aeronautique Internationale, with the last one held in 2000 in Chandler, Arizona.
Verne Jobst succeeded Bob Heuer as the IAC President in 1973. He continued the basic concept of the club and helped to refine its objectives to keep pace with its growth. Under Jobst, the IAC membership doubled. He continued in office until 1978.
As the club's third President, Carl Bury is credited with improving the internal administration of the IAC and conceiving ideas on fund raising. The real start of the IAC's merchandising program began under his tenure. During the latter part of Bury's Presidency, talks were begun on a merger between the IAC and the Aerobatic Club of America (ACA), and there was dissent in the aerobatic community concerning jurisdiction and lines of authority in contest sanctioning and rules. The National Aeronautic Association (NAA) was asked to intervene.
In the midst of this turmoil in late 1981, Mike Heuer assumed the Presidency of the IAC. He was instrumental in convincing the NAA to grant the IAC full sanctioning power for all aerobatic contests held in the United States. NAA terminated its letter of agreement with ACA and the IAC became its aerobatic division. This gave the IAC the charge of administering all aerobatic activities in the U.S. under the banner of the Federation Aeronautique Internationale in Lausanne, Switzerland. At the same time, the IAC continued to welcome new members from all nations throughout the world who had an interest in aerobatics.
With this newfound responsibility, the IAC inherited the task of raising funds for the U.S. Aerobatic Team scheduled to compete in the biennial World Aerobatic Championships in Austria in August 1982. The rapid formation of the U.S. Aerobatic Foundation as an administrative vehicle became the key to raising $135,000 in nine short months to send 21 people and 9 airplanes to the competition. The U.S. Aerobatic Foundation was immensely successful and fielded U.S. Teams at every World Championship, including those held in Hungary, Great Britain, Canada, Switzerland, France, the USA, and Slovakia. The U.S. Aerobatic Foundation ceased operations in 2005 and in 2006 and Unlimited Aerobatics USA Inc. was formed to support the Unlimited Team.
One of the key's to the IAC's success has also been the continuity in its leadership. Since its beginning, the IAC has had only twelve Presidents. After Mike Heuer's term ended in 1990, Steve Morris of Denver, Colorado assumed the helm and among accomplishments were the "IAC 2000" work sessions held in Denver in March 1992 that helped chart the organization's future. Morris also gave great emphasis to making IAC's major competition in Fond du Lac an education event for all IAC members with "convention" style activities for all. When Steve Morris left the Presidency in 1993, Linda Hamer of Peru, Illinois took over and continued to lead the organization based on the principles it was founded on in 1970. She was succeeded by Dr. Richard Rihn, a veteran aerobatic pilot, administrator and diplomat. In 1998, Dr. Rihn turned the reins over to Doug McConnell who was one of the first IAC members in 1970 and who brought marketing and strategic planning skills to the IAC as it moved into the new millennium.
In 2001, Doug McConnell left the office to Rob Dorsey who was succeeded by Gerry Molidor in 2002. Gerry was instrumental in hosting the 22nd World Aerobatic Championships in Lakeland, Florida. Gerry was succeeded in 2005 by Vicki Cruse. Vicki gave just about every waking hour to IAC and competition aerobatics. She earned the National Champion title in 2007. After Vicki's untimely death in 2009, then Vice President Doug Bartlett stepped in to lead the club to 2012. Doug Sowder served as president from 2012-2014. IAC historian and president emeritus Mike Heuer returned as president from 2014 to 2018. IAC Hall of Fame Recipient Robert Armstrong became president in 2018 and was followed by our current president U.S. Unlimited Team member Jim Bourke.
In light of the IAC's aerobatic endeavors around the world, it is easy to think that its main concern lies in major competitions. Though they are an important part of the IAC competition activity, the true story of the IAC's grass roots efforts lies in the 40 approximate regional competitions it sanctions each year. These competitions are sponsored by IAC Chapters throughout the U.S.