Global economic crisis hits aerobatics championships

The 2nd FAI World HG/PG Aerobatics Championships, scheduled for August 2010 in Omegna, Italy, have been cancelled due to financial difficulties. The organisers informed the CIVL Bureau of its decision earlier this month. The Italian National Aero Club has confirmed the decision. The cancellation deals a heavy blow to the future of FAI hang gliding and paragliding aerobatics competitions, one of the most media and spectator-friendly disciplines within the free flying world. Discussions are already underway within the CIVL Aerobatics Subcommittee and the CIVL Bureau to try to determine a way forward. Although the test event held in August this year, with 44 paraglider aerobatics pilots from 11 countries, who completed three solo and three synchro rounds, was deemed to be successful, the Italian Acroaria organisation claims it took a financial hit on the event. Additional expenditure is expected for the 2010 World Championships. The Acroaria team has been running aerobatics competitions at Omegna for nine years, but now sponsorship funding has dried up completely, and grants from local authorities, although promised initially, were not forthcoming, the organisers claim, forcing this unfortunate decision. The cancellation comes two years after the last planned World Aerobatics Championships, scheduled for 2008 in Voss, Norway, were also cancelled due to lack of funding. The Aerobatics Subcommittee, co-chaired by Dennis Pagen and Iris Vogt, is deeply concerned about the future of aerobatics competitions. Under discussion are a number of possible ideas, which could be developed to help increase income and reduce costs. These include simplified scoring procedures to facilitate a higher number of participants, reducing judging fees and increasing pilot entry fees in line with other discipline Category 1 events. It is hoped that the upcoming CIVL Plenary meeting in Lausanne in February, will provide a good opportunity for Subcommittee members, judges, organisers and pilots to discuss these issues with delegates and the CIVL Bureau, with the aim of re-launching an aerobatics competitions initiative.