President of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), Mr. Wolfgang WEINREICH, awarded World Champion Trophies and Diplomas to the winners of the 2nd Series of the FAI World Grand Prix:

Jurgis KAIRYS               (LTU)   1st Place - Solo Aerobatics
APACHE                        (FRA)   1st Place - Formation Teams
SUKHOI Design Bureau (RUS)    1st Place - Aircraft Manufacturer

The ceremony took place at the Olympic Museum, Lausanne on 27th January in the presence of Mr. Ivo Mazzola representing the Board of FAI Directors, Mr. Osmo Jalovaara Vice-President of the International Aerobatic Commission (CIVA) and an important public attendance.
Everyone was very impressed by the presentation of the new Grand Prix film about Aerobatics that was previewed on Swiss TV the week before.

Mr. Weinreich underlined the very important role of the FAI World Grand Prix in the research and development of FAI competitions and air sports technology.
Meanwhile, on behalf of the CIVA President, Mr. Jalovaara underlined the mutual support between the Grand Prix World Championship and traditional World Aerobatic Championships.

The 2nd Series of events of the World Grand Prix were held between January 1998 and December 2000. From 2001 onwards, the Series will be held every year.

The schedule for 2001 is not yet finalised as a few events are still under discussion in Japan, China, Hungary, France and USA.

The Nippon Motegi (Honda) Grand Prix should be held in the first week of November. Please refer to the FAI calendar, it will be updated as soon as events are officially confirmed.

The FAI World Grand Prix Championship is opened to all types of aircraft, propellers and jet engines, to solo pilots and formation teams.

P. Besenyei – J. Kairys – V. Tchmal  Apache Formation Team 
The winners at Lausanne Space Knights  
Sukhoi Duo  Sky Box 


Twin Ring Motegi and the FAI confirm the 2001 Aerobatics Japan Grand Prix to be held at Motegi, 2-4 November 2001 with 9 solo pilots and 3 formation teams.
Sky Box are scheduled to return to Japan after one year absence. They are eager to take their revenge on Sukhoi Duo who won the 2000 Motegi contest and to regain their world title from Apache! But Space Knights are still watching!



The FAI World Grand Prix family is very sad to announce the death of their very good friend Martin Stahalik. All information received to date indicates that he was not flying competition aerobatics on his SU26 single seater, but he was on board a two-seater Yak52 in Holland.We will miss him, he was a really nice man and a fantastic pilot. We send our deepest sympathy to Martin's family.
Below is the report from Teuge airport.

On Friday, March 9 the Yak-52 registered RA02080 crashed on an agricultural area near Raalte in The Netherlands, 8 NM east of his take-off airport Teuge (EHTE). Both pilots died.

One of the pilots was the famous Czech aerobatics-pilot Martin Stahalic.

He was invited by Red Star aerobatics at Teuge Airport for an instruction week.
The other pilot, Lex Bosman, was one of the owners of the Yak-52.
The Dutch Board of Transport Safety is investigating the accident. Results are not expected till late summer 2001.
Our thoughts are with family and friends of both pilots.


31 MAR 2001 – SUKHOI DUO GO EAST by Paul Bonhomme

It seemed too good to be true. Steve Jones and I had been invited to compete in two formation aerobatic competitions to be held in China and Japan towards the end of the year 2000. We would initially go to Soujou city, about three hours by bus west of Shanghai and then on to the Motegi motor racing circuit in Japan to compete in the FAI World Grand Prix of Aviation events.

The FAI 'WGPA' is a Swiss based organisation run by ex-Patrouille de France Team Leader Jean-Louis Monnet to promote aerobatic competition throughout the world. His main thrust is to make it dynamic and exciting to watch and to appeal to everybody, not just aerobatic enthusiasts. Hence, all flights are to music and the whole competition (10 solo entries and typically 3 or 4 formation entries) takes just one and a half hours to run. Strict time schedules and slick planning would make for a truly spectacular 90 minutes.

The event has been running for several years and if you are in any doubts about the standards you only have to look at the names of the solo competitors... Jurgis Kairys, Nikolay Timofeev, Victor Tchmal, Peter Besenyei to name but a few. We sensed that we were about to enjoy ourselves...

We had not performed at any airshows at all during the summer of 2000 (in acting parlance 'we were resting') so a weekend of practice over the Cotswolds started the ball rolling and armed with a few new ideas we set off to the Far East.

The first competition was in China and the flying was to be held over Lake Tai Hu near Soujou City. The judges were situated at the front of a wooden grandstand on the edge of the lake along with the crowd who on the last day numbered 200,000.

Team from France. Sky Box in their four Zlin 50s were going to be pretty hard to beat and the Apache team (Jacques Bothelin of Martini/Ecco/PC-7 fame and his men) had never flown Sukhois before so it was going to make for an interesting week. (The Apache Team and we were borrowing Sukhoi 26's from the Russians for the competition).

Our fellow competitors for the formation event were the Sky Box team from the Czech Republic and the Apache.  Two days of practice were flown and Steve and I were fairly happy with proceedings. The rules were broadly based on a freestyle competition so we were able to change our sequence as required to suit the landscape and the time that we were allowed. We had some new manoeuvres to try which included a formation inside/outside Cuban.

This was easy for me as a leader but a little more difficult for Steve as follower but after a little practice it worked well. Our 'bread and butter' manoeuvres were looking good.

One slight drawback to the week was that the lake was about 8km from the airfield and therefore we couldn't watch the other teams to see what they had been getting up to and more importantly to possibly steal some ideas from them!

Oh well...

Qualification day dawned and the day's flights would determine the order that we flew in for the actual competition. And so we found ourselves trundling along over China in a pair of Russian Sukhoi 26's in somewhat marginal visibility to have fun over a lake. Everything was going to be just fine... except we were zeroed for positioning and we were placed last. We were trying to please the crowd as well as the judges. The officials said that after we had disappeared behind the decorative flowers in front of them for the second time it was going to be hard to ignore the infringement of the minimum 50-metre height rule. The cameraman on the pontoon wasn't too impressed either...

Never, mind, It's all good experience we told ourselves and so onto the competition.

