Calling the Outs and Ins

Man sitting in a metal triangle form facing away from camera

The boundary judge sits on a corner of the aerobatic box and uses a metal sighting device to determine if the pilot flies outside the boundary line. It sounds simple and in some ways is, but it also requires a dedicated observer who can read Aresti and can use a handheld radio to communicate with the Chief Judges’ table.

Although this position can seem less than fun as you may be stuck out in the boonies away from everyone else for a couple of hours, it is a very important part of the contest. The boundaries really set apart those pilots who practice and work hard to keep their flight in the box and not incur boundary penalties. Correct boundary calls often make the difference between first and second place.

Boundary judges have to be able to use the sighting device, read Aresti, and manage radio communications solo. It becomes more interesting when the pilots deviate from the sequence card, and it will be up to the boundary judge to make sense of what is going on and know what to call to the Chief Judge and when. Even though some people may be thrown to the boundary to be a judge without experience, it is not actually a beginner’s location.

Learn more about the specifics of Chapter 26’s sighting devices and some tips to set them up (which will usually already be done for you) in this video by Stephen De La Cruz.

How to Do the Job

During a specific contest flight, if you see the plane nearing the boundary, position yourself so when you look at the two edges of the sighting device the edges align. Watch for the aircraft to cross the edge of the device in its entirety. For example, if part of the wing or maybe the landing gear is still behind the sighting device edge, the plane is still IN the box. The entire plane must be visible beyond the lined-up edges of the device to be considered OUT. If this happens, you call the pilot out on the boundary direction, i.e. north, east, south or west, which will be called in as “out, south” over the radio. You will be responsible for two of these box directions. When the plane crosses back in, radio “in, south”. You will record the figures flown out on your boundary judge worksheet. At the end of the flight, you call in all the figures you marked out to verify them with the Chief Judges table.

The other important part of this job it to watch for other aircraft which don’t realize there is a contest taking place. If you see a non-contest plane approaching the box, call the Chief Judge immediately and describe where the aircraft is. If it is intruding on the box, the competitor will be asked to stop their sequence for safety.

by Stephen De La Cruz, IAC #433275, & Susan Bell, IAC #438132