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I arrived in Finland on Tuesday evening, the 13th of July, and was met in Helsinki by Matti Mecklin, who drove me to Jami, which is the focal point of Finnish glider flying and has served as the capitol of this wonderful segment of aviation since 1935. The Finnish have been working for months to organize the 1st World Advanced Glider Aerobatic Championships which is being held in conjunction with the 10th European Glider Aerobatic Championships in Unlimited category. By combining the categories, contests like this become economically feasible as there are two few pilots to sustain these events on their own in many locations.
11 countries are represented here with 29 flying in Advanced and 30 in Unlimited. Three of these pilots are independents or what CIVA calls “H/C” or “hors concours” pilots. They fly for scores and are treated the same as other competitors but are not included in the final standings or eligible for medals and awards. Since I arrived, the Jury has been working with Kari Kemppi, Contest Director, and the other organizational staff here to get the contest started. I have enjoyed working with all of them. Finally, on Saturday, 17 July, we began flying – one day ahead of the originally published schedule as they wished to take advantage of the good weather. Advanced and Unlimited Knowns were finished and results are available at www.civa-results.com. There are quite an interesting array of aircraft here – most in Advanced are flying the MDM-1 Fox with most pilots sharing aircraft with others. Also present in Advanced are the Pilatus B4, Swift S-1, Lunak, and Solo Fox. There are also a wide array of ages here as well with the youngest pilot being 19 years of age (Johan Gustafsson of Sweden) and oldest at 74 years (Sandor Katona flying as an independent). It is very good to see a new generation of pilots coming along. The Advanced category will be a source of new pilots in FAI Championship competition in the years ahead, just as it has been in power aerobatics. After opening ceremonies today, a weather bird was launched and the winds are currently out of limits (by almost twice the limit) so flying is currently on hold. More news soon.