Canopy piloting: multiple medals for Team USA

 23457376492 b0fb367a80_k"The Star-spangled Banner" played five times at the FAI World Air Games medal ceremony earlier tonight (December 6), as Team USA pilots Curtis Bartholomew and Nick Batsch dominated the event.

Bartholomew was the victor in the accuracy and combined titles, and also collected the gold team medal for the USA. Batsch won the speed and freestyle events.


WAG 2015 - Day 6

Sunday, 6th December


LIVE Results on this link


Swooping win for USA

Screen Shot_2015-12-05_at_12.22.14One of the most spectacular events in the FAI World Air Games finished on Friday December 4. Classical canopy Piloting, or Swooping, is a fast-paced, beautiful discipline that combines nerves of steel with the finesse and grace of a gymnast. 

The day saw a 1,2 win for the USA when Curt Bartholemew battled it out with teammate Nick Batsch for the lead. Bartholomew seized the day and seized the win, while Nick Batsch took silver and the UAE’s Cornelia Mihai took bronze.


WAG 2015 - Day 5

Saturday, 5th December 2015

LIVE Results on this link


Good morning, and welcome to another day at The Pond, on the Palm DZ, in the sunshine!  It was almost a lie-in for most competitors and officials this morning, as wheels off was at 9.00 a.m.

We started with the first round of the Canopy Piloting Freestyle - the fun event, for both competitors and spectators - at least the water is warm!  In the first round each competitor performed a move from the list of named and known moves with interesting names like "Lazy Boy" and "Boomerang" and these moves require both physical body control and canopy control with marks awarded for both technical execution and performance style.  We completed the first round at the end of the allotted 45 minutes.  This afternoon our slot has been changed slightly to 14.30 (from 15.00) and finishing earlier to make way for the Air Show this afternoon from the UAE air force demonstration team. 

The judges for all the other disciplines had their first meeting this morning before leaving to visit either The Racecourse DZ or the Beach DZ to view where they are going to be working from tomorrow onwards.

Freestyle CP Rd. 1 by Mark Szulmayer.

At the end of Round 1 Freestyle we have Nick Batsch, USA in 1st place with his team-mate Gage Galle in 2nd and one of our Norwegian competitors, Barton Hardie in 3rd.  For the next round they can mix moves, do their own invention and are not restricted to the designated moves given in the Rules for the discipline.  Should be exciting.

The Overall Canopy Piloting competition which completed yesterday had a new dimension, introduced for the World Air Games, there is now a team event for countries with 3 competitiors.  This was also decided at the end of the competition yesterday so in the Team Event USA are the Gold Medal winners, France Silver and the UAE Bronze.  Congratulations to all the medal winners.

In the afternoon we managed the second round of Canopy Piloting Freestyle which was enjoyed by a large enthusiastic audience, as the crowd was able to come onto the grass area behind the pond side to support the athletes.  The competitors gave a great show - to combine two moves is much more challenging.  Nick Batsch maintained his lead closely by Gage Galle with Abdulbani Qubaisi in 3rd place.

At 15.15 there was the Technical Meeting for Team Leaders for the other parachuting disciplines which was a very complex meeting due to the use of the different Drop Zones being utilised this year and the complex schedule.  So tomorrow morning we have, in the early morning the last round of Freestyle Canopy Piloting, a little later the WIDi load will take off for the start of the Accuracy Landing competition with the practice jump whilst at the same time the training jumps will commence for the Formation Skydiving, Canopy Formations, Artistic Events and Speed Skydiving.

Once the training jumps are done, each Formation Skydiving discipline will receive the Dive Sheets for the competition, these will be drawn and handed out immediately the training jumps for that event have completed, so by the time 4-Way Open and 4-Way Female come to jump their first competition jumps the two hours will have elapsed with the combined time of the other disciplines (VFS and 8-Way practice and the bus ride from the Horse DZ to the Farm Airstrip (it will take about 30-40 minutes from the Horse DZ).

Because we have 4-Way team competitors who are also competing in VFS or 8-Way as well, it is intended to run a half day programme for each event i.e. 4-Way Open and 4-Way Female in the morning - VFS and 8-Way in the afternoon, so at least teams will not spend all day out at the Horse Race DZ (unless they are one of the teams in both events of course).  The same is happening in the Artistic Events with team members in both Freestyle and Freefly and so they will be split in the same way as well.  Again it is happening in Canopy Formations between 2-Way Sequential and 4-Way Rotation.  Canopy Formation will be run out of the helicopters, and so they will enplane at the Palm DZ and jump at the Horse DZ (as they have at DIPC's in previous years).

