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environmentally conscience, low powered aircraft future of aerobatics, says top judge.

Global environmental pressures will shape the development of aerobatics as more teams worldwide switch to fuel efficient, low powered aircraft, says one of the sport's top judges.

Speaking from the Al Ain International Aerobatics Championship - which concluded yesterday (Sunday) after four days of breathtaking flying displays and fierce competition - South Africa's Quinton Hawthorne, the event's Chief Judge, said that as fuel costs rise and the aerobatics community becomes more environmentally aware, many pilots will switch their current aircraft for more efficient flying machines.

"The overall global trend, which is currently a hot topic for the aviation industry, is putting pressures on pilots and teams to look at ways of reducing their carbon footprints. As we go forward, we will see them using more fuel efficient, lower powered machines for their displays," said Hawthorne.

However, he believes that this shift will not affect the intensity and scope of displays pilots will be able to achieve. Quite the contrary, Hawthorne said the future of the sport is extremely promising.

"Spectators in Al Ain have already seen how these low powered machines can perform. Italy's Pioneer Team, which has demonstrated some unique and stunning formations this week, already uses this type of aircraft and they are one of the world's leading crowd pleasers," added Hawthorne.

Currently flying the Pioneer 300 Hawk, the four man Pioneer Team, which made their regional debut this week, demonstrate the precision and elegance of flight in what has been described as 'a synchronised dance in the open sky'.

And the Pioneer 300 Hawk, which are categorised as 'microlights', use a rotary engine capable of 100hp, considerably less than many aerobatic aircraft, but more than enough to hit top performance speeds of 250km/h needed to pull off the their death defying moves.

The Pioneer Team's display routine was conceived by a crack-group of pilots and flight instructors and developed with the assistance of former jet pilots from the "Frecce Tricolori" - the Italian National Jet Formation Team. These formidable pilots trained the Pioneer team, giving them an understanding of flying in formation and the essence of "team spirit".

The Al Ain International Aerobatics Championship - which is being held under the patronage of HH General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces - had its strongest display line-up to date and attracted over 110 aircraft.

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Date:Jan 27, 2008
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