Acro Show 2018 Proves Air Sports Are Here to StayAugust 30, 2018 4:39 pm
This week, On the shores of Lake Geneva, Switzerland, tens of thousands of spectators converged to witness an epic air sports event, Acro Show 2018 (Also known as the Sonchaux Acroshow). Skydivers were jumping out of paragliders, attached to a bungee cords which were attached to other paragliders, while F/A-18 jets buzzed the huge crowds nearby. Stop! Read that last sentence again. That’s just a sample of the 3 day air romp that went down in the town of Villeneuve, Switzerland. It’s an air show, stunt show, paragliding competition, and carnival all combined into one well-coordinated air sports event.
Here’s a short video promoting all this air sports festival has to offer.
ACRO WORLD TOUR 2018
At the center of the event are some serious acrobatic paragliding competitions, sponsored by the World Air Sports Federation. The Acro World Tour attracts the top acrobatic paraglider pilots from around the world. They compete in a tournament format, or “battle format” as they say in Europe, with competitors being eliminated at each stage. The tour started with qualifying rounds in Voss Norway, Molveno Italy, and Trasaghis Italy before reaching the finals in Villeneuve Switzerland.Watch Horatio LLorens in Action (4 Videos) >>>
Here’s a short video highlighting the acrobatic paragliding competition from 2017.
Air Stunts and More
In a carefully choreographed exhibition of talent and technology, spectators had people and aircraft dropping out of the sky from every direction. Using live-streaming helmet cams, the audience could watch on a big screen as the Flying Devils pulled freefall stunts with their supporting airplane nose diving just feet away. Wingsuit jumpers launched from nearby mountains and strafed the crowd. Acrobatic paragliders were all around splashing across the water-logged landing rafts. Spectators who booked tandem paraglider flights could get a birds eye view of all the action.
Not to be outdone, the Swiss Air Force made its presence known as it roared across the waterfront in it’s lightening-fast F/A-18 fighter jets. The fun didn’t stop in the evening. Looking like something out of a Tron movie, the Twister Aerobatics Team took to the skies at dusk to make sure the spectators were completely satisfied.
Air Sports Competitions Explained
Here is a brief breakdown of the World Air Sports Federation competition categories:
- XC Competition: Cross Country paragliding competitions involve a large group of pilots launching from a mountain and forming a swirling gaggle inside of a column of rising air (a thermal). At a predetermined time, the group flies towards turn point, or “task”, then makes a turn, and on to the next task as fast as possible. Points are scored for speed and total distance covered. GPS flight computers help all of this make sense to competition pilots and judges alike.
- Precision Landing Competition: This paragliding competition is as fun for the spectators as it is for the pilots. Usually performed over water, pilots swoop down and attempt to land on a small raft about the size of a boxing ring. The closer they land to the center mark the higher their score. Landings look like controlled crashes and often pilots wind up splashing into the water.
- Expression Session: This is where the aerial acrobatics come in. Pilots jump from helicopters and then try to pull as many high energy stunts as possible. They flip, spin, and twist in mind-boggling ways for points.
- Swoop Freestyle: This is a new experimental competition category. The open format allows skydivers, speedriders and paragliders to all compete against each other directly.
Air Sports in the United States
In Europe, Air sports pilots are as well known as Tiger Woods or LeBron James are in the United States. European air sports competitions attract crowds that are comparable to the Super Bowl or NBA Finals. The United States has relegated recreational pilots to remote hillsides far away from civilization and modern infrastructure. Even though groups like the United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association have done an excellent job educating, insuring, and equipping pilots with everything they need for safe flying, the competition scene just hasn’t taken off (no pun intended). With technology bringing safer flying equipment, reserve parachutes that open faster, and high tech flying computers, Isn’t it time for the U.S.A. to give air sports another look?
Air Sports Competition Links
- The 2018 Acro World Tour Champion: Horacio Llorens
- Acro World Tour 2018 final competition results
- The World Air Games Homepage
- The Acro Show Homepage
- Calendar of World Air Sports Federation Events
Here’s one more video of the Acro World Tour from a spectator’s perspective. Scroll down for more videos.