Two pilots from the Australian Aerobatic Team have wrapped up competing in the 26th FAI World Aerobatic Championships in Italy.
After drawing difficult early positions in the flight order for the qualifying rounds last week, Richard Wiltshire and Paul Andronicou both had smooth flights, with Wiltshire qualifying in 41st and Andronicou in 44th position in a field of more than 50 seasoned aerobatic pilots from 16 countries.
However, during the competition proper, which was staged at the Aero Club of Foligno from August 31 to September 11, both Wiltshire and Andronicou failed to progress to the final flight program.
After moving up in the standings during the second flight, they were unable to capitalise to move into the top 75 per cent of the field. Victoria-based Andronicou was unlucky to miss the cut by just two places after making several small errors in what was a difficult combination of figures to fly. In the Provisional Overall standings, Andronicou placed 39th and Wiltshire 45th.
Team Manager Grant Piper said the team were well aware that the Unknown flight program would be a difficult challenge, made tougher still by the fact that the Aussie pilots were not competing in their own aircraft. A similar problem was faced by the South African team, with the tyranny of distance and funds also proving difficult to overcome for the only other team from the Southern Hemisphere.
“It’s hard to talk it up when we finished in the last tranche of pilots, but we agree it has been great experience and a real privilege for me personally to be involved,” Piper said. “We will take a lot of positives out of various parts of the competition.
“There is only one way to get competitive on the world stage – get experience and coaching. We are not far off the mark and our planning has been good. We do need more exposure at the top level before we can become genuine contenders.”
CAPTION: The Australian Aerobatic Team 2011 in front of the Extra 300S they flew in the FAI World Aerobatic Championships 2011. Left to right: pilot Paul Andronicou, Team Manager Grant Piper, pilot Richard Wiltshire.
This year marks the first time in over a decade that Australia has fielded a team at the FAI World Aerobatic Championships. The Australian Aerobatic Club has plans in place to continue to develop the team and its support structures to the point where it can field a genuinely competitive team in future international competitions.