So the programme tomorrow is 7.30 wheels off for the final round of Freestyle Canopy Piloting, shortly after the accuracy competitors will go (by boat) to the Beach DZ to watch the first Widi load using helicopters and enplaning from the Palm DZ.  Meanwhile buses will take competitors and officials out to the Horse DZ for the start of their training jumps, and the use of the new Farm strip, with the logistics that involves.

In the shadow of

Tonight was the opening banquet for the World Air Games, held in the grounds of the hotel next door to the Hotel Burj Al Arab - a fantastic setting, where we were served with more amazing food, and two medal ceremonies took place for the Glider Aerobatics and Powered Aerobatics.

A view from the FAI Environmental Commission

22840829084 13feb2610f_kWriting about environment in a huge, desert city born out of oil and gas history can be a challenging task - if you only look backwards.

There is no doubt that the level of comfort and the fantastic infrastructures here come at a price. The high level of fossil energy needed to start the process and run the day-to-day operations cannot be viewed lightly.


WAG 2015 - Day 4

Friday, 4th December 2015

LIVE Results on this link

Early morning Speed

A final early morning here at the Palm DZ for the Canopy Piloting competitors.  7.30 wheels off and by 11.00 the competition was over! 

We started the morning with three rounds of Speed on the LH calving course and almost no wind conditions.  At the end of an exciting three rounds we had a result - with Nick Bastch, USA first - Curtis Bartholomew, USA 2nd and Cornelia Mahi, UAE 3rd.  Nick was excited on his landing as he had a minor control problem - so 'I just went for it' he said, and it obviously worked. Nick and Chris red

We then switched to the completion of the final round of Distance which was interrupted yesterday as we ran out of time on our slot.    The top competitors made their flights and the excitement was high because the result of  this round's distance would determine the overall position, they were so close.  Would it be Nick Batsch or his team-mate and friend, Curtis Bartholomew.  Nick made it to 128.11 m whereas Curtis, who follwed him into the course, made 133.27 placing him in 4th above Nick in 5th place for Distance and therefore in the Gold Medal position Overall. 

Meanwhile Cornelia had sailed past all of them with a final flight of 144.72 m - placing her First for Distance, and in 3rd place Overall.  Guillhume Bernier, France was in 2nd place and Pablo Hernandez Moll, Spain in 3rd.

Speed rd with camera following

All these results are 'unofficial' until signed off by the Chief Judge - and can be accessed by the button at the top of the page to Live Results.  The World Air Games is huge and there is a heavy media pressence and team working here, including live-streaming TV each day - go to the menu button at the top or follow this link WAG to see some of the amazing footage being put together - often thanks to the Camera Flyers from Skydive Dubai who are working to provide parachuting images for them.  (as caught above)

Hot air baloons over Dubai red WAGred
6.30 am the sky is filled with hot air baloons WAG 2015

At 12.00 we had a Canopy Piloting Competitors and Judges meeting to discuss the rules for Freestyle.   CP Event Judge, Bjorn asked those who did not want to compete in the Freestyle event, to let him know, so that the aircraft loading lists could be finalised.   He clarified that this event did not count in the Overall placings - that competition was now over, and this one would stand alone.  He then discussed and handed out, the Drama Sheets, for each competitor to detail their moves for each of the three rounds.  He further explained that they would be using 5 judges; 1 to judge the Technical aspect of the move and points would be awarded for the degree of difficulty and technical precision of completion.  Three judges would judge the presentation and creativity and the 3rd the landing.  Each judge could award a maximum of 20 points. 

Touching the water counted as the "entry gate" so by touching the water you ensured the default score of 3 points.  However, landing in the water ensured a 0 score from the landing judge.  The judges and spectators would be sat centrally on one of the long sides of the pond (position not finally decided). meaning it would be possible to exit the pond on either side - to be stated on the drama sheet.

There were a couple of questions relating to the weight rules which Bjorn read and clarified to the meeting.  However, he did say that there would be the opportunity to hold a further Competitors Meeting later to discuss the competition and rules generally.

He then took a roll call of competitors to establish who would not be jumping in the Freestyle Event.  Tomorrow we have two slots, 9.00 to 10.00 and 15.00 - 17.30, so it was planned to hold one round in the morning and the remaining 2 rounds in the afternoon.  That was it for the day, and tomorrow we start at 9.00 am.

