13 Aug 2021

Flying high: Bulgaria's Kristina Ivanova is the 2021 CIAM scholarship winner

A high-flyer in her academic life as well as in aeromodelling, Kristina Ivanova of Bulgaria has won the 2021 Aeromodelling Scholarship of the FAI Aeromodelling Commission (CIAM), with a prize of €2000 and Spirit of Flight diploma.

Like many young aeromodellers, she inherited her passion from a family member, her father, who is also her trainer and has seen her go from success to success in national junior championships, as well as at European and International level, and in 2019 gaining a 2nd place in the 2019 FAI Free Flight World Cup F1B-Junior. Although she is no longer a junior competitor, her aims are still set high: to “be part of the Bulgaria National F/B Team”.

Thanks to the more lenient Covid restrictions in Bulgaria, this year Kristina has already participated in several competitions: “The most recent one was the National Championship for Free Flight models where I won 2nd place in class F1B (Wakefields). Hopefully, later this year I will be able to take part in some FF World Cups abroad as well. The F1B (Wakefield) models I'm currently flying with at competitions are made by Igor Vivchar (Ukraine) and the F1H (Glider) models are entirely made in our workshop.”

CIAM scholarship winner 2021
Kristina launches her F1B model in a National Competition

Kristina’s natural aptitude for technical understanding and her experience of travelling for competitions not only serves her hobby but also her career. She is set to study biomedical engineering, starting a university course in Bulgaria in 2021 then hopefully continuing her studies abroad in the future. Supported by her many friends in aeromodelling who have become “a second family”, no doubt Kristina will continue to flourish both academically and in aeromodelling outside of her studies.

How did you start aeromodelling, and what do you find interesting/fun about it?
Well, aeromodelling has always been part of my life thanks to my father who has been practicing this sport in his teenage years. I grew up with his stories about training and competitions and through them, he managed to spark my interest in this hobby. However, it was not until May 2012 when I had the chance to acquire first-hand experience by taking part in my first Aeromodelling competition and became certain that this is the sport I want to practice. What I like the most about it is that it’s one of the few sports that give you the opportunity to develop both your mathematical/technical knowledge and your physical abilities.

Have you managed to keep training during Covid?
Yes, I did! I can even say that Covid had a positive influence on my training as due to the lockdowns I had plenty of free time which I spent on the training field. This not only improved the performance of my flights, but also helped me stay in good mental and physical health.

You have been in so many competitions, both at national and international level, how do you find time to fit in your studies?
Well, I think that the self-discipline that I built thanks to the sport made it much easier for me to find the balance between taking part in competitions and doing well at school. Another key factor that made it easy was my teachers who had always shown understanding towards the engagements I have as a competitor.  However, several times I had to study for my exams in some quite unusual places – on the flying field while waiting for the start of the next round and on the state border while waiting to cross it!

What would you like to say to any young females who are just beginning in aeromodelling?
I would tell them something that my father, who is also my trainer, told me when I started doing Aeromodelling – “There are no “male” and “female” sports – if you have the desire to practice this sport just do it.”. Said with other words, do not pay attention to those who will underestimate you and who will try to convince you that you won’t perform well just because you practice a sport that is commonly considered to be a “male sport”. Gender does not matter as long as what you do brings you joy and a sense of accomplishment.

Are there many other females competing at national and international levels? Is there anything that organisers and clubs could do to get more girls to become interested in aeromodelling?
Hmm, there have always been female aeromodellers, but when I started competing there weren’t as many other girls as they are now… Neither in Bulgaria, nor abroad, I think.  

I don’t think that there is something that can be done to make the sport more appealing to girls particularly, instead I think we should focus on popularising it among everyone by showing the educational and physical benefits of practicing a more technical sport.

Finally, how are you going to use the scholarship funding?
The scholarship gives me a great opportunity to renew the technical equipment I use for my studies for example my laptop and my printer.

The FAI and CIAM wish Kristina many successes in her career and her aeromodelling.