Ask anybody and they will probably tell you that they are a good judge.  Everybody generally watches the planes closely, makes an informed decision and then pushes the buttons having made a conscious decision; but does this make us a good judge.

I had a conversation with a fellow flyer recently and we were talking about a particularly good flight that we had witnessed.  The erstwhile fellow judge described one of the manoeuvres as being ‘..perfect, I couldn’t find anything wrong with it.  I gave it a 9’!!!!  This of course begs the question, if it was ‘perfect’ then why wouldn’t it have been scored a 10.

Back in the old days, when I had hair and we used to be given our scoring sheets at the end of a competition, I used to have a small program where I would input all of the scores, k factor etc, and this program would give me a very clear readout of what my worst manoeuvres were, so that these could be practised and hopefully improved.  This process was quite beneficial and you could see the ebbs and flows of manoeuvres as I endeavoured to improve one sometimes to the detriment of others.  

A side ‘benefit’ of this little program was it meant that I looked pretty closely at what the judges were doing and it quickly showed that some judges were very average indeed.  Average in the sense that they tended to award scores right around a particular number and rarely move in either direction.  They were a ‘6’ or a ‘7’ judge, but rarely went below that score and even more rarely went above it.  In fact a couple of them didn’t find a single manoeuvre across a 12 month period that was above a 7.  Now, we would all like to think that we are consistent but ……

In the same events, some other judges had scores from ranging from 2 to 9s.  Roll forward 23 years and not only do we have half scores and electronic scoring means, but also some judges that are still ‘average’ judges who get locked into a ‘6’ or a ‘7’ and rarely move from that position.  Is the flying so consistent or are our judges in need of a clearer understanding of what is a good and what is a bad manoeuvre??  

In writing the above i’m conscious of the fact that I always reckon the best pilot has won events that I have attended, but I would like to think that a good judge will be a person who rewards the good and equally punishes the poor.  

Are you a good judge??


Thank you to the hard working committee of the APA who during a very arduous year have displayed commonsense and strong leadership in looking after the interests of the members and ensuring that the APA is as as strong as possible when this Virus is defeated.

Phil Spence.

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