A LOCAL stunt pilot is currently testing his mettle as he represents Great Britain this week at the European Advanced Aerobatic Championships in Slovakia.
David Thomson, who lives near Frome, is part of a four man team currently performing adrenalin-fuelled aerial stunts including loops, rolls, flicks, spins and tumbles in front of crowds of spectators as well as a panel of international aerobatic judges at the prestigious competition. The EAAC began last weekend and will end on Sunday 21st August.
Frome Times caught up with David shortly after his qualifying flight, which determines the sequence that pilots will fly in the competition for the rest of the week. He said, “Apart from the birth of my kids, this has been the best experience of my life, even though we are flying in 38°C weather!
“We will fly in 24th position, which is not too bad, it gives us the opportunity to suss out the other teams.
“It’s hard to describe the actual flight. The qualifying sequence is only four or five minutes long, but there is so much to do in so little time.
“We are flying to the limits of the aircraft as well as to our own physical and mental limits. With speeds in excess of 230mph and G forces reaching 10 times our own body weight, it is a tough environment in which to fly highly complex figures. Aerobatics requires delicate precision and split-second reactions on the controls.”
But it seems that all this daredevil action can be strangely therapeutic. David said, “There is a sense of freedom that I don’t think you can get from any other sport. Being able to swoop down and then zoom up into the air like a bird is an incredible feeling. Aeroplanes are my lifelong passion. As a kid, I used to build and fly radio controlled models and now I am flying the real thing!”
Over 80 pilots from 16 nations are currently competing at the championships, including members of the French, Russian and Czech Republic air forces. But, unlike the state-sponsored teams, Team GBR is made up of civilian pilots who fund their flying themselves. David added, “Having the support of Mazda and the British Aerobatic Association is vital to us. I am extremely proud to be part of such a strong team and we are confident that we will be in the medals.”
David, who lives in Mells, runs branding and communications agency The Space Creative with his wife Nina. For more information visit aerobaticteamgbr. blogspot.com or tel: 0845 643 9738 / 07768 220378 – www. thespacecreative.com