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Pioneering New Zealand Air Games Underway

Pioneering Air Games Underway

Lake Wanaka, New Zealand - Today's opening ceremony of the New Zealand Air Games was marked by a prestigious award to Queenstown pilot, Richard Hayes, and praise from FAI president, Pierre Portmann.

Mr Portmann, who has flown in from France for the event, recognised that no other country has ever organised a national air games on this scale before and the FAI saw the Air Games as being the precursor of a series of multi air sport events that will become popular with TV viewers and Internet users world wide.

"For the first time, a potential audience of hundreds of millions of people around the world will have an opportunity to watch news and coverage of air sports competitions on TV and Internet," he said. "...Events like this will help [the FAI] ensure that we continue to develop and grow... New Zealand is a very special place. Unlike Europe, it still has uncrowded air space. The media opportunity presented by the New Zealand Air Games should allow the various disciplines to have a stronger voice in protecting access to air space for sport and recreation on a global basis."

Richard Hayes of Queenstown became the first New Zealander to win the FAI Diploma for Outstanding Airmanship for his bravery in fighting a large bushfire near Queenstown. Only one of these awards is handed out annually and Mr Hayes was handed the award personally by Mr Portmann as part of the evening's proceedings.

The New Zealand Air Games opens to the public tomorrow (Wednesday) for a two day aerial extravaganza. It features 10 sports ranging from paragliding to sky diving, helicopters to hot air ballooning, with many of the sports reformatted for high adrenalin viewing.

Tickets are $18 for adults with free admission for children under 16 and are on the gate.

For those unable to attend the event in person, they can sign up to watch all the action through Air Sports Live at free of charge on the low resolution service or can pay a small cost (US$6.99) to enjoy the coverage at full resolution with the ability to revisit and enjoy the highlights. Subscription discounts apply to multi-day full resolution packages.

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