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Hellenic F-16 Zeus
Florennes Airshow
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European Airshow Convention 2011
The European Airshow Council was established more then 10 years ago to promote excellence and safety at airshows. Every year they organise the European Airshow Convention (EAC) which brings together everyone involved in airshow scene. The main objective is to exchange ideas and promote safety and professionalism. The 2012 edition of the Convention took place in the Husa President hotel in Brussels from February 23-25th. The attendance was once again a big success with around 40 newcomers to last-years edition. The EAC board members put on an excellent program of interesting lectures and stories.
The convention was opened on Thursday evening with a reception kindly provided by some of the Belgian airshow representatives, including our Aviation PhotoCrew! It was the ideal place and time to meet each other again and learn to know the new people. The organisation also provided a large exhibition area which provides room for publicity material and public relations requirements. The large room was filled with promotional stand, well decorated with all kind of posters and brochures. This formed the ideal location for the coffee brakes between the lectures and the lunch and dinner.

On Friday morning it was time for the official opening of the convention with an introduction by chairman Gilbert Buekenberghs. After a short introduction of the participating delegates it was time for the first lectures of the convention.

Roger Beazley opened the convention with a opinion about the balance between flying display regulation and supervision. A very interesting perspective of Challenges facing operations of warbirds and vintage aircraft in the coming years, given by Tom Damm of Denmark. The vintage aircraft owners and operator will experience more difficulties in finding for example the right qualified technicians and pilots who fly them. The aircraft fuels will also change, will the piston engines still have good fuel to run on, in the future?

Des Barker of South Africa is an expert in the field of safety in aviation. He put on an excellent lecture about the Real World safety challenges and threats to Airshows. An overview of the incidents and accidents at aviation events of the past year were given and analysed.

The first ‘lessons learnt’ speaker was Mikael Carlson, a passionate vintage aircraft owner and pilot. He talked about his experience he had at the 2011 Duxford airshow, where he had a landing incident after his display in his Fokker DR.1 Triplane. He explained the problems he experienced and the challenges airshow organisers have to take in mind when such fragile vintage aircraft participate the flying display.

The Mayday Foundation was new to many of the delegates, and so Dr. Gerhard Fahnenbruck, Germany, introduces the importance of the foundation for the airshow scene. The purpose of this charitable organization is to support aviators and their families through times of crisis. The Mayday Foundation maintains a network of qualified psychologists and colleagues who have themselves suffered similar experiences to give support after critical or highly stressful incidents and/or accidents.

A very interesting factor to this years convention were the lectures about flying experimental aircraft at airshows. Dr. Dieter Reisinger of the European Society of Experimental Test Pilots Safety Seminar, talked about Risks associated with Airshow flying and Prototype Demonstrations. This was followed by Eurofighter test and demonstration pilot Chris Worning who talked about his experiences with demonstrating company aircraft at trade shows.

Flying aerial demonstrations in helicopters needs special knowledge of handling the machine. Andrew Warner, Eurocopter demonstration pilot, talked about his experiences of demonstrating the Eurocopter X3 at tradeshows. A very interesting lecture was given of what to do, and not to do when performing aerobatics in helicopters.

During the afternoong a panel & delegate participation workshop was held, where some accidents case studies were analysed and the lessons to be learnt identified.

The Bugatti 100P is one of the most beautiful aircraft ever made, but unfortunately it never flew. The American engineer, Scotty Wilson and his team are going to change that and they have been busy building an exact replica of the original aircraft design. He gave the delegates a very nice overview of the project they have been working on and he hopes to bring this unique aircraft to the skies. This summer we might be able see the aircraft appear in Europe on static displays, and they hope to fly the aircraft in 2013 and bring it over to Europe.

A special tribute to Franc Borin of the Italian Pioneer Team was made, who unfortunately passed away only weeks before the convention. His fellow friend and teammember Corrado Rusalen payed an emotional tribute of memories. Franc has always been a very enthusiastic pilot and friend and he will be missed, Ciau Franc!

In the evening, it was time for the famous EAC dinner which was held in the exhibition room. It was time for everyone to extend their network and learn to know new people. After a very delicious meal it was time for handing out the awards. As an honour for his lifelong contribution to the airshow community worldwide, Ian Sheeley was awarded the Chairman’s special achievement award 2012. The most prestigious award went to Elly Sallingboe of the Sally B. She went home with the Jock Maitland Sword for her outstanding long term contribution to the airshow community.

Every year the EAC hosts a competition for outstanding photography, poster and publicity materials. The first price for best publicity for airshow display performers went to Miss Pick-Up Catalina, closely followed by the Breitling Jet Team. The first price for the airshow organisers went to Waddington Airshow, followed by ILA Berlin and the Royal International Air Tattoo. The Flamish prime minister Kris Peeters also offered an award which went to Bob Dixon for his great work he did to organise this unique convention.

On Saturday morning the delegates were given a very interesting lecture by the RNLAF Director of Operations, Air Commodore Paul Mulder. He talked about the influence of defence cuts on the RNLAF demonstrations teams and the RNLAF open days. Many Air Forces nowadays face the same problems with the ever shrinking defence budgets, and Mr. Mulder opened the dialogue for more international cooperation for demonstration teams and airshows.

Hellenic Air Force F-16 display pilot Manolis Karachalios also gave an interesting lecture about the way he became the first Greek solo display pilot. He told the story of how the created the flying display act from the simulator through practice displays and the lessons he learn while doing so.

In 2011 the USAF Thunderbirds made a European Tour, and hereby visiting Finland for the first time. Perttu Karivalo, organiser of the Turku Airshow told his experience he had working with the US Aerobatic Team. The way of working is very different to most European display teams, and he had a lot of challenges to overcome in making it possible for the Thunderbirds to perform at his show.

Flying an amphibious aircraft is for many people something unknown. Tom Schrade from the USA, owns and flies a very special flying boat, the Sikorsky S-38 flying yacht. He told about the rich history of the aircraft type, which was built in the 1930’s, and about the African expeditions Osa’s Ark made. He rebuild the aircraft with some original parts to flying conditions, and after visiting some airshows in the USA, he flew over to Europe in 2010. Since then he has been visiting multiple events throughout Europe, and he would like to fly it around the world in the near future.

To conclude the lectures, Roger Beazley and Ian Sheeley talked about the recently created organisation, BADA the British Air Display Association. The organisation is encouraging, promoting and advancing safety and standards in British air displays. They talked about their experiences and the benefits of creating a national display organisation.

Around noon on Saturday the 2012 edition of the European Airshow Convention came to an end, and chairman Gilbert Buekenberghs closed off with thanking everyone for their participation and all the volunteers who made this edition a great success. Hereby we would also like to thank everyone for their great work and we are already looking forward to the 2013 edition. We kindly invite you to visit www.european-airshow.com for more information and registration.


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