And the race is on!

We got our first flights underway today and there were no hard zeros! - for those not familiar with competition aerobatics this is when a pilot makes a mistake such that the figure flown is deemed to have been incorrect. This could be due to forgetting and flying the wrong figure, or just making a mistake such that it didn't quite turn out how you expected. Either way, you get no marks from the judges for that figure, so it's something we are trying to avoid. It's amazing how much more nerve-wracking it feels being an international competition, in a way we, perhaps naively, didn't quite expect. The waiting around is worse than for a gliding competition, as at least they give you a launch 'no

Let the competition begin!

It's all beginning to feel rather real now as last night the competition was declared open! We were lucky enough to experience a cultural mix of song and dance from across South Africa which, where relevant, was narrated with the cultural significance and history of each song and dance. Unfortunately Mike and I drew very early numbers in the competition (2 and 4 respectively) so we weren't really able to enjoy the event as much as we might have liked given an early start beckoned; the following day loomed with the prospective of flying commencing at 0800. That said as I write this, the weather (due to strong wind) has prevented the start of flying and we are now playing a rather tense waitin

Training over - we're heading to the competition in Mossel Bay!

After a week of training at our little oasis in Swellendam, we must sadly say goodbye and head, with intrepedation, to the competition site in Mossel Bay. We have learnt to love the Slick 360, which is certainly a more capable aircraft than any of us are used to. Given this, however, it is not without its challenges and whilst she doesn't bite us as much as on those first flights, we still occasionally revert back to what we know best (our little Extra 230) and then things don't quite go according to plan. We have many times found ourselves inadvertently upside down whilst trying to re-position during our training flights. We are beginning to be reminded that our amazing flying holiday in So

Mike and Emily on BBC Breakfast

Ahead of the British Team travelling to South Africa for the World Intermediate Aerobatics Championships, Mike Bushell, from the BBC met Mike and Emily and White Waltham airfield to find out a bit more about aerobatics. Thanks to sports presenter Mike Bushell and cameraman Jamie Beard for helping publicise our sport to the masses. Watch the video here.

Licence Validations through - let the flying commence!

Our licence validations have finally come through and we have started training - it's a steeper learning curve than we expected, but we are lucky enough to have some spectacular scenery to accompany our training. After our first flights returned to the accommodation, slightly downbeat, as the realisation hit us of just what a mountain it was that we still had to climb. However, we remain unphased and we have made a plan for tomorrow to master these Slick 360 aircraft - we'll write more about them in a future blog post once we have got to know the aircraft a bit better. Here are a couple of photos - the top one is Mike on his first flight and the bottom is fellow team member Chris, preparing

British Team arrive in South Africa

So, after months of preparation, the first half of the team arrive in South Africa. We are training at Swellendam airfield which just has the most spectacular scenary. This will be our backdrop for the next week while we try to familiarise ourselves with the new aircraft. It's going to be a steep learning curve, but we're all looking forward to the challenge. The aircraft have now arrived but we are waiting for our licence validations to come through so we can't start flying just yet. The photos below show the 'control tower' at the airfield, as well as the aircraft we will be flying as it arrives at Swellendam. This is the first glimpse we had of what we would be competing in, with only jus

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