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A great start to the season for Melanie

We checked in with Melanie 3 months after our last newsletter. First of all, there was the first race of the Red Bull Air Race season in Abu Dhabi.

Melanie, Abu Dhabi ... first race of the season...tell us about it.

The first race of the season is always important, it's a test for us who haven't flown on a circuit for a long time. As far as I am concerned, I haven't flown on a circuit for 6 months. So I was extremely motivated and happy to start competing again. The training went well, both in practice and in qualifying. The conditions were ideal for the race. The level of the challengers is very high, but the team spirit is very present, despite the competition. This season sees the arrival of three new members to the Challengers team. Whether it was in practice or qualifying, I approached the track with a lot of respect and used a progressive method. I saved everything else for the race and there I gave it my all.

And so, satisfied in practice and in qualifying... tell us about the race

I flew third out of 6, which is fine with me. My first lap was going very well, with good lead-in speed, the green signal, but I went over the 10 Gs allowed between gates 6 and 7, which earned me a second penalty. But even with the penalty, I still had a ½ second lead, and made up ground on the second lap, giving me first place at that point. Without the penalty, I would have had a sensational time. I knew it would put pressure on Florian Berger, our "target" because he is always the fastest! I know I have to improve the speed to beat him. I would like to be able to fly after him in the next races. Anyway, I am satisfied with my second place. This is my first podium since October 2017, my first place in Indianapolis. I think I have shown that I am in the race. Abu Dhabi was a great launch to this season. My next Red Bull Air Race is June 15-16 in Kazan, Russia.

A very good start to the season! And since Abu Dhabi, what have you done?

Training, training and more training in preparation for my upcoming aerobatic competitions and races this year, as well as managing my company AirMel. Most weekends I train in Le Castellet or Valréas, with my coach Pierre Varloteaux, who is happy with my progress. I fly much better than last year and Pierre has been the trigger that helps me manage my precision and concentration. It's great to feel that I'm doing things right and that I'm improving.

You have also participated in events. Can you tell us about them?

On March 2nd, I was invited by 3y Technology in Le Castellet to live another dream of mine, driving a race car. A big thank you to them for giving me the opportunity to drive the super BMW M4 GT4. After a session on the 3y simulator, I had the great pleasure to drive the GT4 on the circuit, with my friend Philippe Chatelet. What a chance to benefit from the competence of such a talented coach. Thank you for the trust. I know now that maybe one day I could realize my secret dream of a car race.

On March 28, along with other athletes, I was invited by Boris Derichebourg, president of the Derichebourg Group, to an event in Paris. It was an evening of presentation and networking, giving us the opportunity to meet leaders of large companies and corporations.

You have also been invited by an Internet TV channel and also another local event... what is it about?

As you know, I've been living in the Alpilles for more than 2 years, and it's a region I love, and where I'll probably settle down for good. Recently, an Internet TV channel Alpilles TV was created, and I am flattered that they thought of me to be their godmother for their launch on March 22nd in Saint Rémy de Provence.

Also in March, I was invited by the association Marseille Plus, for an award ceremony for me and other influential people in Marseille and its surroundings. I am very honored to have been named ambassador of the city of Marseille.

I heard you had some health issues in April... how did that affect you?

That's right, I couldn't train or fly for a while due to health reasons. As a result, unfortunately in April, I was not able to go to the selection competition for a place in the French aerobatic team, which will participate in the Unlimited Aerobatic World Championship in Chateauroux in August. And so, unfortunately, I am not selected to fly for France.

Back to the good news, I believe you have a new partner in your team. Is that right?

I am pleased to introduce a new partner to my team, who will help me continue to live my dream: Farman by Galilé. Thank you for your trust and vision, which help me believe in my potential and boost my confidence.

We have also noticed some changes on your Extra 330SC aircraft.

Yes, I have been working on a new design for my plane and it is with a big smile that I was able to reveal the new livery of my Extra 330, featuring my loyal supporters ESAF, ATM, BMW and my new sponsors Michelin, PIMA Air & Space Museum, Alsimflight and Farman by Galilé.

I officially presented my "new" plane during a BMW event in Nevers Magny-Cours, the first MTown Festival on April 27 and 28. Despite the bad weather, I was able to make two demonstration flights to show the new livery. I want to thank Aircrafstudiodesign and Design Covering for their great work.

So as summer approaches, is it still Smile On for you?

Absolutely, lots of news and projects to come.

2019 is going to be a great year for my team and I... so it's sure to be a great...

Smoke on... smile on!



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