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New format for microlight and gyrocopter racing

December 3, 2015

A radically new approach to flexwing microlight and gyrocopter competitions - that gets spectators closer to the action - has been launched at the FAI World Air Games in Dubai. And the first heats got under way near the Desert Dropzone today (December 3).

UK champion Mark Fowler, flying a P&M Pegasus QuikR, lead after the first flexwing microlight heat, in which pilots were given special dispensation to turn their craft at 90-degree bank angles around a course made up from a series of inflatable pylons positioned in the dunes. "We've never flown bank angles this high so close to the ground before," he said.

Their runs around the zig-zagging course were an enthralling display for the 200 spectators and TV crew members who came to watch the competition. Teams from France, Poland, Czech Republic and China were among those competing against the Brits. Rob Grimwood, the event director said: "The aim of this new format is to promote microlighting. It really gives the spectators a great show."

There are extra points available for performing a short take off and engine-off landing accuracy, as well as for speed, so the competition is a real test of pilot skill, regardless of the type of flexwing microlight used.

The gyrocopter competition is being run to the same format, something that gave current European champion Marcos Chulia from Spain a few pre-race jitters. "I'm good at navigation," he said. "But a lot of emphasis is on landing accuracy, and that's not my strong point."

His fears were ungrounded, though. Chulia went on to achieve the highest score possible in the first heat for his landing.

Look out for the final heats of the competition, due to be held at the Palm Dropzone, where competitors will race around pylons in the water, later this week.

Andy Pag

Phtots: Marcus King/FAI Media Team

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