Russian pilots have proven their class once again as the country hosted the World Helicopter Championships at the Drakino airfield 100 kilometers south of Moscow.
Teams from 11 countries have come together to prove who are the best pilots, with a huge crowd gathering to watch the air displays.
“I think it's fantastic to engage ordinary people, to see what helicopters can do,” British pilot Quentin Smith said. “I think they enjoy watching the competition, and the standard of flying is excellent so if you want to see good flying this is a good place to come.”
Using ten types of helicopters, over five days of competition, the pilots take part in five different events: navigation, precision, fender rigging, slalom, and freestyle.
For the ninth year running, Russian pilots swept the board in the first four and are aiming to take their helicopters to another level.
“Russia is trying to make this sport even more spectacular, for example Helicopter Racing is not yet officially included in the compulsory program of the world championships,” Russian pilot Margarita Afanaskina told RT.“It was invented in Russia with the aim to create more interesting events.”
Freestyle is considered as a separate trophy where pilots perform aerobatics, combined with other stunts.
This year, legendary world freestyle champion, Quentin Smith, returned to competition after an 18-year break and still shared top honors with Austria's Siegfried Schwarz, helping ensure Britain finished behind Russia on the podium, with Germany third.
But, in this case, the taking part was as important as the result.
“It's very much a family,” judge Elizabeth Tesra stressed. “All the teams know each other, they have all met before, we know each other’s families, and we know the pilots and all the other judges, so we are just a big happy family.”
So, after another eye-catching tournament the spectators were also treated to a spectacular finale as Russian military helicopters made a guest appearance to bid farewell to another year's competition.