The weather looked pretty good apart from the odd shower and a slight on crowd wind and we were first in the team event. In hindsight I should have seen it coming but I didn't. As soon as we were pulling up towards the judges I knew it would end in tears. A solo pilot could have just pulled like a demon with a huge portion of roll but I had Steve to think about. He stayed in place beautifully as I racked the formation round as hard as I dared but it was too late, we had just tweaked the deadline.

The words that I muttered to myself are sadly not printable in this family publication but the show had to go on and if I say so myself the rest of the sequence worked fantastically. On landing back at the airfield I phoned Jean-Louis who was with the judges and he confirmed my fears, we had been disqualified.

The award ceremony was a bit boring really, funny how when you lose it's boring, but when you win they are quite enjoyable affairs. More interesting was the fact that the Sky Box team had also been disqualified as well as two of the solo pilots. Observers mentioned that at the time of the deadline infringements there had been a squall in the distance, which had increased the on-crowd wind component.

We had all been caught out by the simplest of things. I was extremely annoyed with myself for not 'working it out' in time and because I had let Steve down with my poor positioning. Most amusing though was the fact that Jacques and the boys had won the formation event having never flown Sukhois before. By their own admission they had flown their PC-7 routine due to not having any experience of Sukhoi aerobatics. If you ever need proof that doing the simple things well is better than doing the complicated things badly then here it is. That evening we had a few beers with the Sky Box team to commiserate...

And so on to Japan.

We had spent the time in between the two events poring over the design of the sequence, so determined were we that we should not get caught out by such a trivial thing again. We kept our formation loop with a yaw-off at the top and 4 positive flicks as well as our trademark 'slide by': both pulling to the 45, rolling to knife edge then top rudder to form a horizontal slide in formation. The synchro manoeuvres that we had been flying were all reviews and most would stay the same. The roll around, Steve rolling around my inverted aircraft; the cross over; the mirror 360; the outside Cuban. New for Japan was the formation tailslide and by golly, what a sight it was to see Steve about 20 yards away going backwards in his smoke whilst I was disappearing into my own cloud of diesel in reverse.

And all the time the emphasis was on the 'what ifs' of the sequence to make absolutely sure that we wouldn't get caught out again.

Qualification day went well. For a start the weather was just glorious, blue skies and virtually no wind. Apart from anything else having no wind meant that landing and taking off was easier from our 400-metre runway that had been tastefully created from a car park. We would be flying a qualifying flight, a demonstration flight and two ferry flights on this and the competition day as well as two positioning flights in what we called our 'own' air-taxi helicopter.

So, a busy couple of days and all I had to do was to remember which was the qualification flight and which was the demo flight. It would be 50 metres minimum height for the comp and no limit for the demo. Easy! (That's what I thought in China.)

So, up into the blue skies we flew and guess what, the planning paid off and we qualified first. We were so eager to do well on the comp day that we actually stayed clear of the hotel bar that night...

Competition day dawned and during our sequence our tailslide worked fantastically. We stopped at the same time, we slid for the same distance, toppled at the same time and best of all as I pulled from the down vertical Steve had moved into echelon just 6 feet away.

Well, suck my old boots, we'll win this if we're not careful.
We landed in the car park and I have to say I was suppressing a huge grin.  It had gone extremely well!



The Apache Team flew next followed by the other formation team, the Space Knights.
Steve and I were at this stage sent to an airfield 40 miles south to pick up the aircraft that the Apache team was going to leave there. (Very sensibly they didn't want to mix Sukhois with car parks).

It was whilst taxiing to return to Motegi that we learned that we had won.

There followed a very enjoyable flight home and an 'impromptu' display (requested by the organiser) for the waiting crowd.

The awards ceremony was a most enjoyable affair
(funny that!)



Both events were extremely well received by the Japanese and Chinese and I understand plans are well underway for 2001 for this style of competition to be held worldwide.

Overall, an extremely well organised event, fantastic people, great fun and all the time well looked after by our hosts.

Can't wait 'til next year...



Precisions are added to the Sporting Code regarding minimum altitudes, distances from the public and areas to determine obstacles for runways on non-airport sites (minimum specifications).



China Sichuan International Aerobatic Festival has been formally ratified by the State Sports Administration on March 22, 2001.
It will be held July 13-16, 2001 in Guanghan, Sichuan, which is worldwide famous for the Chinese Sanxingdui relics.
Guanghan is also the hometown of the "China Civil Aviation Flight College" for airline pilots.

This great event has enjoyed all-out support from not only the People's Liberation Army of China, the Air Force and all levels of the Sichuan Province Government, the aviation sports administration CCASF and press circles.

The official research shows that Guanghan is topographically flat and enjoys excellent weather conditions. It is fully suitable for high level international aerobatics. The FAI World Grand Prix will meticulously select seven ace pilots to attend this festival and present a thrilling performance.

In addition, through the elaborative organization of the committee, we have successfully invited the Chinese Air Force "August 1st" aerobatic team, the first civilian Chinese aerobatic team "Blue Dreams", and the parachute teams of CASF who have won many world championships and so on.

At the moment, ace military planes, sport planes, skydivers, parachutists and many other aircraft will perform a stirring symphony in Guanghan. High skilled aerobatics experts from different countries will dance in the blue sky of Guanghan.
The enthusiasts of aviation from home and abroad will create an ocean of happiness at the site.
In addition, pop stars from Hong Kong and Taiwan will surely put Guanghan into the spotlight of China and the whole world in July. Thousands of audiences will hear and watch the pageant from the media.

The Guanghan Sanxingdui relics attracts focus of the world with its particular cultural characteristics. 500,000 tourists come and visit it each year. Recently, Sanxingdui has been placed into the list of the greatest archaeological discoveries of the 20th century.


With all respect due to the symbol of the mask, we sincerely believe that it represents the face and protruding eyes of an aerobatic pilot flying inverted under -10g a few thousand years ago.

If not, then the resemblance is absolutely fabulous and adds a new mystery to the most ancient civilizations.
(Private unofficial comment).

Holding the International Aerobatic Festival can make Sanxingdui and Sichuan province more well-known to the world, furthermore, it will promote the development of Western China and cultivate the abundance of reserve talents.

Should this operation be successful, then the Festival will be regularly held in Guanghan every two years in March. Learning from the advanced experience of other countries and the management patterns, we would make it the most successful event for cultural exchange in aviation.



