Soaring high

By Daniel Hughes

The WWII Tocumwal Aerodrome has played host to some of Australia's top aerobatic pilots.

The 2019 Australian Aerobatic Championships started last Tuesday and finished Sunday, and saw pilots compete in freestyle and allocated rounds each day to accumulate points.

The competition included a predetermined sequence of manoeuvres given to the pilots from the judges to be carried out in a small cube of airspace known as the ‘aerobatic box’.

Pilots can fly at different levels of competition from entry level to unlimited depending on their level of skill and the performance capabilities of their aircraft.

Coming from all around Australia, the AAC members stayed locally in Tocumwal and while they worked long days, they were still able to enjoy the region.

“The competition ran from 6am till 6pm, but my day tended to go a little longer entering in scores until 2am each day,” Australian Aerobatic Club president Matthew Marais said.

“We've stayed in Tocumwal and enjoyed the hospitality and help the Berrigan Shire Council have shown us, as well as the members of the aerodrome and all of its members for being so diligent with our schedule.”

Intermediate competitor Michael Chlepko, 37, took to the skies above Tocumwal in his plane called ‘The Joker'.

“I fell in love with this sport when I was just six years-old,” Chlepko said.

“My dad took me to the 1988 Bicentennial aerobatic championships and since then I was hooked.

“Back then I used to save every everything to buy my first plane, I was putting away 10 cent and 20 cent pieces as a six year old.

“Finally 30 years later I was able to buy my first plane which I got really lucky with.

“The Joker is a Lazer plane which is one of the models that revolutionised aerobatic flying.

“It's a custom built plane which, as opposed to factory built planes, allows me to make my own modifications with a mechanic depending on how it performs each competition.

“We all do this for the love of the sport, instead of going out to the pub and spending $50 on drinks, we will save it and put it towards a tank of fuel just so we can get up in the air more often.”

Aarron Deliu finished on a high note, becoming the 2019 Australian Unlimited Aerobatic Champion and 2019 Australian Freestyle Aerobatic Champion.

“Aarron is a well deserving winner and a great role model for up and coming aerobatic pilots,” Marais said.

For more information and the competition results visit