The trouble with being on holiday is that there is too much spare time which occasionally leads to cogitation. Today it is the aerobatic contest categories.
For a long while, contest entry level was Sportsman then Intermediate, Advanced and Unlimited. This mirrored the IAC as, in Australia, we initially followed the IAC rules. I can remember typing up (i.e. on a small manual typewriter so it was many years ago) the first set of rules for the AAC tailored for us. Only Unlimited was in the realm of CIVA back then. We used to use the IAC Known sequences for many years.
CIVA has progressively expanded its scope to now include Intermediate / Yak 52 and Advanced – all with a distinctively European flavour as each country gets one vote. As CIVA swings in favour of the aeroplane types prevalent there the IAC sensibly continues to do it the way that suits their many members in the USA and the airplane types used there.
For a while CIVA tried to limit the performance of aircraft types in their lower categories but has long discarded that philosophy. Meanwhile the IAC sensibly maintains its policies of access to various categories with appropriate airplane types readily available.
As the capability of newer aircraft improved we saw the resulting category creep particularly in Advanced and Unlimited.
Sportsman was considered too hard to start with so Graduate was born. That was too hard for a few so we have Entry category. How many people have seen a pilot compete in Entry? Personally, I have only ever seen one such flight in a T-28.
Every now and then I hear talk of another special category for RV pilots.
We now have CIVA Intermediate and AAC Intermediate. Talk of an Intermediate category without snap rolls for Decathlons.
We have many Yak 52s in Australia and we occasionally see one at a contest. I have seen one fly Intermediate prior to that category flying the Yak 52 sequence. I have seen one accomplished Yak 52 pilot attempt to practice the Yak 52 / Intermediate Known but was unable to do it competitively so withdrew to Sportsman. Hardly seems sensible to have a Yak 52 sequence with no Yak 52 competitors.
How many competitors at a typical aerobatic contest? My estimation is that everyone will come home with a trophy.