Curtis Bartholomew USA Nick Batsch USA Cornelia Mihai UAE 2

Curtis Bartholomew, USA

Gold Overall

Gold Zone Accuracy

Nicholas Bastch, USA

Silver Overall

Gold Speed


Cornelia Maihi, UAE

Bronze Overall

Gold Distance

Christian Weber Jensen, DEN Guillaume Bernier FRA Pablo Hernasndez Moll ESP

Christian Webber Jenson, DEN

Silver, Accuracy Landings

Guillaume Bernier, FRA

Silver, Distance

Pablo Hernandez Moll, ESP

Bronze Distance


An unforgettable start to the FAI World Air Games

23133288149 527c88f702_zThe FAI World Air Games officially kicked off with a bang last night, as the 3,000-strong audience at the Opening Ceremony were wowed with an extravaganza of dancing, zip-line performances and fireworks.

Dropping in on the open-air stage, performers dressed as skydivers and paramotor pilots flew over the crowd suspended on wires, taking the astounded audience on a theatrical flight over glorious Dubai.


WAG 2015 - Day 3

Thursday 3rd December 2015

LIVE Results on this link

Cornelia 2nd Distance

Cornelia Mihai on her way to 147.14 m score on her second Distance round


WAG 2015 - Day 2

Happy Birthday Dubai

Today is the National Day

LIVE Results on this link

1st jump of the competitionTuesday 2nd December

6.00 p.m.  the end of a long day

. . . . but a very successful one.  In the second time slot of the day for parachuting, 14.00 - 15.00, we completed a round of Canopy Piloting (Distance) and despite a strong (but under the limits) cross wind we had some good distance scores with France leading the way.with Guillaume Bernier reaching 138.6 m, Cornelia Mihai, UAE 135.04 m and Pablo Hernandez Moll, Spain 133.85 m  Unlike this morning, the crowds had arrived and Regan Tetlow had an audience to listen to his informative and bright commentary.

There then followed an Air Show with Wingwalkers, Zoltan aerobatics and formation flying with Jetman - for more visit WAG Website

You will find stories and pictures from the day including the impressive 44 hot air balloons that lifted off from the DZ at sunset to mark the 44th anniversary of the birth of the United Arab Emirates.

Tomorrow is not quite such an early start for all involved in Canopy Piloting with our first scheduled time-slot 9.00 - 12.00.

9.30 am    It was an early start this morning for the Canopy Piloting competitors, the Judges and Course builders as the 7.30 first lift off was on time - along with all the organisational staff, mannifest, pilots, etc. without whom there would be no competition.. 

Forty competitors from 22 Nations - all invited as the top competitors in the world for the title of World Air Games Canopy Piloting Champion.

The set up at the pond was, as you would expect from Skydive Dubai, professional with good signage and an immaculate pond.  The first two aircraft loads were for the competitors to make their practice jumps, to re-familiarise themselves with the area and their set up point, before swooping to the pond and taking one of the three options presented to them - Distance, Speed or Accuracy.

By 8.30 the first round of the Zone Accuracy event started with just a low wind down the course. By the end of the first session, before the Air Display started we had completed the 2nd round.of Zone Accuracy.  Already we have the makings of a great competition, with Curtis Bartholomew, USA in 1st place with 196 points, Christian Weber Jensen, DEN 2nd with 191 points and Guillaume Bernier, FRA 3rd 180 points.  (Please remember that all these results are "unofficial" until signed off by the Chief Judge). 

The two Italian brothers competing against each other in this event were tied after the first two rounds of Accuracy.  I think these are the first brothers we have had in an individual event - we have seen them before in Formation Skydiving - particularly with the Canadian 4-Way Open and VFS team - competing here and the French 8-Way in the past - but they are have not been in competition with each other. 

Fattoruso brothers
Italy's Armando and Mario Fattoruso - competitive brothers

.A couple of pictures from Zone Accuracy plus two from the Distance event.

Australia in box past Zone 4
Distance Distance 2

Skydiver Cornelia Mihai: "I want to win!"

23385706941 265b75b903_zParachutist Cornelia Mihai punched the air after coming into land from her first jump in the skydiving swooping, or canopy piloting, competition in Dubai.

And well she might - the only female skydiver in the competition, she managed to travel a distance of well over 130m after pulling off a featherlight touch down in the swooping pool. "I'm happy with it," she said of her performance. "It's not bad for the first round."


WAG 2105 - Day 1

Tuesday 1st December 2015 - Day 1 of the WAG - Practice day for Parachuting

Desert DZ