After Texas in 2013, and just one week ago, it was at Châteauroux-Déols airport (central France) where the world aerobatic championships started, and in which 63 pilots from 18 different nations are competing. This year, France, the defending champion in all categories (team, individual women’s and men’s), is faced with formidable competitors: Russia, the US, the UK and Spain.
To decide between them, a panel of ground based international judges not only score the pilots from below but ensure that they all fly within the authorized perimeter, called the "box", a virtual cube of 1,000 m x 1,000 m x 900 m (1,000 m = 3,280 ft), located 100 metres (328 feet) above ground level. A highly difficult exercise at 250 mph (400 km/h).
To take the individual world championship title, they have to obtain the closest note to 10 after the four programmes (Known programme, Free programme, Free Unknown Programme 1, Free Unknown Programme 2). And for their team to be placed, it's the best overall average of the results for the first three pilots from each country that count.
Over the ten days of the competition, the 28th World Aerobatic Championships should draw some 50,000 curious onlookers and enthusiasts, with the titles being awarded this saturday, on 29 August.