In the sports world, qualifying often attributes to an athlete or team's need to achieve one of the top positions in a qualifying round to advance to the next round, with the other athletes or teams eliminated.
While the Jet 1 Cup features a qualifying round, the concept is a bit different. In the Jet 1 Cup, all six teams and 12 fighter jets are eligible to compete each week. However, the teams that perform well during qualifying will have the upper hand on match day.
The Qualification Round
Qualification for the Jet 1 Cup takes place on Saturday, the day before each competition. All 12 Jet 1 Cup pilots participate in the qualifying round by alternating between the designated attacker and the defenders. Keep in mind, each Jet 1 Cup pilot will have the opportunity to be an attacker and defender during qualification.
After a random drawing selects the designated takeoff order, the qualification round begins with the last fighter jet to launch being the attacker, while the other planes are considered defenders. When the main landing gear separates from the ground, the 15-minute qualification round officially begins.
In each 15-minute qualifying round, the attacker and defender assignments will not change. As the attacker focuses on registering a clear shot, the objective of each defender is to perform defensive maneuvers to evade the attackers' guns. The amount of time it takes to accomplish a successful shot determines the qualification ranking heading into Sunday's main event.
The Significance of Qualification
Maintaining the fastest qualification time affords pilots a favored takeoff position heading into Sunday, contributing to a significant edge in the match. The Jet 1 Cup team that qualified last during the qualifying round will be the last to take off during Sunday's competition, signifying the loss of meaningful time during the 90-minute battle.
The 1st plane that takes the sky can achieve an attacking position before the 2nd plane even arrives, awarding immediate leverage over its opponents. Acquiring a preferential takeoff position while few planes are in the airspace is crucial to the success of Jet 1 Cup teams.