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Competition heats up as final pilots confirm for Al Ain Aerobatic Show 2009

posted on 07/01/2009: 1624 views



A final two gravity-defying pilots have confirmed participation in January's hair-raising Aero GP air race series, nicknamed aviation's 'Formula One', which will debut in the Middle East at the Al Ain Aerobatic Show 2009.

Hungarian veteran and two-time Aero GP Champion, Zoltan Veres, joins American fly-boy, Smokey Young in a lineup of much-medalled ace pilots.

'The introduction of the full Aero GP line-up and a host of the world's top pilots to the Al Ain calendar further elevates the Garden City of the United Arab Emirates on the global leisure aviation map,' said Ahmed Hussein, Deputy Director General Tourism Operations, Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA), which organises the show.

Competition will be fierce for the season opening Aero GP Al Ain - the multi-discipline aerobatics event and the only international air racing series with multiple airplanes simultaneously competing against each other (a sport called 'pylon racing'). All eyes are expected to be on Veres, who is planning to fly away with the season opening championship in his new, state-of-the-art aircraft.

Veres, who boasts more than 15,000 flying hours, has recently invested in a USA-built MXS plane for the Al Ain Aerobatic Show, which runs from the 28-31st January 2009, and is hoping its increased speed capabilities will propel him to the top of the table once again.

Organised in conjunction with the UAE Air Force, Al Ain Aerobatic Show 2009, which also features displays by breathtaking stunt and wing-walking teams, is expected to attract more than 130,000 spectators.

'These pilots are the world's very best and to have them battle it out here in Al Ain, at the Middle East's first Aero GP event, is a another first for us,' added Hussein.

Jeff Zaltman, Managing Director of Aero GP, says Veres, known for his close-to-ground exploits, will ramp up the adrenaline factor for spectators.

'This is the first time that pylon racing has been seen in this region,' he said, explaining that all six pilots will fly in the air together and at speeds of up to 550kmph. 'Zoltan can expect that his speed advantage will stand him in good stead in the opening event, but it will be interesting to see how he does in the other disciplines.' As well as a straight air race, Aero GP requires pilots to prove their mettle in aerial combat and tests their aim in the 'barnstorming' targeting competition.

'Zoltan will be keeping all the other pilots occupied as they train for Al Ain. They all know he's gone out and bought a very fast plane and they know only too well what he is capable of as he's already won two Aero GPs, beating most of them on his way to the top.' Each of the six competing pilots will fly their own aircraft, and under Aero GP rules, must use the same plane for each discipline.

'Zoltan has taken a bit of a gamble this year,' continued Zaltman. 'The MXS is very fast but there will obviously be a trade-off when he competes in the events that require more finesse.

'The fast planes tend not to be as manoeuvrable as the slower models. There are planes that the Aero GP pilots tend to favour, which are good 'all round' planes, so it's going to be interesting to see what Zoltan can come up with.' Veres, who loves to fly upside-down, will be joined in the air by Young, who began his aviation career with the US Air Force, where he plied his trade behind the controls of the spacious cockpits of 727s and 757s. He is an air combat instructor and an expert in tactical dog fighting. Spectators can expect him to excel in the Aero GP's air-to-air battle segment.

Veres and Young join previously announced pilots, Andy Bickmore, Mark Jefferies and Gerald Cooper in the Aero GP line-up. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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