WORLD FLYING CHAMPIONSHIPS – 2006 – Part 1 – The Practice


Incorporating the 15th World Rally Flying Championships,
and the 17th World Precision Flying Championships

Troyes, France – 21 to 31 July 2006.

By Chris Booysen

S A Rally and Precision Team Logo

Part 1 – The Practice

The SA Flying Team departed from Johannesburg International on Friday 14 July 2006 to Troyes via Dubai and Charles de Gaulle in Paris. The team arrived at Troyes, about 150km South of Paris by 16:00, a long and exhausting trip.

2006 World Flying Championships - Airshow
Troyes Air Show.

The organisers had arranged an air show for Sunday and the team had their first taste of the hot weather that Europe was experiencing. The temperature was about 40 degrees!

The air show was interesting as it included a number of aircraft and displays that have not been seen in South Africa. The organisation was not a slick as we are used to in South Africa as there were large gaps between the displays. The show was also spoiled by a commentator that played loud music or made a running commentary during the displays. Is was really disappointing to have the sound of a Wellington Bomber drowned out. The displays included a Spitfire, a mock dog fight between two Tiger Moths and a Sopwith Camel, a Vampire, F18 of the Spanish Air Force (they brought two to the show), a Junkers, two Comets and

The highlights of the show were the French Air Force Aerobatic Team – the “Patrouille de France”, and an absolutely amazing display by Xavier de Lapparent a Sukhoi SU26. It is impossible to describe the manoeuvres that this aircraft was made to do. Flick flacks, hovers, side slides and tail slides were the order of the day.

2006 World Flying Championships -Troyes
The Team Bus – thanks to Hans Schwebel

The practice period, which ran from Sunday 16 July to Saturday 22 July, went well. There has just not been enough time. We are up at 7am to be at the airfield by 8:00 for the first flight. The last flight ends at about 6pm and then the team returns to the hotel for a team meeting. By the time we have debriefed and found a restaurant for supper it is 8pm. The weather has also made it demanding. The temperatures during the day (sunrise at 06:00 and sunset at 22:00) have been in the mid 30’s with the night time temperatures not dropping much below 28. There is very little shade outside where most of the time is spent. The temperature in the hangar provided for the pilots is probably 5 degrees higher than the outside temperature. Water consumption (at R15 per litre) is high.

The organisers provided three precision routes and we purchased three practice rally routes. Over the five days each pilot flew most of those six routes. We also had a few landing sessions to sharpen those skills. The terrain is very “busy” with an enormous amount of information. The pilots have to filter out all the smaller farm roads and concentrate on the more major features otherwise there is just too much to look at. The maps are reasonably accurate but the topographical information is a bit dated. Most towns are a bit larger than depicted so a road intersection shown outside a town might now be in the town.