John Gaillard, who passed away on Sunday 7 August, has been involved with aerobatics since the 1970s, and has chaired the South African Sport Aerobatic club for several years.
John was once a competitor himself, and had captained the South Africa team at several world championships. He also became very proficient at judging local contests and was soon invited to judge at international events. He always understood how contestants felt before a competition and was always seen before a contest sharing a joke over coffee, making contestants and novice judges alike feel at ease.
He worked tirelessly to recruit and train a new generation of judges. John was always the consummate professional. His pre-contest briefings were always thorough, never once did he slacken, always maintaining a high standard. Safety was a responsibly that he took very seriously. On the judging line he saved many a pilot from a hazard, by calling them to break-off when necessary.
John pioneered the very first international contest at the Advanced level which was hosted in Cape Town in 1995. The Advanced class have been competing internationally ever since.
In 2013 John again pioneered the first international contest at the Intermediate level which was again organised by John and successfully hosted in Mossel Bay. To top this all John was the initiator and Contest Director at the successful 2017 Unlimited Aerobatics Contest held last year in Malelane, a first for South Africa.
He was so well regarded across the world that he was often invited to be the Chief Judge at several National Championships of other countries. Besides South Africa, John judged aerobatics across North America, South America, throughout West, Central and Eastern Europe, China and Australia.
In 2018 John was awarded the highly coveted Lifetime Achievement award by the Aero Club of South Africa.
John was appointed as the World Chief Judge for many World Championships. He was again to judge at the 2022 World Aerobatic Championships in Poland, but his declining health meant he had to turn down this coveted role only a few weeks ago.
In addition to judging, John was also the South African representative on CIVA, the FAI body responsible for overseeing aerobatics internationally. At the time of passing, he was world Vice Chairman.
We offer our sincere condolences to his family and to his spouse Jenny.
Aerobatic Box is now yours Chief Judge, have a good flight and don’t forget to wag your wings …Over!