Category Archives: Airsports

3,2,1… Go! The 2023 Fai World drone racing Championship in Korea starts this Friday

The city of Namwon in the Republic of Korea is buzzing with excitement as the world’s best drone racing pilots have arrived to compete in the 2023 FAI World Drone Racing Championship (WDRC), part of the World Drone Festa.

Renowned as the biggest competition of its kind, a total of 115 competitors are registered for the Championship. They will battle it out in Namwon’s Sports Town complex, Jeollabuk-do from 6-9 October 2023, in an exhilarating high-speed drone race, with cash prizes up for grabs.

The challenging track twists and turns around ramps, tunnels, hoops, straights and a cube feature, and has been designed to test the skills of the pilots over an optimised trajectory of 725m.

Drone racing tends to attract highly focused younger pilots. In total there will be 40 juniors competing, as well as 65 seniors, with ages ranging from nine years old to 47.

Twelve female pilots will participate, including Thailand’s Wanraya Wannapong who won the female champion title in both previous editions of the WDRC in 2018 and 2019.

France’s Killian Rousseau is currently top of the World Cup Ranking, followed by Pawel Laszczak of Poland and Roland Ronto from Hungary.

There are 29 national teams plus six wild card individual competitors registered, and pilots are travelling from as far afield as Finland, Israel, South Africa, the USA and a number of Asian countries.

Prize money is on offer for the top four pilots in Individual, Female and Junior categories, plus the top six Nations. The best individual will win 15,000,000 South Korean won (just over 11,000 US dollars).

This is the third edition of the 2023 FAI World Drone Racing Championship. Previous events were held in 2018 and 2019 and this is the championship’s hotly anticipated return after the pandemic.



  • 2023 FAI e-Drone Racing Cup – Part 1 (8 races) and Opening Ceremony


  • 2023 FAI e-Drone Racing Cup – Final (7 races)
  • WDRC Qualifying rounds 1-3 (24 races each)


  • WDRC Additional and Elimination rounds


  • WDRC Elimination rounds, Juniors Final, Women’s Final, Overall Final
  • Medals & Closing Ceremony


FAI Air Sports Channel

  • 11:30-21:10 (KST), October 7, 2023
  • 08:30-20:20 (KST), October 8, 2023
  • 09:00-14:00 (KST), October 9, 2023


Not only will spectators see the elite of the drone racing world race around the obstacles at high speeds, but they will also be part of the World Drone Festa, which includes the final of the 2023 FAI e-Drone Racing Cup in which 32 pilots will compete for cash prizes. This is the first ever race of its kind, and will be livestreamed on the FAI Air Sports Youtube Channel:  13:30-15:30 (KST), October 6, 2023 09:00-11:00 (KST), October 7, 2023


Drone Soccer originates from Korea, and visitors to the World Drone Festa will also be able to watch the Korean FAI Drone Soccer Open International Cup, which will feature 70 competitors in two categories. Live Streaming: Korea Aero Models Association Channel: 10:00-17:00 (KST), October 7, 2023, 10:00-18:00 (KST), October 8, 2023, 10:00-16:00 (KST), October 9, 2023.

Continue reading 3,2,1… Go! The 2023 Fai World drone racing Championship in Korea starts this Friday

Korea to host world’s biggest drone racing competition in 2023

The World Air Sports Federation or Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) has awarded the 2023 FAI World Drone Racing Championship to Korea. It is the biggest competition of its kind, offering an arena for the world’s best pilots to pit their skills against one another.

The Championship will take place from 6 to 9 October 2023 at the Chunhyangol Stadium in Namwon, Jeollabuk-do, about two hours south of Seoul. It will include prize money of USD 100,000.