Seven pilots will participate in the China Sichuan International Aerobatic Festival:

Solo pilots                    
Peter BESENYEI           HUN
Kirby CHAMBLISS         USA
Jurgis KAIRYS               LIT
Svetlana KAPANINA      RUS
Viktor TCHMAL              RUS

Formation Team Sukhoi Duo                   GBR     Paul BONHOMME & Steve JONES



Grand Prix champions SKY BOX Formation Team and solo pilot Peter BESENYEI announce a new main sponsor, Red Bull Co, (energy drinks).
Welcome to the FLYING BULLS! 



The Golden Dreams Aerobatic Team from Great Britain will join the FAI World Grand Prix to be held next November at Twin Ring Motegi, Japan.
After the Flying Bulls (Sky Box), the Sukhoi Duo, Apache and Space Knights, they will be the fifth formation team to compete at Motegi.
The 16th Grand Prix lives now in the perspective of a fantastic sporting and cultural event with the top aerobatic pilots world wide.



All our aircraft bound for Sichuan are now at sea, en-route to Hong Kong: 1xYak55 departed from Lithuania, 4xSukhoi26 from Russia, 1xEdge 540 from USA and 1xSU31 from Japan. As you can imagine, this is not such a simple logistics operation.
Upon their arrival at Hong Kong, the containers will be transported by truck to Shenzhen (just a few kilometers away, in mainland China) where the aircraft will be unstuffed from their containers and loaded on board two cargo Ilyushyn IL76.
Thanks to the support and collaboration of the Chinese Air Force, all aircraft will then be air freighted to Chengdu / Guanghan. After the show, we will proceed the same way for the return. This operation will be a test event for future Grand Prix competitions in Sichuan.



MAMISTOV and KAPANINA are the new 2001 World Aerobatic Champions!

Mikhail Mamistov won the title of absolute World Aerobatic Champion ahead of the American pilot Robert Armstrong and the French champion Eddy Dussau.
Mamistov was 1995 and 1997 World Champion in Glider Aerobatics and is a current Grand Prix pilot who will compete at Motegi, Japan, in November.

It is the 3rd World Champion title for Svetlana Kapanina after 1996 and 1998, and the first time in aviation history that a pilot wins three World Champion titles in a category (male or female).
You will also admire Svetlana competing in the Motegi Grand Prix in November. Beforehand, in July, she will perform at the China Sichuan Aerobatic Festival.



After the World Aerobatic Champion titles in traditional programmes, we are very pleased to inform you that FAI World Grand Prix pilots have also won the 4-minute Freestyle title.

Klaus SCHRODT (Germany) and Svetlana KAPANINA (Russia) have been awarded the title of Freestyle World Aerobatic Champion as a fabulous conclusion to the World Air Games held at Burgos, Spain.
Congratulations and best wishes to Klaus. It is his first World title in aerobatics and he will certainly be very proud to take home the Manfred Strossenreuther Trophy, which was named in memory of a famous German champion of the eighties. In addition, he was flying an Extra330XS, a German aircraft.

Congratulations also to Svetlana who is the N° 1 female and only second if we do not separate genders, this is a fantastic achievement. It is important to realise that Svetlana won all 5 gold medals available in her category, 3 programmes, the female general title and the freestyle. She is now the pilot with most gold medals won in world Aerobatic Championships ever (3 general ranking 1996, 1998, 2001, 2 x4-minute freestyle 2000, 2001). She is definitely an exceptional champion, but who had any doubt about that?



The 12th show
This is a day by day report of the 1st China Sichuan Aerobatic Festival, our 12th event in P.R. China since 1996. It was launched in December 2000 when our friend Chen Lin, president of the Sichuan Air Club, a typical young and dynamic new red entrepreneur, invited me to Chengdu to discuss this idea. We are now at the conclusion of 6 months of talks and negotiations, everything has been detailed and finalised on paper, it is time for us to make the show.

Olympic Bid
We have been invited here as FAI World Grand Prix pilots, as members of the Olympic Movement, to develop the image of airsports in China but also to offer a spectacular operation to the Sichuan people who wanted to express their support to the Olympic bid of the city of Beijing for the Games 2008.
The winner will be decided on 13th July, first day of the show, between Beijing, Paris, Ottawa, Osaka and Istanbul... Needless to say that all the people of China would be very deeply disappointed if Beijing is not selected.

06 July – Typhoon in Hong Kong
Welcome to Hong Kong! said the air hostess under a round of applause after we landed safely through typhoon Tutor. It was just after it was downgraded from Typhoon warning class 8 (people have to stay home and do not go to work).
Everyone was relieved and in their mind all passengers thanked the Captain and his crew for their professionalism. After a 12-hour flight from Zürich we may have been one hour late but everybody said "Well done Captain!"...
Of course, to be an airline pilot is no longer spectacular everyday but when you have to fight against the unfriendly elements of nature and take your passengers safely to the destination, that's when you reach the magnificence of that kind of passion, more than a job, Captain of a flying boat. Gratitude and congratulations from happy passengers!

07 July – Arrival in Shenzhen
The typhoon has now left Hong Kong and we take the one-hour Hovercraft to Shenzhen where we are welcomed by Garland, a member of the hosting team and a friend we met for the first time in 1996 during the first airshow ever held in China. Since then we have returned to China every year and we have already performed 11 displays and competitions organised in different provinces.

At the hotel we meet our four Russian technicians who had arrived a day earlier and had to spend the night at the airport because they speak only Russian and do not understand Chinese and the staff at the hotel front desk spoke only Chinese and could not understand Russian... They couldn't event communicate with the special language we usually speak between us which is based on English with a sprinkling of words from many countries and with body language and hand signals supposed to make things as clear as possible...

Also arriving in Shenzhen is Eric the American technician of the Edge and my assistants, Lynda (Australian) and Vanessa (French/British living in Greece). We definitely need some women in this field that is predominently male.

