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English Championship: I answer your questions

After my title of English Unlimited and Freestyle Champion last Saturday and with four days to go before the French Championship, I received a lot of questions about the competition. My coach Pierre Varloteaux and I have answered some of them.

Melanie, you seemed to fly through the first 3 flights. The last one, the Free Unknown, was more physical. Could you explain why?

Indeed, the last Free Unknown program was more physical because there were more tricks and in particular tricks called "complicated". These are posed by the pilots, the objective being to destabilize the opponents. It was very technical but my physical, mental and technical preparation allowed me to perform well until the end and to obtain an honorable result.

Melanie, you were complaining about small problems with your plane before the English championship, especially with the ailerons. Did these problems influence your performance?

The problems started after the new covering of my plane in April. This period was particularly difficult because I could not find my usual sensations anymore. One is overwhelmed by the doubt and the fear of not being able to fly as before. It took me more than twenty flights to finally succeed in fine-tuning the tiny details that make all the difference in competition.

We see you "doing the music" before each flight, could you explain us what it is and how important it is for the performance?

Making the music means mentally picturing the flight we are going to perform. If you see a pilot on the ground turning around and moving his arms in front of his plane, it is normal, he visualizes the movie before executing it. In one program, we can perform up to 60 rotations: turn, half turn, eighth turn... in less than a second. The more you know the choreography, the more you can concentrate on the details of the execution.

Some of the tricks you do look quite violent from the ground with rapid changes from positive G to negative G. How do you manage to stay focused and find your way in space?

Compared to the race (Red Bull Air Race), Elite aerobatics is even more physical. We have G variations that totally shake up the inside of the body. When you do a loop for example, you are alternately ejected and then pushed into the seat. Only the belt holds you back. Under 1G, we weigh our usual weight on this planet; under an acceleration of 2G, our apparent weight doubles. In aerobatics, you can take up to 10 Gs, so you can weigh up to 10 times your weight. It is therefore necessary to be extremely trained (and sheathed) to avoid the blackout: the blood drains from the brain downwards, the pilot sees grey, then black. A short loss of consciousness may follow if the acceleration increases. In this case, you have to release the effort on the stick to regain your senses.

The championship takes place over only 4 flights per participant. Could you explain the differences between each flight?

The championship takes place over four flights plus a fifth free style flight.

The first flight is the known free style: program composed of 10 figures, 5 of which are imposed by the jury at the beginning of the season and 5 figures of the pilot's choice, while respecting a maximum coefficient of 450 points. The goal is to build a program that will score points. The other flights are unknown programs: the pilots discover 10 figures that they must perform live in front of the judges.


In St. Pierre, Melanie obtained an average of 79.6% in the tests, including one flight above 83%. For our neophyte friends, is this a good average and how are the flights scored?

Depending on the competition, the scores vary between 78 and 82%. So that's an excellent average, yes. A program consists of between 10 and 14 figures, each scored on 10 points. The judges (between 7 and 10) start at 10 and lower the score according to the criteria established. The average gives the final result.

We have seen a clear progression this year in Melanie's flying, even at RBAR with her podium in Abu Dhabi. How do you see her participation in the French Championships next week and the World Championships in August?

Melanie has many assets to succeed. She has an excellent technique, very good physical abilities and a fighting spirit. But nothing is set in stone. She must continue to work until the end to arrive in the best possible conditions. Then, may the best win.



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