Aerobatic F3N Model Helicopter contest hots up
It's a tight race for first in the F3N Helicopter Freestyle/Music Style competition, as the field of nine aeromodellers battle it out with aerobatic manoeuvres that fling their 700mm rotor-span model helicopters around in the air.
The championship is made up of two freestyle rounds and three rounds set to music.
World Champion Eric Weber flying his Align 700 is leading the field after two rounds. His main rival Huan-Chen (Kenny) Ko, who he narrowly beat at the last World Championship in July, followed Weber on to the field to perform to music this afternoon.
Both put in compelling performances, including pirouettes - the hardest moves to perform cleanly. The aim was to synchronise their moves with the music they'd chosen, and while Ko seemed to please the crowds, it was Weber who won the judges' approval, maintaining his lead.
"This is the difference between flying to music, and flying with music in the background," said one of the spectators, wowed by the show.
Last to perform was well-respected Italian pilot Luca Pescante, here with his father Teo as a supporter.
Unlike most teams, who have brought one spare aircraft, the Italians have brought three models, each worth €1,500, to the competition.
"There's a lot of force on them. Ten kilowatts of power going through the system, so it really stresses the model and they can break," Pescante said. One of his spares is already in need of repair.
The Italian loves the music round, and his passion and sparkle showed through in his routine, combining deft skill on the joysticks with humour in his choice of music and corresponding cheeky flips.
In the end, it was enough to boost him into second place, disappointing 18-year-old Ko, who'd felt confident about his flight just moments before.
All the contestants had to contend with a stiff breeze at the Sky Dubai Palm Dropzone, the venue for the competition.
Speaking after his flight, 26-year-old Weber shared the secret of his success. "Precision is the most important. When you fly to music, you have to hit the marks on the rhythm. It's hard with this strong wind."
By Andy Pag
Photos: James Pagram / FAI Media Team
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