Hurricane in Germany
Jurgis Kairys and the two Lithuanian technicians call from Frankfurt, to inform us that their flight has been cancelled due to a back up of delayed aircraft bound for Hong Kong. It is interesting how a gust of wind in Asia can create in Germany the same effect as a hurricane!
However this delay is not yet an issue as the aircraft have just been released by customs and the containers are not scheduled to arrive Shenzhen Airport before 8th July.
Our sports aircraft should then have been loaded into two IL76 cargo aricraft but we are being informed that the organiser finally signed a contract for three return flights of a smaller Y-8 (AN12 in Russia), thanks to the support of the People's Liberation Army.
However, God knows how we will manage to be in time...

Chen Lin
This was the beginning of the bad news when Garland announced that our friend Chen Lin had passed away on 2nd July in a car crash. He was sleeping at the back of the car when a tyre exploded on the motorway. The driver and the passenger were not injured but Chen Lin was ejected from the car.
I was sincerely shocked by this sad news. Chen was the chief of the event, its soul, its driving force, and he was so happy to organise this event in his home province, an airshow for the first time in western China, his dream...
I was thinking of his wife, his young team, his company, his brilliant future and the big project he had for sports aviation in Sichuan. Obviously, further to so many unscheduled elements happening in just a few days, I could feel that this event had a destiny before it even started.
For sure, we had to play more than our part to make it a big success, but I was then definitely attracted by the unknown consequences of this operation.

08 July
We normally experience the difference between a perfect organisation on paper and the reality on site, nothing strange to that. Especially when two different cultures have not the same conception of timing and anticipation, and there is absolutely nobody to blame for that.
We spent several hours waiting for the containers to arrive from Hong Kong and for the Y-8 to land, so we started work at 2p.m. only.
Of course, the first aircraft to be delivered were the ones belonging to the technicians grounded in Frankfurt but we finally made it and, at 7 p.m., one Edge and two SU26 were loaded in the Y-8.
Unfortunately we were informed that it was not possible for the crew to take off that late and to fly at night, therefore departure of the cargo had to be scheduled for the following morning. Meanwhile, the organiser tried to send our technicians to Chengdu via commercial airline (so they could unload the Y-8 on arrival) but each time he did not make the reservations in advance and tickets were sold out when he arrived at the counter. However, he guaranteed that reservations were confirmed for the following morning at 10:15 am.

Peter's Bridge
That evening when everyone returned to the hotel we got a surprise to see a news report on all the Chinese TV channels about our friend Peter Besenyei flying under the oldest and most historical bridge, opposite the House of Parliament in his capital city of Budapest.
I am wondering if it could be in competition to who made his specialty of flying under bridges in Lithuania (see photos on this website)! ...
Please be aware that all these special flights have been seriously practised and they are performed in the most official way, with all reglementary approvals from all authorities concerned.

Peter is very famous in China since he won the 1998 China Cup Tour of the FAI World Grand Prix (8 cities in two months), and he was the first pilot to fly through Tianmen Cave at Zhang Jia Jie, during one of our events organised in 1999. No doubt you will see a few pictures of his Hungarian bridge flight, at least on this website after our return home.

09 July
Bright blue sky. The military Y-8 took off at 7:30 am, but our three technicians could not fly via commercial airline to Chengdu because the person in charge of the reservation at the airport had made a mistake. Therefore, the three technicians will not take off until 7 p.m. and the Y-8 will have to wait for being unloaded.
No Y-8 today but we will have two flights tomorrow, thanks to the PLA.
At 2pm Jurgis Kairys and two Lithuanian technicians arrive at Shenzhen, a little bit exhausted after a long trip.

Part of the group unstuffed the containers and stored the remaining aircraft (one SU31, two SU26 and one Yak55) in a hangar, in readiness for the arrival of the Y-8 on July 10th...

Another part of the group visited Shenzhen and its China Folk Culture Villages.

Our three technicians arrived safely in Chengdu, they will unload the Y-8 tomorrow morning and transport the Edge and two SU26 by truck to Guanghan. This was not really scheduled and I am glad the road is a highway in good condition because the aircraft are no longer packed for that kind of transportation.

10 July
Finally, only one Y-8 will be provided today... The last two aircraft will have to be air freighted on July 11th, therefore time is getting very short for reassembling all aircraft before the show.
I now have to depart for Chengdu.

Great flight to Chengdu in an Airbus A320 of China Southern Airlines, superb hostesses...
Very warm welcome from the organisers, press interviews, we are hosted for the night at the Jinjiang Hotel*****, the best hotel in Western China. We met there Kirby Chambliss, our US champion who just arrived.

On the technical side, we are definitely not ahead of schedule, although a second Y-8 from China Postal Airlines has been rented and landed in Shenzhen late afternoon!
By 8pm all 4 remaining aircraft have been loaded into the two Y-8 and technicians flew to Chengdu for unloading.

Only the Y-8 from China Postal Airlines flew this evening and by the time we transferred all pieces from the aircraft onto trucks, we finished unloading at 2:00 am. So much handling but a great job from the group of technicians and Jurgis who, in addition to being a brilliant pilot, is a very efficient certified mechanics!
The other Y-8 is supposed to take off from Chengdu in the morning...

11 July
The delays are becoming a nightmare, the last aircraft were unloaded at Guanghan at 10pm... We have only one day left to reassemble all aircraft.
All pilots have arrived and went to bed, it will be a hard day tomorrow...

12 July
Misty in the morning, less than 3km visibility until 11 am, then great blue sky...
At the end of the day, all aircraft but one were reassembled and checked in flight.

That was certainly a hard day but how could we miss the goal with such a team of mechanics and pilots? What is interesting in our group is that several pilots are also patented technicians, and that helps a lot when you are running out of time.

By the way, temperature was about 33°C and humidity 82%, it was hot, like the Sichuan food... And very warm also were all the people asking for autographs and photos.

Tomorrow, first day of the show and we'll know the decision of IOC regarding the Beijing 2008 Olympic Bid.

13 July
First day of the Festival, as usual things started with an official ceremony and speeches.
Blue sky above the mist!

About 2km visibility below 3'000 feet, it was not so easy for the audience on-site to see the aircraft and those watching the live TV broadcast on CCTV-5 (the sports channel in China) were not any luckier as the pictures were very hazy.
But isn't it normal for an airshow held on a humid summer morning at 32-34°C?
Every day the show will start at 09:30 and stop at 12.