Chunhyangol Stadium

KAMA, one of the sport’s most experienced organisers worldwide, is teaming up with the Federation of Korea Aeronautics and the city of Namwon to deliver the Championship, with the aim of organising a top-level event for competitors and spectators alike. Aside from the Drone Racing competition, an FAI Drone Soccer competition, a Drone Conference and other side events will familiarise spectators with the infinite world of drones. Music concerts and an array of cultural activities will complete the picture in the field of entertainment, while experts will debate and discuss drones at a conference.

Drone Soccer

Antonis Papadopoulos, President of the FAI Aeromodelling Commission, said: “We are delighted with the 2023 FAI World Drone Racing Championship being held in Korea, knowing this exciting competition has been entrusted to the hands of highly competent and experienced organisers. Their ambitious plans to showcase drones in all their variety, competition and otherwise, is promising to be a hit with everyone. And I must say, after two years of interruption, we are all impatient to see the world’s best of the best pilots fight for victory. This event cannot come soon enough!”

The two first editions of the FAI Drone Racing World Championship happened in Shenzhen (2018) and Ningbo (2019), China, before a three-year gap caused by the pandemic.

Drone Racing

2022 FAI Awards winners announced

FAI announced the recipients of the 2022 FAI Awards on Tuesday in a ceremony held online as a video broadcast. The event celebrated the individuals and teams who have made a significant impact upon aeronautics and astronautics and was viewed by air sports community members and enthusiasts from across the globe.

The 2022 award winners represent many nations, many air sports, and many vocations. Included in this year’s prestigious list are accomplished judges, model aircraft builders, skilled pilots, UAV engineers, a publishing house and the first all-civilian crew to go to space.

> Full Ceremony video


FAI Silver Medal
> Alvaro DE ORLEANS-BORBON (Spain)

FAI Bronze Medal
> Marylou LAUGHLIN (United States of America)

Sabiha Gökcen Medal
> Euhee LEE (Korea)

De La Vaulx Medal
> Airbus Zephyr Programme (USA)

Louis Blériot Medal
> Klaus Ohlmann (Germany)

FAI Group Diplomas of Honour
> GFA Training Program Steering Group (Australia)
> Aeroklub Brno – Slatina (Czech Republic)
> Omilos Aeromonteliston Melissochoriou (Greece)
> Editorial Perfils – Revista Parapente – Vuelo Libre (Spain)

Paul Tissandier Diplomas
> Beryl HARTLEY (Australia)
> Arnold HOHENEGGER (Austria)
> Margit NANCE (Canada)
> Karel MARIK (Czech Republic)
> Martin REZEK (Czech Republic)
> Xavier BONET DALMAU (Spain)
> Faustino CANTOS GRACIA (Spain)
> Henri CORDEROY DU TIERS (France)
> Gyula KISS (Hungary)
> Peter SZABO (Hungary)
> Norihiro GOTO (Japan)
> Pierre KLEIN (Luxemburg)
> Tim BROMHEAD (New Zealand)
> Mark WOODHOUSE (New Zealand)
> Krzysztof WIECZOREK (Poland)
> George ROTARU (Romania)
> Srdjan SRDIC (Serbia)
> Anton LANDOLT (Switzerland)
> Rudolf SCHAUB (Switzerland)
> Eduard INAEBNIT (Switzerland)
> Rob HUGHES (United Kingdom)
> Howard TORODE (United Kingdom)


Montgolfier Ballooning Diplomas, Best Performance, Gas Ballooning
> Eric DECELLIÈRES and Benoît HAVRET (France)

Montgolfier Ballooning Diplomas, Best Performance, Hot Air Ballooning
> David SPILDOOREN (Belgium)

Montgolfier Ballooning Diplomas, Major Contribution to the Development of the Sport of Ballooning
> Garry A. LOCKYER (Canada)

Leonardo Da Vinci Parachuting Diploma

FAI Aeromodelling Gold Medal
> Marek DOMINIAK (Poland)

Andrei Tupolev Aeromodelling Medal
> Michal ZITNAN (Slovakia)

