Flight TV - Issue 9

First day of 52nd Russian Open Helicopter Sports Championship. Preparatory day and explanations.
This is the first English issue after 2-year hiatus. We need your feedback and will improve.

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Hello! I’m Ignat Solovey and this is Flight TV, the only Russian TV program on general aviation. We are restarting our English-language production. I’m the cameraman and your host here. This and four more issues are dedicated to 52nd Russian Open Helicopter Sports Championship and 2nd stage of the 1st Helicopter Racing World Cup. These competitions were held on July 12th to 16th at International Academy of Helicopter Sports near Konakovo, Tver’ region, Russia.

The first day of Russian Heli Championship was full of paperwork: participants registration, technical and credentials commissions. Later the crews went for training flights.

Russian Helicopter Sports Championship is Open. It means that participants are not only from Russia, but from other countries as well. This year the number of crews increased: that means the growing popularity of helicopter sports.


Competition Secretary, International Class Helisport Judge

This year we have a lot of competitors, can’t remember that for many years before. There are 31 crews in Russian Championship and 32 crews for the Races Cup. We have international attendance here: teams from Austria, Belarus, Poland and Ukraine, as well as many Russian regions. It’s quite pleasant to have such diversity.

Austria and Belarus sent 8 sportsmen each, six crewmen from Ukraine, two competitors from Poland and crews from five regions of Russia — that’s quite a geography! Most of them are Masters of Sports, there are also Sub-Masters and International Grade Masters. The entry threshold isn’t restrictive: you can participate with 80 or more hours on your log, but at least 10 of those should be spent in helicopter sports training at any certified venue. It is nothing wrong with just 10 hours, because sport is nothing like routine flight using autopilot. Pilots compliance verification is an obvious task for the Credentials Commission.


Competition Secretary, International Class Helisport Judge

Credentials commission is mandatory part of competitions preparation. First, we check if crews are fit for flight, if they passed medical tests so that they would have no health deviations and doctors gave them ok to fly. The second subject of our scrutiny are pilots’ log books. There we look which tasks they completed and what kind of flight they are ready for, how many total hours and how many sports hours each of them has.

Competition secretaries don’t remember any surprises at this stage: applications are filed in advance. Hence, all sportsmen know what is expected and what do they need to do. Technical commission is similar in that regard. Its task is to check history sheets and log books, but most importantly, sealing of anything that’s banned or just isn’t needed during the games.

Alexander BESSONOV

Aviation Safety Chief, Konakovo Airfield (UUEL)

Our primary objective is to see if helicopters are good and ready. Here we seal radioaltimeter because some pilots may cheat using it. Second thing sealed is the radio, so that pilots couldn’t switch frequency and chat between each other in secret. Also we check rotorcraft logs and history sheets, and crew’s mission requirements.

At World Helicopter Sports Championships organizers use special tools to seal anything non-essential. Here technicians just stick signed band-aid strips to knobs. By the way, personal mobile phones are put into sealed envelopes as well. Smart gizmos are left on board for real emergency, but unless it happens, phones and tablets stay sealed and are handed out to participants only after the last of them lands. That’s done to prevent crews sharing task and route information with their teammates. Of course, band-aid and envelopes are less important here than competitor’s conscience. Dirty players are disqualified and ostracized. That, though is highly uncommon here: helicopter sports is noble.

While participants of 52nd Russian Helicopter Sports Open Championship were registered and competition officials sorted out paperwork, judges were busy at their seminar. Details follow.

Judges seminar is a standard procedure as well, but this year is a bit different. On March 2017 F.A.I., the International Air Sports Federation, altered helicopter sports rules to simplify competitions somehow. In the task of Navigation, the margins of entry to the search zone and exit from it are extended, as well as checkpoint signs were made bigger. The mandatory descend at turning points was omitted as well. Starting this year, F.A.I.-approved GPS loggers will be used to resolve conflicts. These devices look like normal USB memory stick, but contain GPS/GLONASS receiver to track and log coordinates, altitude and speed. At certain tasks, video and photo logging is in order, and use of dash cams or GoPro-type camcorders is allowed to watch crews during the Navigation… this time no dash cams, though. The final decision is taken by the Chief Judge, but, contrary to soccer or ice hockey where the judge is always right, in helicopter sports competitors may file objections and protests.

Anatoly ULANOV

Chief Judge, 52nd Russian Helisports Open

Objection to a chief judge may be voiced by either participating crew or team representative. Chief Judge has to resolve an issue so that it wouldn’t turn into filing of a protest. If such resolution is not possible and team representative still defends his point, he has to file a written protest. That protest is to be reviewed by the championship panel that consists of the Championship Director, Chief Judge and a representative of the organizer.

There were 40 judges of different categories working at Russian Helisports Championship. One doesn’t need any special skills to become a judge in helicopter sports. It’s enough to get some classes in theory and pass an exam in person in Moscow. After that you’re given official credentials by the Russian Federal Sports Ministry.

Anatoly ULANOV

Chief Judge, 52nd Russian Helisports Open

We accept anyone who’s willing, no problem, although we have no urgent need of judges. All locals from any Russian sports airfield take part in judging, it is not hard at all.

Judges have different background, both helicopter sports pilots or people without any aviation background. Anna Voroshilina is an example of the latter: she is a school teacher from Novosibirsk.


Helisport Judge 3rd Class

When I was a university student in 2006, there was helisports championship of Siberian Federal District. We, students, helped with its organization, I made friends with people at Russian Helisport Federation. I was technical staff for several years, and last year I’ve got my official credentials.

The oldest judge of this championship is 77 years old. It was 1962 when Valery Smirnov came into aviation. He was the absolute champion of 11th Russian championship (now, I remind, it’s 52nd). He has twenty-seven titles in both individual and team trials. Six times he became the world champion in team trials. He still can’t part with helicopters and is glad that helicopter sports unites all kinds of rotorcraft.


International Class Helisport Judge

We have old helicopters here. How old is Mi-2? Yet we still win on them, you know… Now businessmen came with their Robinsons to help us, and we’re grateful to these guys. They are the champions now. We have common school, and we have no animosity towards each other… We had a long road towards it, there were Army, DOSAAF, later private pilots, and all of them were on their own. And now we all progress together, and the win is everyone’s if you know what I mean. That’s mighty good.

Many judges say that helicopter sport is a life time hobby. Easy to get to and hard to quit.


Helisport Judge 3rd Class

It’s wonderful sensation. Every year one forgets everything and comes to that championship. Lots of emotions — no other sports can offer that. Any technical sports is interesting, of course, but helicopter sports is even more special.


Helisport Judge 2nd Class

There are a lot of interesting people around here. A crowd of pilots, sportsmen and helicopter people is always interesting. These people are really special, they live with skies, with friendship, and it’s just great fun to be around them.

The first competition day was ended with the official opening ceremony. After that, the crews went to their hotels to get some rest before competition. This issue is over as well.

Ah, yes!
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