Throughout the week, pilots from across the nation flew into Denison’s North Texas Regional Airport — Perrin Field to compete in the 2014 U.S. National Aerobatic Championships. Competition concluded on Friday with the events highlight attraction as seven of the top pilots competed in the four-minute freestyle contest.

Throughout the week, pilots from across the nation flew into Denison’s North Texas Regional Airport — Perrin Field to compete in the 2014 U.S. National Aerobatic Championships. Competition concluded on Friday with the events highlight attraction as seven of the top pilots competed in the four-minute freestyle contest.


In Friday’s contest, six pilots from the unlimited division, which makes up the most experienced pilots, and one pilot from the advanced division performed four-minute flights where, instead of performing set maneuvers, the pilots are given more freedom in their flight.


"The four-minute free is as the name implies a free flight," said Frisco-based pilot Mike Galloway, who competed in the four-minute freestyle event for the second time on Friday. "It is more like an air show."


In the freestyle event, the focus is more of the show and less on the precision that is exemplified in the events earlier in the week. Pilots performed stalls, quick and steep dives with smoke trails following behind, and gyroscopic spins several hundred feet in the air as spectators watch on from below.


As pilot Mark Nowosielski performed to Motley Crue’s "Kickstart My Heart," Durant resident Amy Laymon; her mother, Stella McCarley; and Laymon’s children sat and watched from the edge of the runway.


"They just love airplanes," said Laymon. "Their daddy is in the air force."


McCarley has memories of helping her father modify planes when she was young. "He loved every minute of it," she said.


As Laymon watched Nowosielski began to dive in a tight spin, she said she couldn’t help but feel scared and excited at the same time.


"I want to look away, but I don’t at the same time," she said.


"These events are much more appealing to the crowds," said Galloway, who also narrates the Red Bull Air Races. For his own performance, Galloway said he felt happy with how he did, but felt there is stiff competition.


"It is hard to beat the current champion Rob Holland," said Galloway. "He is the world champion at this event, so it is sort of a battle for second place."


Prior to the results being posted for Friday’s event, Holland said he was happy with his performance, but felt there were many strong contenders this year.


"It is up to the judges to decide, but I had a lot of fun," he said. Earlier in the week, Holland took first in his division, making him the 2014 U.S. National Unlimited Champion.


"This is the fourth time winning it and it is always surreal," he said. "It is a lot of work, and I am glad it paid off."


Holland went on to win the freestyle competition. Holland, who has flown aerobatics for 22 years, and professionally for 12 years, said he has wanted to do this since he was a child.


"When I was a kid, my dad brought me to an airshow and I just fell in love with what was in front of me. I thought it was amazing seeing planes flying upside down," said Holland. "I was one a mission, and I had to do that someday."


Holland said he decided at that point he was going to be a stunt pilot. "I never had a Plan B, because everyone always falls back on Plan B. If you only have a Plan A, you have nothing to fall back to."


Holland joked that with his job, he has the best office in the world, and the view is amazing.


"It is an amazing experience. Who doesn’t look up at a bird, see them fly away and not want to do that," he said. "I am lucky enough and fortunate enough to get to do that."


Holland, and eight other pilots from the U.S. competition have earned spots on the national team, and will go on to represent the United States in the 2015 World Aerobatic Championship in Chateroux, France. The team will be comprised of Tim Just, Rob Holland, Benjamin Freelove, Jeff Boerboon, Goody Thomas, Nikolay Timofeev, Brett Hunter, Mark Nowosielski and Melissa Pemberton.