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Record Numbers Take To Sky In World Championships

Record Numbers Take To The Sky In World Championships

OMARAMA, New Zealand (December 7, 2007) – For the first time in gliding grand prix history 18 gliders will race head-to-head, during the six-day FAI World GP Gliding Championship that starts on 19 December.

Likened to Formula One in the sky, the elite line-up of international pilots will demonstrate the skill and daring of competitive gliding. Spectators on the ground – or via the live streaming on the internet - will experience the thrill of the world’s fastest free-flying aircraft racing head-to-head at speeds of up to 300kph, at times just metres above the ground.

Omarama is an ideal destination to stage the Grand Prix due to its uncluttered air space and very little commercial air traffic passing through. Combined with the great scenery and settled weather conditions in summer, pilots will push themselves and their gliders to the limits.

“There are relatively few places in the world where you have the freedom in the sky for multiple gliders to race; this is quite unique with air travel becoming more popular. This allows for more challenging courses to be set and really test the pilots’ abilities. There will definitely be some nail biting action on display for all spectators,” commented Bob Henderson, president of the International Gliding Commission.

The courses will be between 100-300 kms and up to two hours long taking in up to six turn points before returning to the Omarama Airfield. The turn points are imaginary cylinders, 1km in diameter fixed by latitude and longitude. The pilots have to enter each cylinder so their sealed GPS flight logger records at least one mark inside the cylinder to prove they were there. mountain soaring school is the principal sponsor of the event, and instrumental in staging the area’s most exciting sporting event this summer with managing director, Gavin Wills, setting the daily tasks.

Gavin Wills is delighted to help bring the world's top glider pilots to race at Omarama, “It will hopefully encourage more pilots to visit New Zealand and cement Omarama's reputation as one of the top mountain soaring sites in the world," he said. Wills is also part of the expert commentary team that also features current women’s world gliding champion, Gill Spreckley.

Commentary and real-time graphics footage are available on each day of the championships. On finals day, 24 December, full broadcast featuring in-cockpit mini-cams and air-to-air footage using the latest TV filming technologies will be available.

The FAI World GP Gliding Championships features 18 of the world’s top pilots, including world number one, Sebastian Kawa (POL), from 11 countries. The six days of intense, high speed competition will take place in Omarama, New Zealand from 19-24 December 2007. For further information, visit

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