The programme consists of air models, parachuting, powered parachuting, the Blue Dream team (3-ship formation with CJ-6), another group of 3xCJ-6 for simulated bombing with pyros, our 7 aircraft to fly twice each day (five solos, a formation team of two, and an act with six aircraft), and a group of TB20 and Piper Cheyenne of the Aviation school based in Guanghan.
This Flight College is quite a big one and apparently unique in China for airline pilots.

Our technicians tried to reassemble the Yak55 in the middle of a very nice crowd but not very well controlled. Therefore, it took them a couple of hours more but it was finally ready to fly by the end of the afternoon.

Since the application to fly was not made yesterday, it will now be tested before the show tomorrow morning.

Congratulations to Beijing which has just been elected as the 2008 Olympic city. The Chinese people are very happy and programmes on Chinese CCTV are quite enthusiastic! Everyone has a flag of China in their hands, even the pop singers singing their hits, and fundraising has already started.

14 July
Unfortunately the same weather conditions, very hot and very hazy, less than two kilometers visibility until 12:30pm.

It is difficult to fly in that "bottle of milk" without any horizon but we could not ignore such enthusiastic spectators who were watching their first airshow and would have not understood why we could not fly.
We managed to postpone the flights by one hour and our pilots could finally take off and fly in more reasonabe conditions.

The Yak 55.
First to fly was the Yak 55, flown by Jurgis Kairys in a royal way, with grace and majesty.
Further to the will expressed by a few Chinese organisers, we had bought this aircraft as an assistance to the development of Aerobatics in China. It was obvious to us that, without Chinese pilots flying appropriate types of aircraft, aerobatic competition in China could not be developed. And everyone knowing that airshows are not enough to attract sponsors will understand that modern sports is more than a simple hobby.
Unfortunately, there seemed to be too many obstacles for this aircraft to be imported and promoted in China. Therefore, our partners did not make the decision to buy the Yak55 and we will have a good chance to return it back home.

Olympic celebration
Autographs, photos, interviews, that was the game for all our group all along the day and, in the evening we were invited to a party to celebrate the success of the Beijing Olympic bid... An excuse that could last for a couple of days, if not weeks! Chinese people are really happy, and as part of the Olympic family we believe it is good to see them like that.
2001 also celebrates the 80th birthday of the Chinese Communist Party (born in 1921), so it is a new opportunity to strengthen the national pride.

15 July
The weather today was better, the visibility was still not perfect (around 5 km) but at least the temperature dropped a little bit, thanks to a big storm in the morning.
Today's show was also a big success for all pilots who produced top level perfomances to the delight of the crowd which did not stop cheering and clapping. A great public audience!

In the afternoon we all went to visit the Sanxingdui Museum, the jewel of Guanghan/Sichuan. Indeed it is near Guanghan that the Shu dynasty is said to have reigned 4,000 years ago and the Museum enlights you with the wonderful discoveries and the unsolved mysteries attached to this rich and only recently known civilisation...

The Chen Lin bridge
Close to Sanxingdui Museum there is a bridge that Chen Lin wanted us to fly under. Since he passed away the project has been cancelled and replaced by a flight under a model of the bridge, erected at the airport.
Tomorrow is the last day of the show which will also be broadcast live by the CCTV channels 1 (news) and 5 (sports), especially for the "C" flight (half a loop) under the bridge ... After the bridge (12m high) stands another bridge (6m high), only 75m away.

16 July
It is under a very hot sun and a very much improved visibility that today's highlight -the flights under the bridge- took place.

Flights under the bridge
We call it Chen Lin bridge because it was his idea.
The first to fly under the bridge were Chinese pilots, followed then by Kirby Chambliss, Viktor Tchmal, Svetlana Kapanina (finishing with her trade-mark roll!), Jurgis Kairys, the Sukhoi Duo (simulataneously!) and Peter Besenyei.

The performances were broadcast live by the national TV channels, CCTC1 and CCTV5 from 10 to 12 am.
The airfield was absolutely packed,and the crowd was nothing but delighted making the atmosphere completely ecstatic! It is true that a minimum altitude set at ground level is very popular, but we are quite happy to have a group composed of such great professional pilots.

Closing ceremony
Today was already the last day of the show which was concluded with the usual closing ceremony. The pilots were officially saluted one by one under the loud cheering of the crowd.
Many thanks to the Sichuan Air Club and Chen Lin's company, the Provincial authorities and the Government of Guanghan.

We said good bye this afternoon to the Sukhoi Duo who made their way home and most of the pilots will follow tomorrow. The technicians however will stay here a little bit longer to disassemble the aircraft and get them ready to be shipped to Japan.
However, disassembly and return transportation to Shenzhen were not yet made, they were still part of a new experience to come...

So this is where this chapter ends, thank you all for following us, we hope you enjoyed it!
Next event: FAI World Grand Prix N°016 at Twin Ring Motegi, Japan, for the third time in a row, 02-04 November 2001.
So long!

17 July
The Sukhoi Duo left right after the show on 16th, Airlines Captains always have a very tight schedule.
It was the day after the event, all seven aircraft had been disassembled and packed within 12 hours, ready to be put on trucks bound for Chengdu airport.
Unfortunately, there were no trucks available...

18 July
Departure of Svetlana, Viktor, Peter and Kirby.
Funeral of Chen Lin...

Are you superstitious? As a matter of fact, it was our 13th event in China but I did not want to mention it earlier because Chen Lin had decided to postpone the show by one week to start Friday 13th July (day of the IOC decision regarding Beijing 2008)... Good luck or bad luck? I was myself born on a Friday 13th, let's say that it was good luck for me, maybe not for all others!

Chen Lin's company did not survive to his death and the financial support of the airshow organisers disappeared.
This is maybe why, despite a written contract where all points had been clarified, nothing seemed to have been scheduled for the return of our aircraft. Logistics became a crucial issue, 1600km away from the return boat...

We had to organise ourselves to return all aircraft back to Hong Kong and I must confess it would have been impossible without the support of the Aero Sports Federation of China, the Communist Party, the City Government of Guanghan, the PLA and a few helpful people like the Jin Tai Hotel. Therefore, we are quite happy to express here our deepest gratitude for their assistance.

19 July
At 6:00 am a bus took us to Guanghan airport to load the aircraft on the trucks (a total of nine trucks for 7 aircraft, this info for those who would like to do the same).
Everything was fine in theory, we had been allocated three flights by one military Y-8 (Chinese Antonov 12), one flight on 19th July and two flights on 20th July.

