When Dale Byrkit sits in the cockpit of his small private plane, especially during competition, there is both an adrenaline rush and a peace that comes with it.
“It’s just you and the airplane,” Byrkit said. “There’s a special feeling to it.”
That will be felt by 35 pilots this weekend at the Seward Municipal Airport, where the Midwest Aerobatic Championships are being staged by Nebraska’s chapter of the International Aerobatic Club.
While Byrkit, who lives in Clay Center, is not flying in this year’s competition, he plays a role in making sure everything is in order for the pilots.
“We have people come in from all over the country to compete and learn,” he said. “That’s what this is all about, camaraderie and learning from neighbors.”
Byrkit said pilots from Texas, Colorado, Oklahoma, North Dakota and Alabama took to the skies above Seward on Friday afternoon during a practice session. A few more states will be represented by the time the competition kicks off Saturday at 8 a.m.
Byrkit said there are lawyers, doctors and even commercial pilots who come to Seward for the competition.
Pilots from the University of North Dakota and Metropolitan State University in Denver made the trip for the championships as well.
“The community here is widespread, but it’s so healthy and fun to be around the learning environment,” Byrkit said.
The competition is split into five divisions: primary, sportsman, intermediate, advanced and unlimited.
The tougher divisions use planes with more horsepower and create more G-force, which makes keeping control of the plane to do flips, turns and rolls more difficult.
Pilots will get three opportunities to perform their sequence and judges rank them based on precision. For example, the horizontal straightness of a roll is something the judges look for in competition.
The final sequences will finish up at about noon Sunday, with the winners in each category being announced after that, Byrkit said.
“The scoring is just subjective; this is about getting better and being up in the air,” he said.