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Ten Years Ago: Mardna's 111km model seaplane world record

DSC01216Ten years ago Toomas Mardna set a world record for aeromodelling that still stands today: a 111km out-and-return flight with a piston-motor seaplane, flying along the banks of Lake Maardu in Estonia.

If you want to bag a distance world record in aeromodelling it can help if you get up early, when the wind is calm and the sky is clear.

For Toomas Mardna exactly ten years ago on Friday 17 June 2006, 'early' meant a pre-dawn start. Together with co-pilot Juri Laidna the pair were aiming to set a world record out-and-return flight with a model Mardna had designed and built himself.

Mardna was well-known in Estonia and the international aeromodelling scene. A member of the Estonian Aerosports Federation his FAI Sporting Licence number was EST0002 – he was in at the very beginning.

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Olympic ski jumper swaps skis for helicopter skids

23312040250 f757eaaf08_kHelicopter pilot Thomas Morgenstern has finished in bronze medal position in the FAI World Air Games Parallel Slalom and Fender competition here in Dubai. The final to decide the gold and silver medallists will take place tomorrow (December 10).

But when former Olympic gold medal winner Morgenstern, flying here with his teammate Stefan Seer, crashed during a ski jump at the start of 2014, it looked like his career as a professional athlete was over.

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Seven steps to success: an acrobatic paragliding masterclass with FAI World Air Games winner Tim Alongi

23474709841 6306630ae2_kFrench paraglider Tim Alongi, 24, is the new FAI World Air Games Paragliding Aerobatics Champion.

Alongi also won the silver medal in the Sychronised Paragliding Aerobatics competition, along with his partner - and solo silver medallist - Eliot Nochez, also from France. 

When we caught up with Alongi afterwards at the Palm Dropzone in Dubai, he gave us his seven top tips for acro paragliding success.

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British air sports legend helicopters in

IMG 72551Even among the large crowds at the FAI World Air Games, it's hard to miss Quentin Smith. The flamboyant British helicopter pilot wears a Union Jack jacket, and has been flying, he says, since the age of five.

Since then his flying achievements include helicoptering around the world. The 51 year old has recently completed an expedition to all three North Poles; magnetic north, true north, and the pole inaccessibility, which is the furthest point from land.

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Gege is here to win

You'd be forgiven for thinking 15-year-old Janejira Chuynoey is here to support a family member in the paramotoring competition.

image1At just 53kg, the petite Thai girl looks like she can barely lift the 30kg Polini Thor paramotor next to her. But when its time to gear up for the start, the smiley school girl's eyes narrow into competitive focus as she pulls on her helmet.

Chuynoey, or Gege to her friends, may be the youngest competitor at the FAI World Air Games in Dubai, but don't be fooled by her playful smile, sparkly mobile phone or cutely coiffed ponytail. She's here to win.

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Nicole Schmidt sorts the men from the boys

imgo copyNicole Schmidt from Germany, has been flying paragliders for 11 years. For the last six she's been performing aerobatic tricks, or "acro". It's a discipline very few women attempt, and this year Schmidt, 35, won the female World Championship.

We found out what it takes to be the only female acro pilot jumping out of the helicopter here at the FAI World Air Games.

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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."

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Record-breaking balloon pilot discovers aeromodelling...

Troy-Bradley-USRecord-breaking, trans-Pacific hot air balloon pilot Troy Bradley was in the crowd cheering on the competitors in the Aeromodelling final at the Dubai Mall last night, December 1. "This is all new to me," he said. "I'm enjoying it very much."

Together with his Two Eagles Balloon Team partner Leonid Tiukhtyaev, Bradley shattered the long-standing distance and duration world records by flying from Saga in Japan to Mexico in January this year.

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Former Paramotoring World Champion Alex Mateos: five top tips

Alex-Mateos-WebParamotoring pilot Alex Mateos, 23, was crowned World Champion in 2014 after flying an unbeatable time around inflatable pylons on his paramotor.

Since then he's focused on other paramotoring disciplines, such as navigation. He narrowly missed out at the 2015 championships, but he's back with his eye on the top spot here in Dubai. Here are his top tips for paramotor slalom racing.

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Five minutes with Breitling pilot Aude Lemordant

Aude-2If 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."

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US Paragliding Aerobatics pilot to unveil new tricks at FAI World Air Games

Max-Marien-JPGIt's rare to find competitors from the US in Paragliding Aerobatics competitions. The sport of paragliding has a relatively small following there, and there are few pilots who embark on the niche daredevil discipline of performing aerobatic manoeuvres in the sky.

One American who does compete is relative newcomer Max Marien, 27. He has come all the way from San Diego in California to Dubai to compete with what he says is a trio of new stunts he's developed. "They've never been seen in a competition before," he said ahead of the contest in the United Arab Emirates.

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