Andrei Tupolev Aeromodelling Diploma
> Jan KOTUHA (Slovakia)

Alphonse Penaud Aeromodelling Diploma
> Jan KOTUHA (Slovakia)

Antonov Aeromodelling Diploma
> Aleksandar STOJANOVIC (Serbia)

Frank Ehling Diploma
> Vladimir SVEC (Slovakia)

Pelagia Majewska Gliding Medal
> Marina VIGORITO (Italy)

Ann Welch Diploma, Microlight
> Krisztian DOLHAI (Hungary)

Ann Welch Diploma, Paramotor
> Daniel TYDECKS (Germany)

FAI Gold Rotorcraft Medal
> Michael SCHAUFF (Germany)

Leon Biancotto Aerobatics Diploma
> Mike HEUER (USA)

Vladimir Komarov Diploma
> Inspiration 4 (USA)

Yuri A. Gagarin Gold Medal
> Crew of Space DM-2 (NASA/Douglas G. Hurley and NASA/Robert L. Behnken) (USA)

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A moment with Markus Haggeny, FAI Secretary General

It is apparent that Markus Haggeny has a heart full of love for air sports. He is passionate about it and its participants’ safety especially during this time of the COVID-19 crisis. But don’t take our word for it, read on below to find out more about this magnanimous man.

Clark Hot Air Balloon Festival 2019, The Philippines. Photo: writer’s own.

Markus Haggeny was named as the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) Secretary General on 15 April 2020. He was appointed as the Acting Secretary General in December 2019. He is not new to the Federation though – he was the Sports & Event Director, a role he held from 2014.

If you are wondering what he does exactly at the FAI, here are some words of introduction by Markus Haggeny himself –

“As the newly appointed Secretary General of the FAI, the World Air Sports Federation, based in Lausanne, Switzerland, I’m responsible for the smooth running of the FAI Office, which is charged with the day-to-day operations of the Federation. Together, the FAI staff, officials and volunteers strive to fulfill FAI’s mission to promote air sports and recreational flying around the world. This includes the ratification of world and continental records, and the sanctioning of competitions.”

Air sports from an early age

Markus brings with him an “extensive international corporate experience, which gives me the valuable insight into the business world that is so vital for International Federations today.” This is on top of his years of experience as a pilot and air sports official.

If you caught the word “pilot” in the previous paragraph, you will be forgiven if you thought that Markus Haggeny was an airplane pilot. His first foray into air sports was on a hot air balloon.

Paragliding at Jugra Hill, Malaysia. Photo: writer’s own

“‘Vocation’ is the first word that springs to mind. I developed a lifelong interest in all things flying when I was a kid, thanks to my family’s involvement in hot air balloons – my father had been flying for many years when I first set foot in a basket. That’s why I can say that training to become a Ballooning pilot came very naturally for me.

One thing led to another, and I began competing. Not long after, I was keen to take an even more active role in the ballooning community, and I organised numerous events, and represented Germany in ballooning for many years: In 2014 I joined the sports department of the FAI Office and now, at 60, my enthusiasm for flying remains unchanged, so much so that I have recently started Paragliding, which I thoroughly enjoy. Air sports are for anyone, at any age!” he happily enthused.   

FAI and COVID-19

Now with the appearance of the coronavirus and the world adapting to a new normal he says the FAI is changing the way they approach things.

“Stabilisation and consolidation are the key words at the moment. Given this unprecedented Coronavirus situation, it is more important than ever that we, the elected representatives, staff and officials, fly through the turbulence as a united front. Similarly, I think that now, more than ever, is the time to nurture the bonds within the air sports community, to strengthen the relationships with all the officials and members, and to support those that need assistance. These are the priorities right now,” he says.

