The Formation Aerobatics Championships 2017, Zhengzhou China.

FAC 2017

Pilots from the FAC 2017 Zhengzhou

Many months of work and visits over to China resulted in the first Formation Aerobatic Championships with class 2 FAI sanction, however at the last moment this was ‘converted’ by the Air Sports Federation of China (ASFC) to a simple air display. This resulted in the event being flown, as a trial for future events to be held worldwide. 

The decision by the ASFC didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the twelve teams, nor the determination to excel, even though we are forbidden to publish any official results. 

We flew nearly 800 flights and 300 hours during the event. CCTV and the other 9 TV channels reported (to date) 38,190 instances of news and video broadcast to a possible an audience of 1 billion people. 

The Blades (GB) from Sywell, flew magnificently and picked up ‘Best Flight Display’. For the signature sequence they had an interesting opening style, towards the crowd and fan break, then some rapid join-up and into some interesting formation shapes.  The team is made up of former RAF Red Arrows pilots. 

The Global Stars (GB) led by Tom Cassells, with competition background, did very well designing a ‘Classic’ sequence to the maximum K factor possible. Flying extremely well, it could be said they were the top ‘civilian’ team of the event. 

Team Xtreme (ZA) led by Nigel Hopkins, are no newcomers to flying in China and flew the Sbach (XA42) with great style. Whilst flown by South African pilots, the team was founded by an Chinese company, resident in Faku. The Sbach was chosen due to its ease of assembly/ disassembly for shipping. 

The Raptors (ZA) flew a nice tight sequence with the RV type, all aircraft sporting a different colour scheme. I personally feel this team had one of the toughest jobs, not having an abundance of power with fixed pitch propellers did call for extremely good handling. Not once did I see a man out of position. 

Yakovlevs (GB) flying the YAK 52, Owner and Team Leader, Jez Hopkinson led his team of 5 YAK 50’s and made an impressive amount of noise and smoke before taking to the air to perform an equally impressive set of sequences, but were unable to incorporate the butterfly loop into their ‘Classic’ discipline.

CAPTENS (FR) Adam and Marianne Shaw from France flew this graceful pair of CAP 10’s in a tight, well-practised manner and being only 180hp, energy had to be carefully managed.

The First Flight (RU) with Mikhail Mamistov and Oleg Shpolianskii flying the SU29, were seen to fly the compulsory figures very precisely, right in front of the Judges. It was very clear that this pair have an UNL competition background.

The Presidential Team ‘ANBO’ (LT) led by Rolandas Paksas, the former President and Prime Minister of Lithuania, and current serving European MP flew 3 YAK 50’s. Rolandas first represented the USSR in 1982 at the Unlimited World Aerobatic Championships finishing 15th flying the most modern aerobatic aircraft at the time that the USSR offered, the YAK 50.  The team fly from Kaunas. The trio displayed very nicely indeed, upon returning to Lithuania all aircraft will be painted in team colours.

Hawks of Romania (RO) all flew the Extra 300L in a well, tightly choreographed format. I believe I delivered at least one of the team’s aircraft new from the factory many years ago.

Red Baron (AU) Their shipping container had a rather rough journey and both aircraft arrived in China, damaged and unserviceable to fly throughout the event.  Team Leader, Joel Haski then hired two aircraft from the Global Stars team and within a short while, were flying very nicely and performing to a high standard.

Pioneers (IT) team from Italy flying the Pioneer series of rotax powered aircraft did a very commendable ‘Signature’ sequence with coloured smoke and pyros; I’m sure this will result in further bookings 🙂
Doubleas Aerobatic Team (ES) the Spanish pair, Ramon Alonso (2007 World Champion) flying the SU31 and Jorge Macias Alonso in a 260hp Laser also performed to a high standard throughout the event.

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