Thursday, February 3, 2011

World’s Top Pilots Battle It Out On Ground Ahead Of Aerobatic Competition

Al Ain, UAE. February 3rd, 2011: Swapping flight controls for steering wheels, some of the world’s best stunt pilots sharpened their skills on a specially built karting track Thursday morning, as they made the most of the break in flying caused by the weather-delayed Al Ain Aerobatic Show opening.

The six daredevil pilots competing in the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) Desert Challenge – the centrepiece of the show, which runs Friday and Saturday – got a chance to size up their aerial opponents before the sky-high competition commences, thanks to the Al Ain Raceway’s custom-made race track at Al Ain International Airport.

And with their lightning-quick reflexes and gusty bravado, the pilot racers – all top-10 FAI event rankers in the last two years – were in eclectic form as they readied to swap four wheels on the ground for their high-performance CAP232, Sukhoi 26 and Xtreme aircraft.

“Since the weather hasn’t allowed us to compete in the air, we decided to ground the contest and make the most of the fantastic facilities that have been set up at the show,” said Castor Santoba, who will battle it out in both classic and free-style challenges for top-bragging rights in the inaugural, high-octane Desert Challenge.

“As an added bonus, the break in flying has also given us the chance to explore Al Ain a bit and get to experience the friendliness and hospitality the Oasis City is famous for.”

With adverse weather conditions affecting the show’s opening two days, organisers have extended timings for Friday and Saturday to give visitors more chances to see the 15 aerobatic and display teams from three continents in action, as well as to enjoy the wide range of on-the-ground family activities.

The show will now run from 10am to 6.30pm, with gates opening to the show’s interactive entertainment zones from 9am on both days. Tickets for Wednesday and Thursday are valid for the weekend.

The show, organised by the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) in conjunction with the UAE Armed Forces, will present the largest spectator offering in the event’s nine-year history, with plenty to keep aviation aficionados and junior fans entertained on the ground while the world’s best pilots dazzle in the skies.

Information about the show and ticket details can be found on the website at

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