Ferenc Toth has been at the top of his game since the turn of the century. The FAI Glider Aerobatics World Champion won his first major competition in 2000, aged 32. That was the FAI European Aerobatic Glider Championships, held in Provence, France, and it was a close battle between him and Jerzy Makula – the ‘grandfather’ of glider aerobatics – for the top spot.
“I have four sons, Jan is the youngest. But you know, when he was very little he was afraid of flying, he would not even touch the glider.” Jerzy Makula is a legend in glider aerobatics, often called the ‘grandfather of the sport’. A commercial pilot he has been at the forefront of developing glider aerobatics for four decades, pushing the boundaries and coaching individual pilots and national teams. He has been Glider Aerobatics World Champion seven times.
Now, his son Jan, 22, is following in his father’s footsteps and competing in the Unlimited class at the World Glider Aerobatic Championships. “I don’t remember when I first went flying with my dad, but I was young,” explains Jan.
If you're boarding an Air France Boeing 777 and there is a pretty, blond pilot called Aude Lemordant in the cockpit, you can relax in the knowledge that you're in safe hands.
The petite Frenchwoman is the reigning World Aerobatics Champion, and spends her spare time looping crazily around the sky and flying upside down for fun.
She is delighted to be here in Dubai to compete in the Aerobatics event, flying for official FAI sponsor Breitling.
"This is such a fantastic place to fly," she said. "Out in the desert all you can see is camels and sand dunes. And here at the Palm, you are flying amidst all these incredible buildings."
José Luis Aresti Aguirre (1917-2003) is a true legend in the world of aerobatics.
Born in Bilbao, Spain, Aresti became a flyer in the 1930s in time to get involved in the Civil War where he served as a pilot for the Republican Government; he was assigned the Polikarpov 1-16 Rata low-wing monoplane and within six months he found himself flying demonstrations for his military chiefs. After the war, Aresti became a test pilot for the Air Ministry Flight Test Centre in Madrid and founded several civilian pilot training schools in Spain while flying air shows around Europe.
An outstanding pilot who was able to fly any type of aircraft, Aresti had trained more than 2000 pilots 1971. He acted as President of the International Jury at various World Aerobatic Championships and was elected President of the Spanish Aeronautical Federation in 1966 and President of the FAI Aerobatics Commission (CIVA) in 1967. He was awarded many prestigious distinctions such as the Spanish Sports Merit Gold Medal, the FAI Gold Air Medal and the Leon Biancotto Aerobatics Diploma.
Aresti was also the creator and author of the “Aresti Aerocryptographic System”, still in use today in all aerobatic competitions, which allowed the agreement on the criteria at an international level among all pilots and judges of the aerobatic world. This work was the result of many years of aeronautical experience and hard work.
The Aresti Cup, donated by José Luis Aresti to the FAI in the 1960's, was created and given to the FAI with the purpose of being a symbol representing and consolidating the sportiveness and friendship of all pilots around the world. It is presented to the World Aerobatic Champion.
I am currently studying at the University College in Borlänge to become a machine engineer.
Years in Gliding
5, since 2006
Years in Gliding Aerobatics
3, since 2008
Hours of Gliding per year
What brought you to gliding ?
My dad has always been flying and I have been flying with him ever since I was as young as 1 year. I was flying aerobatics with him for the first time when I was 7 years old in his Zlin 526f.
How would you describe yourself as a glider?
I am not an extreme performer but prefer to be classed as more of a precision pilot.
What is you best gliding memory?
The World Advanced Glider Aerobatic Championships in Jämijärvi 2010.
Where is the best place you have ever glided?
I have not flown in that many places, but Jämijärvi was a nice place! Otherwise I think I like Dala-Järna best, because we have no controlled airspace above the airfield so that is good for soaring and aerobatics. If you want the do some cross country gliding the conditions are often very good.
What is it about gliding that you like the most?
Energy management, to do the manoeuvres that you didn’t know were possible without an engine and to make them visually pleasing for the judges.