Dear Pilots, Volunteers and IAC Supporters:
It would be silly to predict the future, now more than ever. However, I can offer a fact-based summary of where we currently are in regard to the 2020 US National Aerobatic Championships in Salina, KS scheduled for September 20-25. IAC Secretary Lynn Bowes and I met in person and Executive Director Steve Kurtzahn attended by phone with the Salina Airport Authority (SAA) personnel, a Salina Chamber of Commerce representative and tower operations on June 17, 2020.
First and foremost, we will comply with the appropriate Public Health Orders based on Kansas state’s monitoring of testing rates, COVID-19 hospitalizations, ability to contact trace and availability of personal protective equipment (PPE). The current forecast in the Saline County Plans for Reopening is an allowance for public gatherings by September with no size restrictions. SAA indicated that there are two large events scheduled in July and August at the airport. Organizers for those events are monitoring the on-going situation leading up to their events. If these events do take place, the IAC will consult with the SAA on “lessons learned” from those events. Our own “IAC contest guidance” in September will be a step up from what is required by the county’s plan. Who would have thought registrations fees would include a mask, but they will!
The Nationals organizers continue with planning and will be ready when and if conditions allow. We have shifted the aerobatic box east ~200 yards to improve judge’s viewing, radio communications, and create a better center box marker on green grass versus the runway. We have secured hangar 606 again this year and hangar 703 is available for gliders and overflow/transients. The aerobatic box waivers are in process at the Wichita FSDO. Planning continues on track with regards to programs, t-shirts, trophies, other collateral, hotels and food.
A decision on holding Nationals will be no later than August 10. This time frame gives us a month to get everything on site and have a better idea of the level of participation. I have emailed all of the 2019 Nationals pilots to gauge their intentions and help answer questions and concerns.
To help people make a more informed decision, clear guidance will be published on how we intend to run Nationals. The concept is to make sure all issues are considered and develop an executable plan within rational operating constraints. We want people to be comfortable and know the “lay of the land” before they decide to attend. For example, items that we are considering and are in the planning stages:
· Use of masks
· Briefings to be held in the hangar or just outside the hangar (weather dependent). We plan to have an LCD wall and good audio for the hangar to help make this go smoothly.
· We will post orders of flights and results electronically on the large LCD and use the website to avoid congregating around 8 ½” x 11” pieces of paper taped to walls.
· Clear north and south starting lines will be established on the ramps.
· We will be respectful of the judge’s line arrangement, in regards to social distancing and/or PPE, with the assistants, recorders, and runners.
· Transportation to and from the judge’s line to take place in smaller groups versus a crowded van.
· There is a lot of space in Hangar 606 and plenty of tables so we can spread out for food events in the hangar more easily than we could crowd into a restaurant or other offsite venue.
· “Private workspaces” for the volunteers will be created upstairs to help them with social distancing.
· Hand sanitizer and disposable gloves will be readily available.
I am confident, as reopening guidelines continue to unfold, that the right decision will be straightforward and one that a majority of the IAC family can support. Safety for our IAC members is always our number one priority.
We might not have as large a turn out as planned, and this may cause us to adjust the schedule, shaving a day off and sending you home on Friday versus Saturday. Below is the tentative schedule:
Version 1.0 of the bulletin will come out July 4, 2020. I personally am looking forward to seeing all of you in Salina in September at a safe and fun 2020 US Nationals!