Unfortunately, the weather in Shenzhen area was not perfect and the first departure of the Y-8 from Chengdu was postponed to the following morning (20/7).
Four technicians stayed with me at Guanghan for the loading operations while four technicians were sent with Lynda to Shenzhen to unload the Y-8 cargo upon its arrival.

20 July
The Y-8 took off from Chengdu at 8 a.m.
Trucks were late in Guanghan, we could start loading at 10 am only and reached Chengdu at about 4pm with all remaining aircraft loaded on six trucks. It was far too late to consider a second flight and I was not convinced that the crew of the Y-8 was really keen on flying 8 to 10 hours a day.

We loaded the Y-8 with 3 complete aircraft, it should take off on 21st July.
Only one aircraft was left on the parking at Chengdu airport, waiting for the third Y-8.
We will be definitely too late, all return air tickets will have to be changed. It's not good news for our finances and working schedules but it's not so bad for the adventure.
I think that Chinese people have a secret to remain relax. Maybe we should try the Chinese massages...

21 July
Rain in Shenzhen. The second Y-8 will not take off early from Chengdu... We are getting very, very late and all aircraft out of Hong Kong are fully booked, it's a holiday season.

Since I had a little bit of time ahead of me, I decided to continue this report and to put the first part on line before the end of the game... The conclusion will be made later, hopefully in a couple of days... Who knows?

22 July
The last aircraft landed at lunch time and was stuffed in the afternoon, just in time for Kairys and his two technicians to get the ferry to Hong Kong and their airline to Lithuania. All other people departed on 23rd July.

24 July
Everyone returned home safely and aircraft are in their containers waiting for their vessels.

This was a very interesting event and a great experience in difficult conditions. However, all the Chinese people we met in Sichuan were so nice (and the food so good!) that we finally loved this kind of adventure, but we would not do that every day!

Logistically, there were too muchhandling from boat to trucks then to air cargo and to trucks again, double handling was very common and not necessary. This was exhausting for the technicians, especially when plans always changed at the last minute and such a process for transportation is not recommended in the future.
Either airfreight from homebase to the event site, or vessel and trucks with aircraft into containers, provided the road surfaces are good.

Regarding the development of sport aerobatics in China, things will be difficult if there are no Chinese pilots involved in international competitions.
It is certainly not a question of skills as there is no reason why Chinese pilots, with the appropriate training and aircraft, would not be competitive.
But, which aircraft? At this point, they have no aerobatic aircraft even for advanced level. Therefore, it is a matter of political will, the same will that brought Russian aerobatic pilots to the top worldwide. It is not so much a question of finance, we cannot say that Russian aerobatic pilots are wealthy people!

So, at this point, we could conclude by saying that the test in Sichuan was positive for future airshows or Aerobatic Festivals, but a few logistical issues should be solved before hosting an FAI World Grand Prix competition that would be fair to each competitor. However, let's keep in mind the fact that the boss passed away just a few days before the event, this created a very difficult situation which is fortunately not so common.

Another conclusion is to state that the role of a national Aero Sports Federation is maybe more to settle and strengthen a structure to develop airsports competitions rather than becoming a basic airshow producer.
But, as you know, nothing is very clear in China, and I understood it was useless to make any judgement. Things are always moving at the last minute, just to make your latest statement wrong and stupid...

At least, just go and visit China, Sichuan and Sanxingdui, you will not regret it. But go before the 2008 Olympic Games, China is changing every day!



The next leg of the FAI World Grand Prix will be held at Twin Ring Motegi, Japan, from 2nd to 4th November 2001.
Spectacular novelties will be displayed during the Haute Voltige performances in regards to flights to music (Air Ballets) and Air Theatre (more details to come...). 



Waiting for the next FAI World Grand Prix...
How to have at least 7 aircraft fly at the same time under an arch of the same bridge, knowing that the bridge is 8m high, the wingspan of each aircraft is 8m, and the distance between two arch pillars is 30m?
Considering not to have the same number of aircraft in flight before and after the bridge is not an option...

Solution on 6th October at Jilin! The event will be broadcast live by CCTV1, the main national TV channel in China.

The city and the people of Jilin, in the North East of China, will invite you to attend the performances of Haute Voltige pilots from 3 to 6 October.
Enthusiasts who enjoy witnessing spectacular Guinness records will certainly admire the following internationally renowned pilots:
Peter BESENYEI           (HUN)
Svetlana KAPANINA      (RUS)
Mikhail MAMISTOV        (RUS)
Kirby CHAMBLISS         (USA)

Formation teams:
SPACE KNIGHTS          (FRA)    Réal WEBER, Michel COSTE, Alain AMIOT
SUKHOI DUO                (GBR)   Paul BONHOMME, Steve JONES

Meanwhile, in Japan, Jurgis KAIRYS, a great specialist of flights under bridges, will display another brilliant Haute Voltige performance during the Moto Pacific Grand Prix to be held at Twin Ring Motegi on 7th October.



Of course it is not an FAI competition and, of course all aircraft will not fly under the same arch. Since the bridge is made of 13 arches, each aircraft will fly under its own arch... However, the game will not be so simple!
Spectators should be able to see a formation group of ten aircraft flying together under the bridge. 




Today, nine "Haute Voltige" pilots successfully completed their Guinness Book of Records challenge by flying simultaneously through the same bridge in the heart of Jilin City, PR China.

At least 300,000 people witnessed the event and were rewarded with the fantastic aerobatic displays and precision flying of the "Haute Voltige" team.

Kirby's mishap...
Originally, ten pilots were scheduled to fly through the bridge, but unfortunately Kirby Chambliss (USA) had to withdraw from the Challenge when earlier in the day he had to make an emergency landing in the Jilin river during his solo airshow performance.

Although the aircraft was very badly damaged, Kirby was lucky enough to safely exit his aircraft.
Thanks to the very good emergency services put in place by the Jilin City and the Event Organiser, he was quickly rescued and taken to the hospital. After medical checks and scanner inspection, it was confirmed that he had suffered only a few cuts to the head. 



