In how many languages can you say "chicken salad"? That was the question organizers at the World Aerobatics Championship were asking themselves as they worked as quickly as possible to dole out lunches to judges from 10 different countries on the tarmac at North Texas Regional Airport - Perrin Field on Wednesday. The hurried, 15-minute lunch break was necessary to catch-up after rain and wind put the competition on hold for 48 hours earlier this week.

In how many languages can you say "chicken salad"? That was the question organizers at the World Aerobatics Championship were asking themselves as they worked as quickly as possible to dole out lunches to judges from 10 different countries on the tarmac at North Texas Regional Airport - Perrin Field on Wednesday. The hurried, 15-minute lunch break was necessary to catch-up after rain and wind put the competition on hold for 48 hours earlier this week.


"The judges are eating lunch on the line, and we’re just going to keep on going as fast as we can go," said Mike Callaway, the United States’ representative on the judging panel. "This is a bonus time, we didn’t expect this good weather. We’re gonna go all the way till dark, and we’re going to just press as fast we can."


The first plane took off at 10:37 a.m. Wednesday morning — about four hours earlier than expected — as event staff worked feverishly to get through as many pilots as possible in order to complete the first round of competition. Dry weather Wednesday meant officials now expect to include three full rounds of flight — not the four originally scheduled, but more than the two rounds planners were looking at yesterday afternoon in the midst of a two-day rainstorm.


"So far, it’s gone really well; weather-wise, now we’re fine," Callaway said. "If we keep going at the pace we’re going, maybe pick up the pace a little bit, we should get (in) three full flight programs, which would be fantastic. That would be a no-kidding legitimate contest."


Around 12:45 p.m. Wednesday, the sun made its first appearance of the day, rounding the edges of a sharp north wind that was within newly-relaxed limits.


Event Safety Director Chelsea Engberg explained that pilots voted earlier in the morning to modify the rules on wind speed, upping the maximum from 12 meters-per-second to 14 (about 23 and 27 knots, respectively).


"Everyone has agreed to fly in a little bit more wind if need be, but it’s well within limits right now," she said on Wednesday afternoon. "Everyone’s just happy to be flying again."


One of those happy pilots, Great Britain competitor Simon Johnson, said he had trouble shaking-off the proverbial rust accumulated between his last practice flight and has first championship flight.


"It’s tough going-in cold after a layoff of six day; loss of tolerance, that kind of stuff," he explained shortly after quieting the propellers of his Extra 330SC aircraft and exiting the cockpit following his flight program. "But the conditions are really good right now, at least we’ve got no problems with the weather."


The world championship competition is slated to continue Thursday and conclude on Friday. On Saturday at noon, a select group of pilots will compete in a separate event, vying for prestige in a fan-friendly affair called the Four-Minute Freestyle.


When asked what was in store for the weather forecast, Callaway looked for some wood on which he could knock.


"Don’t even comment on the weather," he scolded his interlocutor, "you might screw it up."