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Jan 24 2008

World's oldest plane returns to the Middle East after 96 years

Belriot XI
Belriot XI

Century old Belriot XI woos spectators at Al Ain Int' Championship

Al Ain, UAE. 24th January 2008: Spectators at the largest ever Al Ain International Aerobatics Championship - the curtain raiser to the global air sports calendar - witnessed a piece of aviation history today as the world's oldest plane - the 100 year old Belriot XI - returned to the Middle East's cascading dunes after a hiatus of nearly a century.

Since taking to the skies of Libya back in 1912, the Belriot XI, has continued to make aviation history. Gaining immortality on July 25th 1909, the Bleriot XI aircraft crossed the English Channel from Calais to Dover in just 36 and half minutes, and followed this up four years later as it performed the first flying loop - giving birth to the sport of aerobatics.

"The Al Ain International Aerobatics Championship is a breathtaking display of modern aircraft being taken to the limit in awe-inspiring stunts. The Belriot XI pioneered this entire scene nearly a century ago, and is great to be able to fly this piece of aviation history here in Al Ain and show everyone how we got to where we are today with the modern aircraft on display," said Swedish pilot, Mikael Carlson - who discovered the aircraft abandoned in a barn and renovated it to its full flying prowess in 1991.

The aircraft, which will be flying throughout the Championship till its conclusion on Sunday, had to use a specially cleared 200 metre desert runway to take off and land, as the wheels aren't designed for a concrete surface - as it wasn't a factor in 1910.

Jointly organised by the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) and the UAE Air Force and Air Defence, and in conjunction with the World Air Sports Federation, the 2008 show, which is being held under the patronage of HH General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, will see over 110 aircraft compete in the four-day family extravaganza.

-Ends-

© Press Release 2008


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