(Photograph from left to right)
Fabienne Hoerni (tenor)
Annette Kitagawa (alto, arrangements)
Veronica Reiff (alto)
Lisette Wyss  (bariton, arrangements)

Lily Horn is Born - Female Sax Quartet from Switzerland

Lily Horn Is Born uses an unconventional grouping of four saxophones to perform acoustic jazz.

Energetic and "groovy", daring and catchy, and sometimes balladic, poetic and gentle, Lily Horn Is Born takes its audience through the music of the fifties and sixties.

The multi-cultural repertoire of Lily Horn Is Born consists of original arrangements of famous jazz compositions by Thelonious Monk, Hank Mobley, Joe Zawinul, Bobby Timmons and others, old swing hits, and compositions by the band members.

The characteristic sound of Lily Horn Is Born stems from the combination of a well-blended powerful ensemble with four highly individualistic styles of improvisation.
Lily Horn is born regularly performs in jazz clubs, at private celebratory events, and on tours throughout Switzerland and surrounding countries.

Performers: The four female members of Lily Horn is born saxophone quartet are or were students of the jazz schools of Basel, Bern, and Lucern, majoring in saxophone/composition. They have founded and perform regularly with Lily Horn Is Born and also pursue a variety of individual musical project.



Patricia Leidig, a German-born singer based in Spain, is the head of the group.

She started playing music when she was 3 and a half years old.
At the age of 6 she entered the JOC-development-program of Yamaha for young talents in Germany and within 10 years of seminars and intensive music courses she participated in many Yamaha JOC-Concerts, especially in Japan in the year 1987 when she was 11 years old.

Her professional career started with the project named "Confidential", under which she brought out various songs to the market. In addition she produced numerous soundtracks for television and movies

Later on, the influence of Chill-out music and the involvement of Pedro Toro into the project gave birth to Almadrava.
Combining classic instruments with synthesizers, tradition with modernity, the beautiful with the strange, Almadrava brings the listener to a "Chill out" world, where every single song is important... on the basis of the purest Ibiza sound.

The first Single of Almadrava "Time to forget it" reached the position 32 in Spanish charts this summer. The album will be released in January 2002.



Although we have to regret the withdrawal of Kirby Chambliss (USA) and Jurgis Kairys (LIT) for technical reasons - they damaged their aircraft in the last few days and no spares are available - the 2001 Nippon Grand Prix will certainly feature the best aerobatic pilots in the world at this point in time.

All the current World Aerobatic Champions (they won their titles at Burgos, Spain, in June 2001) will participate, eager to win a Grand Prix title:

  • Mikhail Mamistov 2001 Overall World Aerobatic Champion.
  • Klaus Schrodt, 2001 Freestyle World Aerobatic Champion.
  • Svetlana Kapanina, 2001 Female World Aerobatic Champion and Freestyle World Vice-Champion. (male+female). Svetlana is the only pilot to have ever won three World titles (1996, 1998, 2001).

With their new titles, these champions will have to challenge the "Master" Peter Besenyei who already won twice at Motegi in three Grand Prix, Victor Tchmal, (World Champion in 1996) and the "Golden Wings" Nikolay Timofeev who won many golden medals before he made a pause this year to establish himself and his family in USA.

But all specialists are aware that, ready to jump on the highest seat of the podium, stand Svetlana Fedorenko, the current European Champion and 2001 Vice-World Champion, as well as Sergey Rakhmanin and Alexander Krotov, brilliant performers of the National Aerobatic Team of Russia.

Only 4 solo pilots won a Grand Prix leg in 16 editions since 1996: Besenyei, Kairys, Roland, Timofeev.

Formation teams
The Golden Dreams, although ready to compete, had to be cancelled for administrative reasons, but they will try again next year, that's for sure!
Of course Sukhoi Duo will defend their title obtained in 2000 and everyone will be pleased to see the return of Sky Box at Motegi. They will fly under the name of Flying Bulls (in relation to the name of their sponsor), but they will have a few other surprises to present to the Japanese audience.

Will the 2001 Nippon Grand Prix be the last display of the Sky Box Aerobatic Team? Visit us again soon, we will bring you a few interesting news.
And if you are in Japan, welcome to the competition and the show, the 2001 vintage will be something definitely different to what you already saw. Don't miss it! 



The Flying Bulls aerobatic team (formerly known as SkyBox) will perform at Motegi their last international public display with Jiri Tlusty as the leader.

Indeed Jiri decided to retire after 41 years of leadership (certainly a world record!) of a team that he created in 1960.
Jiri's first international airshow with Sky Box took place in Wales in 1963 and he says that he will end next weekend his international career as a formation team leader, bringing the total of his airshow performances to 3000!
At the age of 66, that's unique in the aviation history. Congratulations, Jiri Tlusty! .

He selected Japan and the Motegi Grand Prix to say goodbye to the international scene as a tribute to the faith, the enthusiasm, and the technical expertise of the Japanese audience.

This year the Flying Bulls will compete with the British team Sukhoi Duo (defending their 2000 title) for the 2001 Grand Prix Champion title. 

01 November – Official Rehearsal Day!

The aircraft were re-assembled without any problem, the runway was extended by 50 meters and we were ready for the official rehearsal day.

The qualification flights will take place tomorrow and of course we will put the results on line as soon as possible.
So good luck to all the pilots!

This afternoon was the opportunity to rehearse the air theatre performance "Aeroplane", which will be presented for the very first time to the public tomorrow afternoon.

This ballet, whose forms were first dreamt of, then captured in words, took its first energy today. It is not only to show the excellence of a pilot or a formation team, but also to go beyond the individual performance.
Offering the aerobatic pilots the role of actors, we give to the machines the power to tell a story, together.
Therefore, for this adventure, it seemed necessary to open our great imaginary book at the first page, the one that says how a little boy and a small wooden plane, united by the magic of dreams, attracted a dozen airplane-poets.

Aeroplane is simply a genesis, expressed like a tale, with music and illustrations projected on a giant screen, like in a fairy tale book.
All the keys are there to drive the spectator to see the flight like a poem that goes beyond its pilot.
We will soon know if the public is willing to go on this trip with us... 



