Castor Fantoba was crowned champion of the inaugural FAI Desert Challenge after two days of intense competition at the Al Ain Aerobatic Show. Flying a Sukhoi 26, the Spaniard recorded an overall score of 70.85%, just 1.82% ahead of second place Gerald Cooper in his CAP 232.
Fantoba’s triumph came after successfully completing three extremely demanding rounds, incorporating two compulsory sections and one free-style flight, which were marked by the international panel of judges according to strict Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) criteria.
With scoring done in real-time, the six pilots - all top 10 FAI event rankers in the last two years - were allowed only one routine run per discipline, giving them a limited window to impress the judging panel and crowds with their aerial skills, and
The ninth edition of the show featured more than 25 aircraft, including some of the planet’s best aerobatic and formation teams. Taking centre-stage was the multi-discipline FAI Desert Challenge, which saw six of the world’s best pilots flying in classic and free-style competition formats. They were joined by fighters from the UAE Air Force, aerobatic squadrons from the Turkish Air Force and Royal Saudi Air Force, Team Viper’s Hawker Hunter supersonic fighter jets, and many of the world’s best solo pilots, including Abu Dhabi ambassador Hannes Arch.