Stunt pilot’s Euro challenge

A NAILSEA-born stunt pilot soared into fifth place in the European Advanced Aerobatic Championships in Slovakia.

David Thomson, aged 36, was chosen to be part of a four-man team of elite aerobatic pilots to represent Britain.

They performed adrenaline-fuelled loops, rolls, flicks, spins and tumbles in front of crowds of spectators as well as a panel of international aerobatic judges at the prestigious event.

The competitors each had to fly a series of sequences made up of 10-15 manoeuvres that were scored on their precision and presentation.

David said: “We fly to the limits of the aircraft as well as to our own physical and mental limits. With speeds in excess of 230mph and G-forces reaching 10 times our own body weight, it is a tough environment in which to fly highly complex figures. Aerobatics requires delicate precision and split second reactions on the controls.”

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But David, who has two children with his wife Nina, adds: “There is a sense of freedom that I don’t think you can get from any other sport. Being able to swoop down and then zoom up into the air like a bird is an incredible feeling.

“Aeroplanes are my lifelong passion. As a kid, I used to build and fly radio-controlled models and now I am flying the real thing.”

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The team came fifth in the championships out of over 60 pilots from 16 nations, including members of the French, Russian and Czech Republic air forces.

But, unlike those state-sponsored teams, Team GBR is made up of civilian pilots who fund their flying themselves.

David said: “Having the support of the British Aerobatic Association is vital to us, but we need more support from a key sponsor to show the rest of the world what a great pool of flying talent we have in this country.

“I am extremely proud to be part of such a strong team and we looking forward to the world championships next year, where we hope to bring home some medals.”

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