The qualification flights took place this morning under a radiant sun and as promised, here are the results:

2. TIMOFEEV Nikolay
3. SCHRODT Klaus
4. FED0RENKO Svetlana
5. KROTOV Alexander
6. MAMISTOV Mikhail
7. KAPANINA Svetlana
8. TCHMAL Viktor

Formation Teams

It is important to precise that the pilots Kapanina, Tchmal and Mamistov were penalised because of a technical problem with the smoke system. 



We were very lucky today to have sunshine in the morning, a few clouds in the afternoon and the first drop of rain right after the end of the show!

The competition flights took place this morning and the results are as follows:

1. BESENYEI Peter (10'154)
2. SCHRODT Klaus (9'971)
3. TIMOFEEV Nikolay (9'852)
4. MAMISTOV Mikhail (9'741)
5. KAPANINA Svetlana (9'737)
6. FED0RENKO Svetlana (9'679)
7. RAKHMANIN Sergey (9'604)
8. KROTOV Alexander (9'535)
9. TCHMAL Viktor (9'093)

Only the top 3 pilots will compete in tomorrow’s super final.

Formation Teams
1. FLYING BULLS (9'700 pts)
2. SUKHOI DUO (9'666 pts)

A tight competition - only 34 pts separating the two teams!














Twin Ring Motegi, Japan





02 - 04 November 2001
















Category: Solo Pilots & Formation Teams











FINAL RANKING after Super Final 04 November

Solo Pilots













Extra 300S







Extra 300S







Sukhoi 26


Formation Teams






Zlin 50LX







Sukhoi 26


Aircraft Manufacturer





























Results Saturday 03 November













Solo Pilots






Extra 300S







Extra 300S







Sukhoi 26







Sukhoi 31







Sukhoi 31







Sukhoi 26







Sukhoi 26



KROTOV Alexandre




Sukhoi 26



CHMAL Viktor




Sukhoi 31


Formation Teams






Zlin 50LX







Sukhoi 26




The on site audience reached a record total of 53,000 for the 16th Grand Prix, which was the 4th edition at Motegi.

Two novelties were displayed, the Super Final for the competition and the Futuristic Air Theatre for the Haute Voltige Performances.
The Super Final formula between the top three pilots of the competition was experienced with a great success and it will be applied next year (qualification on Friday, competition on Saturday and Super Final on Sunday).

A milestone of the Futuristic Air Theatre concept has been very successfully established in the last three days.
There is no doubt that Haute Voltige Performances have now reached a level that will be copied by many airshows and will hopefully develop original creations in all aspects linked to aerial entertainment. 


The 2001 FAI Nippon Grand Prix
Twin Ring Motegi, Japan
Haute Voltige - beyond Aerobatics
Riding a high-powered aircraft through a series of intricate manoeuvres, flying on the outer edge of what aviators respect as their "performance envelopes"; men and machines withstanding maximum forces in the most varied trajectories - up, down and in arcs … That's Aerobatics!

But fighting the "Spirit of Gravity" (Friedrich Nietzsche, "Thus Spoke Zarathustra") is surely beyond drawing figures in the sky with mathematical rigor and precision alone.
"One does not fly into flying," teaches Zarathustra, "he who wishes one day to fly, must first learn … dancing!"

During the FAI Grand Prix at the Motegi Twin Ring, a temple to Japan's "mobility culture", flying aerobatics is elevated to an artful expression of piloting skills, and to the perfect harmony between musical and visual elements. That's Haute Voltige!

The world's most outstanding pilots add another dimension to their defiance of gravity: Peter Besenyei (HUN)-, Mikhail Mamistov (RUS), Svetlana Kapanina (RUS) and Klaus Schrodt (GER), the 2001 World Aerobatic Champions, and a dozen of their peers including the British "Sukhoi Duo" and the Czech "Flying Bulls" formation teams put on the most extraordinary performances, combining aerial virtuosity with stunning choreography.

"Haute Voltige as dance, as a creative medium with infused soul, not as a replacement for the existing form of technical perfection, but as an enhancement for those pilots who fly the highest levels of competition." That's how Russian champion Nikolay Timofeev describes the Grand Prix flights performed by the very best in a cockpit to the music of Tchaikovsky, Strauss, Pink Floyd and others.

This 52' program puts television audiences worldwide in a front-row seat at the Motegi circuit, allowing them to enjoy the perfect blend between sports and arts, letting them - together with over 50'000 in the grandstands - take in sights, sounds and atmosphere of performances as unique and personal as those by the most inspired figure skaters to whom ice was playing field, stage and canvas.
Each pilot, by selecting his or her own music, sets the mood for four minutes of flying the most demanding figures of their creation - genuine combinations of knife edge spins, cobras, corkscrews or Kairys wheels - painting the sky with a trail of white smoke.

All the pilots in this programme excel in aerial ballet. They may not be able to win their fights against the physical "Spirit of Gravity" but they will give you the opportunity to take off with "Aeroplane", a new performance of the Futuristic Air Theatre, a story flown to the creative live music arranged by Lily Horn, a very unique feminine sax quartet from Switzerland, or by Almadrava, a composer-singer from Spain.

That's Haute Voltige, far beyond the traditional fights of aerobatic champions striving to impress judges or a public audience...

The FAI World Grand Prix - Haute Voltige, flying beyond aerobatics.
Event: FAI Nippon Grand Prix, Twin Ring Motegi (Japan)
Dates: 02/11/01 - 04/11/01
Title: The 2001 FAI World Grand Prix - Haute Voltige
Comprehensive coverage on the 2001 FAI World Grand Prix - flights, performances, pilots' profiles.
52' event highlights. TC script in English, Spanish, French and German.
Available to TV: 30/11/01



A live TV talk show about the FAI World Grand Prix and the Haute Voltige Air Theater will be produced and broadcast by the Swiss TV on 17th December 2001. It will be broadcast again internationally one week later.
Name of the programme: Zig Zag Cafe
Broadcast live by TSR 1 on 17.12.2001 between 13:00 and 14:00 pm. Broadcast on 24.12 by TV5 (international network in French language).
Time depending on countries, please refer to your TV programmes.



Further to its success on the Swiss TV, the Zig Zag Café programme regarding Haute Voltige in Japan and the FAI World Grand Prix will finally be broadcast on TV5, 7th January 2002 instead of 24th December.
TV5 is covering 5 continents including Asia and Northern America (especially Canada).




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