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World Aerobatic Championships: D-4

Updated: Mar 23, 2023

Let's check in with Melanie over the past three months - and a lot has happened!

Melanie, we remember health problems in April. Are you better and have you been able to resume your activities?

Yes, thank you, everything is fine. I have a lot of projects in mind, and having resumed training, physically and mentally, my health has improved a lot. In May, I resumed my training courses with my coach Pierre Varloteaux in Mende and Ussel, where we are always very well received, in preparation for the British Unlimited Aerobatic Championship in June and the French Championship in July.

Two national championship competitions... that's a lot of pressure. How did it go?

June 2019 will forever mark my personal history. For the first time ever, I competed in the British Unlimited Aerobatic Championship in Sywell (June 20-23) and won the title. Sywell is close to the city of Rugby where I was born, hence my dual French and British nationality. After two days of competition, 4 programs, 3 of which were unknown, it was with great emotion that I was able to lift the magnificent winner's trophy, with a super score of 79.6%. I also won the Freestyle competition. I would like to thank my coach, Pierre Varloteaux, who also helped me a lot with the logistics of my trip to England, and for his constant moral support. On my return to France, I had the extraordinary chance to fly over my home town, Rugby, in my Extra 330!

Congratulations on your title in England! And how was the French championship?

I am happy to see that my efforts paid off. I finished 10th out of 20, and second female with a score of 74.933%. This good result motivates me even more to work hard and get an even higher score.

Well, two national aerobatic championships in two months, quite an achievement! I imagine that you had other activities...

At the beginning of May, I went to London to shoot a commercial for a school project. I also spent two days in Clermont-Ferrand, in order to renew my instructor's license, which will be useful for my future projects. In May, we also started shooting a short video directed by Tom Braxstone, from Epic Digital Motion, who manages to capture on film the emotions I feel when I fly. Unfortunately due to inclement weather, we had to postpone the rest of the shoot until later in the season.

I understand you got a nasty surprise for your birthday...

On May 29, we got the shocking news from Red Bull Air Race. They had made the decision to stop racing completely after 2019, and for the 2019 season there would only be three races left: Kazan, Lake Balaton, and Chiba. As a result, I will no longer be flying in Kazan, but instead I will be doing two races in Lake Balaton, Hungary, on July 13 and 14. What a birthday present!

Wow! The shock! How did you react?

We all received the news by email in a terse manner, only a few hours before the official press release. Naturally, for many of us, we had to consider reorganizing our sporting year. Very sad about this bad news, but I am still very proud to have been part of the Challengers drivers as the first and only woman. New horizons open to me with beautiful projects.

After other training courses, you were seen at the world-famous Paris Air Show at Le Bourget.

I was invited by my sponsors, Michelin and Alsim. I was able to try the great new Alsim simulator where I was able to do some very rock and roll landings! I also spent some useful and enjoyable time with the Michelin family. I am always grateful to my sponsors for their constant support. Two great days at Le Bourget, but it was time for me and my Extra plane to cross the Channel.

For your next challenge, you had to do two races in Hungary for Red Bull Air Race. Were there any problems with the first race?

Due to logistical and mechanical problems on Friday, and bad weather changing on Saturday, the Challengers had very little time to train on the circuit.

When it was my turn to train, I was told that it was too late. The Challenger race had to be run immediately, and since a driver is not allowed to compete without a minimum of training, I was declared DNS (did not start). No need to tell you my frustration and my dismay, but it's behind me now, I will keep only the best, like my meeting with very special fans! On Sunday, July 14th, I would have liked so much to hear the Marseillaise for the National Day, I made a good flight but I ranked 5th. Considering that I had 6 minutes of training in the whole week, I am satisfied with my result. It was an emotional day, as this will be my very last flight for the Red Bull Air Race.

Having turned that page, we saw you in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, U.S.A... the largest annual aviation meeting in the U.S.A.!

EAA Air Venture Oshkosh is the largest annual aviation event in the U.S., which celebrated its 50th anniversary this year from July 21 to 25. I was there as a Michelin ambassador. Three intense days of public meetings, presentations, autograph sessions, women in aviation forums... I also spent time with the Alsim team, where I met CEO Jean-Paul Monnin. For Alsim a happy day, as the team was celebrating the sale of 4 AL 250 simulators. Oshkosh is always a great and unique experience for me and all aviation enthusiasts.

After all these events did you take some rest?

Not at all! Such a success is due to a lot of work and training, with my team. But also all the encouragement and support from friends, family, fans and of course my sponsors, ESAF, Michelin, BMW, Alsim, Pima Air & Space Museum, Group Galilé, ATM. And so, back to work with the next objective the World Aerobatic Championship at the end of August. The competition takes place from August 21 to 31. After Oshkosh, I quickly resumed my physical and mental training routine. And of course, I found my plane again for training courses: the first one at the beginning of August in Montceau les Mines, under the direction of Pierre Varloteaux.

And so, under which flag will you fly, since we learned that you could not be selected in the French Team?

Just after the French Championship in July, I got the confirmation that the British National Aerobatic Team offered me a place in their team, and consequently, the possibility to participate in the World Championship thanks to my dual Franco-British nationality and my title won in Sywell. I am very proud to represent the country of my birth and grateful to have the chance to fly with my new teammates Phil Burgess, Chris Brook and Nick Onn... So let's get to work!

Melanie, do you ever slow down?

One day at home, where I could ride my new BMW F850GS bike, thanks to my sponsor BMW, in my beautiful Provence. Then back to training for the World Championship.

So, all to Châteauroux, for the World Championship at the end of August!

Yes, I hope to see many of you there.


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