When asked about how COVID-19 has changed the landscape of air sports worldwide, he says, “Unfortunately, 2020 is a peculiar year for everyone, including all those involved in sports. For example, at this time of the year, our events calendar is usually packed with hundreds of championships and regional events involving thousands of pilots and skydivers around the world. Sadly, many of these competitions had to be postponed or cancelled because of the pandemic: the paramount concern of FAI and our event organisers is public health and safety.”

Making a joint effort

He also says that “Uncertainty is our main challenge here. Nobody knows how the situation will evolve, how fast the situation will improve, or even when the pilots will be able to train properly again. We have to stay flexible and to adapt to whatever challenge is thrown at us, like the rest of the world. I am sure that our global air sports community will adapt to the many challenges that society is faced with.”

His remark was in response to what kind of changes on future air sports events will be organised. But all is not lost though as there are already plans in place.

“In this difficult context, I am pleased to say that FAI and the air sports community is making an extraordinary joint effort to overcome this crisis. We are developing new tools to work together remotely more efficiently, and we are supporting the event organisers as best we can, so they can find solutions to hold their events at a later date,” he says.

The Olympics

When asked about the inclusion of air sports in the Olympic Games, he is frank with his answer.

“This is not our prime focus, given the current state of affairs. However, FAI is a proud member of the Olympic Family and we share the values of the Olympic Movement, even when not participating in the Games,” he says.

“The Olympic Games is a wonderful event that we would be honoured to be part of. At this moment in time, we are proud of our status of IOC-recognised Federation,” he added.

This pride goes back full circle with his involvement with FAI, as it gives him the opportunity to not only practice but to promote air sports at the same time. He says, “This makes me happy to get up every day.”

To all of the air sports athletes out there itching to fly again, he has these words of advice:

“Please stay home, practice social distancing and stay healthy. In aviation we say: ‘Take off is optional, landing is mandatory’. The message being – make wise decisions, be aware of your responsibility to and for others and look ahead to the future. We will fly in safe conditions again together soon.”

FAI World Air Games moved to 2022

Following a statement released on 20 January 2020, the Federation Aeronautic International (FAI) and Turkish Aeronautical Association (THK) have announced that the FAI World Air Games in Turkey have been moved from 2020 to September 2022.

In a statement signed by FAI President Robert Henderson and THK President A. Bertan Nogaylaroğlu both organisations committed to “supercharging” the FAI World Air Games to provide an “exciting, engaging, professional and safe global event”.

The statement added: “We will combine all aspects of the FAI World Air Games to provide a strong legacy for future air sports and aviation activities in THK and the FAI.”

The FAI World Air Games is a multi-sport air sports event held every few years. The last FAI World Air Games was held in Dubai, UAE in 2015.

The FAI World Air Games in Turkey 2022 will be the fifth edition of the Games.

FAI President Bob Henderson said: “This has not been an easy decision to make. However it has been taken with all interests at heart and with a long-term and strategic view. The FAI World Air Games is the flagship event of the Federation and, as such, we must make sure that it be held in optimal conditions. The FAI will take this opportunity to discuss internally the future of the Games taking all FAI stakeholders’ best interests in consideration. “Since the start, the FAI, including the FAI Office and the Sports Commissions, has been working hard on the preparations for the event with our esteemed Member THK. We are grateful to our Turkish friends and thank them for all their efforts.”

Information about the future FAI World Air Games events will be communicated in due course.


Team Korea victorious at FAI World Drone Racing Championship 2019

Team Korea

The 2019 FAI World Drone Racing Championship Grand Final was held at a dedicated drone-racing track, built especially for the competition in Xiangshan Ningbo, a coastal city in the south east of China about 300km from Shanghai.

16-year-old Korean drone pilot Changhyeon Kang is the new FAI World Drone Racing Champion in the Overall and Junior categories while 12-year-old Wanraya “Milk” Wannapong of Thailand successfully defended her title for the Women’s category.

