11 Jun 2024

Counting down to the 2024 International Heli Races in Poland: 14-15 June

Top helicopter pilots will gather in Przylep, Poland on 14-15 June for the 2024 International Heli Races. Crews will participate in Fender Rigging and Slalom tasks during this FAI Category 2 competition.

  • Friday 14 June: Opening ceremony, briefings and first day’s competition tasks: Parallel Slalom
  • Saturday 15 June: Second day of competition: Parallel Fender. Prize giving at the 2nd World Helicopter Rally event.

Serafina Ogończyk-Mąkowska, president of the FAI Rotorcraft Commission (CIG) and president of the ‘Helisport’ aviation association hosting the event, has confirmed that German, Polish and Czech crews will be present, as well as observers from India and Lithuania. NAC’s Presidents of Greece, Libia, Cyprus have also been invited.

She also reveals that two legends of helicopter sport will be present on the FAI judges’ panel:

Lothar Oehler served as a pilot in the German Army Air Force for 12 years and competed in his Helicopter World Championships in Piotrków Trybunalski in 1981. He has acted as an FAI international referee at various World Championships.

Hubert Gesang, currently serving as Vice President and Secretary of the FAI Helicopter Commission of the Commission, is an experienced pilot and international referee and member of the Deutscher Aero Club.

The 2nd World Helicopter Rally and 2024 International Heli Races event is held under the patronage of the Polish Ministry of National Defense, the Ministry of Sport and Tourism and the Ministry of Infrastructure.

As part of the rally, many helicopters will be displayed and will attract aviation fans. Military helicopters, helicopter manufacturers, civilian, private and corporate machines, including such unique machines as: Mi-2, Mi-24; W-3PL, SW-4, AW-101; SH-2G, Mi-14, AW-149, Mi- 8, Mi- 17, W-3/WA and a number of Robinsons. The event and helicopters on display will be  immortalised in an Air to Air photo session by Sławek Krajniewski, known as Hesja.

About the Heli Race 2024 tasks

Helicopter air sports competitions require accurate navigation and control from the crew. The tasks can be set in precision, navigation, fender and slalom. For the Heli Race 2024, there will be two tasks: fender and slalom, and both will be held in parallel, offering spectators a thrilling show.

Fender Rigging

Fender rigging involves accurate flying whilst manoeuvring a boat fender through a course to place the fender in a series of barrels in a predetermined sequence during an allocated time. Penalty points are awarded for surpassing the time, if the fender touches the ground, following the order incorrectly, failure to complete a barrel or for incorrect length of rope.

After the starter signal, the helicopter takes off vertically and when the rope is extended to a length of 4m and the fender is in the air, the helicopter moves towards the 3m wide entry gate. After inserting the bumper into the first barrel, the rope is extended to 6m and the bumper is then pulled out of the barrel. After this the crew approach the next barrels to perform the following tasks.

The competition ends with the Fender being placed in the last barrel and the operator releasing the rope.


Slalom offers a spectacular competition in which communication is key. An 8-kilogram bucket suspended from a 5-metre rope is held by the operator, who must control the bucket through 11 one-metre wide gates around a 185m long by 50m wide course. Penalties are incurred for missing or hitting the gates, losing water from the bucket, inaccurate placement on the table and not completing the course in the time of 2 minutes and 15 seconds.

The task begins at the starting line - an empty bucket weighing approximately 3 kg rests on the ground and the operator holds an outstretched hand on 3-metre marker on the rope. The helicopter must then fly to a barrel filled with water and the operator's task is to fill the bucket as quickly as possible. If successful, the operator extends the rope to a length of 5 meters, and the pilot increases the height by pulling the filled bucket from the barrel and moves towards the first gate.

Once the gates have been completed, the operator must then extend the rope 11 metres and place the bucket of water in the centre of a one-metre wide table.

Recent developments in Polish helicopter sport

CIG President Ogończyk-Mąkowska remarks that, “2023 and 2024 have been exciting times for helicopter sport. The first World Helicopter Rally in Płock in 2023 received wide coverage in the media and public space. On the final day of the rally, 69 helicopters took part in the event! At the same time, qualifying rounds for the Polish National Helicopter Team were held, in which 20 pilots took part.”

Going on to give some context, she reminds us that, “The Polish history of helicopter sport dates back to 1965 and comes from the army, based on search and rescue operations. Helicopter sport is the perfect solution for increasing your skills and gaining flight time.”

The Helicopter Rally event organised by Heliport carries the slogan 'Helicopters in the service of the state'. Heliport wishes to encourage helicopter sports competitions and raise awareness of the function of helicopters in support of public services such as rescue, defense, patrol and promoting aviation knowledge and skills in society.