Forty of Europe’s best aerobatic pilots gathered in the small town of Moravska Trebova in eastern Czech Republic today, for the start of the 20th FAI European Aerobatic Championships.
“There are pilots from 13 nations here,” explained competition director Vladimir Muchula. “Thirteen nations, five complete teams of three pilots each, five women and one guest pilot from Hong Kong.”
The pilots are here for one week, at the end of which a new European Champion will be crowned. Medals will also be awarded for Teams, in the Women’s class and in Freestyle.
Among the favourites to win is current Aerobatics World Champion Alexandre Orlowski from France. He said he was looking forward to the competition and had been practising at an airfield nearby for the last week with the French team.
He said he was feeling happy about his preparation. However, he added, “I prefer to be prepared weeks before actually, and try just to keep confident with the sensation and the feeling in the aircraft.”
He added: “Yes I am feeling confident, you have to, but there are a lot of good pilots here. The thing is to do my job as best as possible and we will see the result.”
He said he had “30 to 40 hours” in the air this year training for competition and flying air shows.
“You can’t come to a competition too confident,” he explained, “you just have to focus on each flight and try to have some fun also.”
Orlowski’s team mate Olivier Masurel was also looking forward to the championship, although he said he hadn’t had as much training as he would have liked so far this year.
The winner of the gold medal at the FAI World Air Games in Dubai last December, Masurel explained: “I’ve had 15-20 hours preparation, so not a lot of training this year … you have to balance between your job and your training, so it’s difficult.”
He added: “Anyone can win. You need to be not-unlucky and consistent. I think consistency is key.”
The sport of Aerobatic flying is high adrenalin and demands strict focus and extreme skill. Each pilot much complete a pre-set aerobatic routine inside a 1km-cube aerial ‘box’ in front of a panel of judges. Points are awarded and deducted for how each manoeuvre is executed, as well as if the pilot goes outside the box.
The competition lasts one week. Poor weather meant pilots could not start competing today, Saturday 20 August 2016, as planned, but organisers have their fingers crossed that the competition will start in earnest on Sunday.
The official opening ceremony will take place in Moravska Trebova this evening.