There were many special things about the EAAC 2015 that took place in Deva (Romania).
I am Italian , so obviously the first very special thing about the European Advanced Aerobatic Championship was that Matteo Barbato, a young and very talented Italian aerobatic pilot, won the first gold medal in a powered aerobatics championship for Italy. I had really hoped he would win a medal, and had actually booked my tickets to be in Deva during the award ceremony months before the championship even started. But to realise that my optimism was wise, to see him fulfill his dream, and to hear the Italian national anthem during the award ceremony, has really filled me with joy and pride. He was forth in the final ranking and that is the best placement an Italian pilot has ever had in an international powered aerobatic championship.
Matteo Barbato achieved this superb result alone, with no team, but only a great trainer, Tomaso Marzetti. It warmed my heart to see that Italian
pilots, even those who quit aerobatics a long time ago, were all supporting Matteo during the competition.
The next great thing about the championship was that- resultwise- it was not boring at all. For several years the pilots winning the competition also won most of the single flights as well. It was not the case at all this year. Every one of the flights was won by a different pilot, from a different nation. The first flight, the Known sequence, was won by the Romanian pilot Laslo Ferencz, The free program was won by a Russian pilot, Vladimir Kotelnikov. The first unknown was won by Matteo Barbato, the only pilot competing for Italy. And the second unknown was won by Eltonas Meleckis (Lithuania).
Romania, Russia, Italy and Lithuania. No France.
For the first time in a while, the French did quite well, as usual, but only (…) managed to win the overall best pilot (Jean-Max Vautier), and the best team, allowing the spectators to listen to other national anthoms during
the award ceremony as well.
The overall winner, the French pilot Jean-Max Vautier, was the only pilot competing with a CAP 231. This proves that a great pilot , in order to win, needs talent, practice and concentration; but not the most modern, nor the most powerful aircraft.
The CAP 231, with its wooden wing, put all the carbon fiber wings and the 330hp aricrafts behind. And of course there is a little bit of Italian pride behind this aircraft, that was built, together with Mudry, off Sergio Dallan’s CAP21DS (the silver chicken). Jean-Max Vautier also proved that the pilot who wins is the pilot who is able to keep a high level of performance throughout the entire competition, even when he does not win a medal in every program. He makes a great European Champion.
In all the championships I have been to as an observer,
it always amazes me how the French team is a great example of how team work should be.
As I was taking pictures of the pilots, I thought it was funny, but also beautiful, that I could always catch most of the French team in one shot.
They were together all the time, either laughing or walking or helping one another, as it should be in a team. Their winning as a team, besides their superiority in the piloting skills, is well deserved.
The championship allowed me to meet several talented pilots, some of whom did not win any medal this year, but will make themselves
be heard of for sure in the nearby future.
Wim Soens, a pilot from Belgium, had quite some bad luck this year. The CIVA-approved program that “randomly” determines the order of flights, picked him out as the starting pilot for 2 out of 4 programs, and it is a well recognized disadvantage.
He was 6th in the overall, proving his skills. With little better luck he will be able to achieve great results in the next competitions.
Competing for Monaco though Italian, Stefano Pastrovich, (known as
“Team Monaco”), only started flying powered aerobatics last year. He was able to achieve a startling 25th place overall. He seemed to link the Italian, French, Begium, Romania and Luxembourg teams with his good spirits, and to have (almost) everyone smile. After entertaining all pilots with the ground rehersals of his training flights, on Saturday Stefano flew his gorgeous grey ,red and bordeaux Extra 330 sc in his first super nice airshow display. His rate of improvement is astounding and he will for sure surprise us in the future.
The championship was closed on Saturday with a great airshow. We had the chance to see display flights by the competitors, besides Romanian army planes and helicopters, including 3 MIG 21 in formation and many other amazing performances. It was overall a wonderful experience.
The next aerobatics appointment is now in Czech Republic- from August 5-15- there will be the Glider World Aerobatic Championship, and then the powered World Aerobatic Championship in France. Stay tuned!