The sky over Williams was busy last weekend, as the Williams Soaring Center hosted their first-ever aerobatic contest. 

Event organizer Ben Mayes said the Williams Soaring Center has hosted a few other events in the past but this is the first time they have put together a contest. 

“There is not a big competition scene for aerobatics,” said Mayes. “Most completions are geared more towards power planes.” 

According to Mayes, an aerobatic contest differs from an air show because the action is spread out to every 25-30 minutes and the flights are much shorter. 

“You have to have a lot more coordination with gliders,” said Mayes. “It’s all about energy management. It really is a different skill set.” 

Mayes, who said he was born and raised at the airport, said he has been flying for 10 years and doing aerobatics for the past six years. 

Mayes said competitors traveled from as far away as Florida, Oregon and Reno to compete in the event and some of the competitors have also competed at the world level. 

The three day event featured a practice day on Friday and competitions on Saturday and Sunday. 

Mayes said each competitor flew two sequences each day, a standard routine that they knew ahead of time and an unknown sequence to challenge their skills. 

According to Mayes, competitors fly the same sets of maneuver during their sequence, which includes a series of loops, rolls and springs, so International Aerobatic Club judges can rank each of them on their performance of the various movements. 

Malory Lynch came out victorious, with Mayes taking second place and Laura Radigan claiming the third spot. 

While not an International Aerobatic Club sanctioned event this year, Mayes said they hope to make this an authorized, annual event. 

The public was welcome to come out to watch the action and Mayes said there was a lot of community interest. 

The airport also had several vintage planes on display during the competition for spectators to view up close. 

The Williams Soaring Center offers year round glider rides for those that are interested experiencing gliders for themselves. 

Mayes said many people who ride a glider for the first time expect to feel like they are falling because there is no motor but that is not the case. 

“It's really smooth, peaceful and surreal,” said Mayes. “And you will have better viability then in any place. It really is a pure form of flying. It's like nothing else.” 

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