28 Jul 2023

Pilots and navigators ready for take-off at the 23rd FAI World Rally Flying Championship

Twenty-five planes representing 12 nations are revving their engines at the Mȃcon-Charnay aerodrome in France ready for the 23rd FAI World Rally Flying Championships. The well-known teams of Austria, Czech Republic, Poland, Lithuania and Slovakia will be joined by reigning champions South Africa, Germany, Spain and Portugal, with a warm welcome being extended to China and Italy. Host team France have put forward seven teams, of which one comprises both female pilot and navigator: Marjorie Perrissin-Fabert and Adèle Schamm.

Two-person teams participate in a two-stage competition. For the first part, FAI judges will mark the pilot and navigator for the ability to follow a given route in which they have to carefully plan their speed, making sure to pass each landmark from the photos provided. For the second part, judges are looking for a precision landing, with penalties given for touching down on either side of the centre line.

18th FAI World Rally Flying Championship 2014. Credit: Katarzyna Osowska

There are four days of competition beginning on 31 July after the opening ceremony, which is to be held on 29 July, with the briefing day on 30 July. The competition will consist of 4 navigation routes, one every day. The crew with the lowest final score after these four days will be crowned World Champion.

Last year’s champions in South Africa were the Polish duo Krzysztof and Kamil Wieczorek, with their team mates Michal Wieczorek and Marcin Kwiatosz claiming silver. The bronze medal was awarded to home team Nigel Hopkins and Mary de Klerk. The Polish team were overall champions, followed by the Czech team and France, so it will be exciting to watch the French team try to climb up the ladder on their home territory.

Audiences will be able to follow the progress of their favourite team on the large screen, with expert live commentary to enable the public to understand and appreciate the skills involved in Rally Flying.

Rally Flying 2014
Landing on the centre line. From 19th FAI World Rally Flying Championship Credit: Tadeusz Misiasek

The Closing Ceremony is scheduled for 4 Aug and the following day is an Open Day in which the public are invited to view aircraft such as TB30, T6, T28, MS733 Alcyon, MD312 Cessna L19, Auster 4, and try out flight simulators, among other activities.

Mȃcon-Charnay aerodrome is situated between Lyon and Beaune, and the Aeroclub du Mâconnais, who are hosting the event alongside the Aeronautical Federation of France, was formed in 1928, and nowadays has around 150 members.

23rd FAI World Rally Flying Championships

Header image: 18th FAI World Rally Flying Championship 2014. Credit: Katarzyna Osowska