Ace pilots dance to music

Al AIN - The second day of the World Grand Prix of the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI), at Al Ain International Airport, generated tremendous excitement as a number of formation teams and solo daredevils displayed their skills in flying their aircraft synchronised to music.

By Sadiq A. Salam

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Published: Fri 6 Feb 2004, 12:02 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 1:36 PM

Shaikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, was among those who witnessed the enthralling show.

"They are the best aerobatic pilots in the whole world as they qualify for this edition after finishing in the top 20 throughout the previous World Championships," John Louis Gaillard, Chief Judge, from South Africa, told Khaleej Times.

Pilots in this competition are judged according to their "technical merits, which is divided into three parts", he said.

"The first one is flight envelope, i.e. how he flies the aircraft in high and low speed, rotating and gyroscopic. The second part is versatility, which is a wide range of figures presented by the pilot and how he flies away, across and 45 degrees from the crowd and the judges," he said.

"The third part is the artistic impression. In other words, how the competitor flies his aircraft in a way that fits the music and his creativity in using the smoke," Gaillard said.

The competition rules also included positioning of the aircraft.

"Here we want a balanced positioning so that the judges as well as the crowd enjoy the show," he said. Gillard is the first vice president of the Switzerland-based International Aerobatics Commission.

"Each pilot should take 3.30 to 4 minutes and should not fly below 30-metre height. According to Gillard, "if the pilot fails to comply with these rules, points will be deducted. Flying below 20 metres or too close to the ground leads to disqualification," the judge added.

He said that this is the first time jet teams are competing in the show.

"Unfortunately the second jet competitor (the Russian team) couldn't make it. We will judge them on our criteria and it is left for the organisers to decide."

To maintain transparency and fairness, the five-member panel is composed of well-experienced judges from different nationalities including South Africa, Sweden, France, Austria and Lithuania.

On the second day of the competition, Lithuanian Jurgis Kairys was placed first in the solo freestyle category, while the Matador team from the UK bagged the first place in the formation team's category.

The final stage of the event, organised by Al Ain Economic Development and Tourism Promotion Authority (AAEDTPA), is scheduled to be held at 1pm today.

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