16 November 2023
Team GB took a well-earned fifth place in the World Advanced Aerobatic Championship held in Las Vegas recently – thanks to French pilot Melanie Astles.
Melanie was flying for the British Aerobatics team. She can fly for Team GB because she was born in Rugby, England in 1982 and moved to France at the age of 3. She holds dual British and French passports but chose to compete for the UK.
David Nichols of British Aerobatics said, “Melanie flew brilliantly, achieving a score of 76.529% across all four flights. The French pilot Tommy Douillard won, with his teammate Vladimir Gras coming second. Romanian Dan Stefanescu took third place with a score of 76.984%, which shows you just how close Mel got to getting on the podium.
“Melanie flew a borrowed Extra 330SC and went a week early to get accustomed to the new plane and the ‘hot & high’ density altitude,” continued Nichols. “Her preparation paid off and she is now looking ahead to the 2024 competition aerobatic season with excitement.”
Melanie is known to many as the only female pilot in the Red Bull Air Race where she was a regular competitor and race winner in the Challenger class.
She has also previously competed for France, including in 2015 when the French team won the Unlimited Aerobatics World Championship team award.