The 3rd stage of Helicopter World Cup took place in Vitebsk (Belarus)

13 August 2019
The 3rd stage of Helicopter World Cup took place in Vitebsk (Belarus)

The 3rd stage of Helicopter World Cup took place at Kukoviatchino airfield in Vitebsk region (Belarus).

19 crews from 5 countries (Belarus, Czech Republic, Poland, Russia and Ukraine) came to the airfield of Vitebsk airclub DOSAAF. The chief judge Lothar Oehler represented Germany. The crews in Russian Mi-2 and in American R-44 competed during three days.

Helicopter sport appeared in USSR 61 years ago. Russia was the initiator of the World Cup, which includes Helicopter races. It has been held since 2017. The first and second stages of the World Cup 2019 were held in the UK and in Russia. Athletes compete in two disciplines: "Slalom" and "Fender" on two parallel courses according to the Olympic system "playoff" best out of three. There are two people in helicopter: the crew commander (pilot) and the crew member (controls the bucket or fender). Crews can be male, female and mixed. Men and women fight on equal terms. All crews are divided into classes according to their level of skill: General class – for athletes of good level and debutants, class Masters – the highest sports League.

In "slalom" the crew (pilot and crew member) should take off with an empty bucket on a rope, hover over the barrel and from a three-meter height scoop out a bucket of water. Then carry a bucket of water on a rope 5 meters long through 11 gates in a certain direction and finally put it on a small table with a diameter slightly larger than the diameter of the bottom of the bucket without spilling water. The winner is the crew, who did it faster and without penalties. Penalties are charged for non-passage of the gate and for lost water.

In "fender", the crew member should put the 8 kg fender in turn in three containers from the height of 4, 6 and 8 metres.

The competitors – professional and amateur pilots, military and civilian, men and women, all show high results. They often differ by tenths of a second! The flights were accompanied by a detailed and emotional commentary, which made the competition especially spectacular and understandable for the audience. There were a lot of people who came to cheer for the Belarusian crews.

The skill and the fans' support helped the Belarussian team. All 3 crews mounted the podium!

The crews from Vitebsk airclub DOSAAF took the 3rd place (Nikita Laptev and Vladislav Kurs) and the 2nd place (Vladimir Bugaev and Andrey Rogonov) in "Slalom" in Masters class. The crew from Minsk, the pilot Alexander Tsenter (the president of Belarussian Federation of air sport) and crew member Vladimir Striyonok won gold medals in "Fender" in General class.

In "Fender" in General class the 2nd and the 3rd places were shared by Russian crews: pretty fragile-looking girls competing in Mi-2, who fly as good as men, Elena Prokofieva and Diana Riyazova (2nd place); and a new crew in helicopter sport competing in R-44, Andrey Baraev and Vadim Sazonov (3rd place).

A very experienced crew from CSKA of Russian Military Air Forces - Viktor Degtiar and Petr Vassiliev became the winners in "Slalom" in Masters class.

Another female crew from Russia - the pilot Irina Didenko and the crew member Svetlana Gumbatova - triumphantly won in flight for the 3rd place and took bronze medals in "Slalom" in General class. Ukrain didn't go unrewarded too. Vladislav Musienko and Igor Sokolov took silver medals in "Slalom" in General class. The gold went to Russian crew Andrey Baraev and Vadim Sazonov, who managed to beat in their first sport season more experienced rivals!

In "Fender" in Masters class, the fastest and the most accurate were Russian pilots Yury Yablokov and Konstantin Podoynitsin. Silver medals went to multiple Champions of Russia Maxim Sotnikov and Aleh Puodjukas, and Russian military pilots - Sergey Tupikov and Alexey Pintelin - got bronze.

The debutants of Helicopter World cup - crews from Czech Republic - were still not ready to get medals, though they took the first place in qualification flights in "Fender". But looking at their flights, we can say with confidence – just some time later, these guys will show a good level and become quit competitive!

Polish crews also fought with dignity. This time they failed to win awards and went home to train and prepare for the 4th final stage of the competition, which will be held in Poland on September 21-22, and which will summarize, identifying the winners of the World Cup in helicopter sport 2019.

The correct work of the panel of judges, the skill and passion of the athletes, the accuracy and concentration of the organizers, the sincere atmosphere – all this was felt by the participants and spectators of the 3rd stage of the World Cup.

So, the competition is over. Athletes and judges left, helicopters flew to gain strength and to meet again in Poland at the final stage of the Helicopter World Cup 2019.

See you in Poland!