Photo credit: via

Australia’s Thomas Bitmatta, 20, in second place and French pilot Killian Rousseau, 15, came in third in the Overall category while Korean Siyun Park, 15, and Teng Ma, 34, of the USA in the Women’s category in the championship that took place at Ningbo, China from 11-14 December 2019.

Drone racing pilots from Korea, Australia and France dominated this year’s meet

Speaking at the event, Acting Secretary General of the FAI Markus Haggeney said: “Congratulations to all the medallists, particularly the Korean team on claiming gold medals in a total of three categories, and the impressive young Thai pilot Wanraya Wannapong, who is now an FAI World Champion for the second time at just 12 years old.

“And thanks to everyone who has played a part in making this FAI World Drone Racing Championship Grand Final such an excellent competition. There has been a fantastic atmosphere throughout and the Aero Sports Federation of China (ASFC), the organiser Starmach, the city of Ningbo and all the officials and volunteers have done a great job.” 

Team Malaysia’s Amir Rijal and Amir Keri Jr.

The competition took place over four days:

  • 11 December: Model processing and practice flights
  • 12 December: Opening ceremony and qualifying rounds
  • 13 December: Elimination rounds
  • 14 December: Elimination rounds, finals, medal and closing ceremonies

Among the 112 participating pilots, 103 drone pilots, including 40 juniors and nine women, competed as part of 31 national teams. The other nine pilots competed as individuals.

Team Malaysia sent two drone pilots this year, Amir Rijal, 24 (ranked 93/111) and Amir Keri Jr., 20 (ranked 83/111).

The race track this year was inspired by the Bi-Fish, a traditional Chinese Tai Chi symbol

Pilots tested their skills on a three-level championship racetrack that was 4m wide and 6m high, with a total length of 630m. Called Bi-Fish, it was inspired by the traditional Chinese Tai Chi symbol, and the maritime culture of Xiangshan, Ningbo – a former fishing village – and included lots of sharp turns, 16 air gates, and a tunnel. supported Team Malaysia as its Official Media Partner, and drone racing has been adopted as a Move8 Pro program for youth – getting young people outdoors and moving.



  1. KANG Changhyeon (KOR)
  2. BITMATTA Thomas (AUS)
  3. ROUSSEAU Killian (FRA)


  1. WANNAPONG Wanraya (THA)
  2. PARK Siyun (KOR)
  3. MA Teng (USA)


  1. KANG Changhyeon (KOR)
  2. KIM JaeJong (KOR)
  3. HEEPS Sam (AUS)

National teams

  1. Korea
  2. Australia
  3. China

Tengku Abdillah (Malaysia) receives Compagnon D’Honneur award at 113th FAI General Conference, Lausanne

AFT News Network // Lausanne, 8 December 2019 – Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, FAI – The World Air Sports Federation conferred the prestigious award of “Compagnon D’Honneur” to Malaysia’s Tengku Abdillah – Regional Vice President for East and South East Asia.

Tengku Abdillah (Malaysia) receiving the prestigious Companions of Honour award from FAI President, Bob Henderson (New Zealand)

In a phone interview, Tengku shared his excitement.
AFT speaks with Tengku Abdillah in Lausanne

When they mentioned my name, I was shocked and tears start coming from my eyes. I never never expected it, not at all. What I’ve done for FAI was just my passion and my love for airsports… After seven and a half years as regional Vice President of FAI, I’ve said that’s it, I’ve got to stop somewhere and end of this year, I’ll stop”.

“I started airsports by flying the aeromodelling aircraft with my son and a few of my friends. When the Department of Civil Aviation at that time decided to organise an air carnival, they wanted all activities of airsports to be there. A DCA representative contacted me, and I became the leader for aeromodelling… DCA was very happy, and after four air carnivals, they contacted me and mentioned that Tun Dr. Mahathir, the Prime Minister then asked to setup an Air Sports Federation. They gathered four disciplines; aeromodelling, parachuting, paragliding and hot air balloon and started the Malaysia Sport Aviation Federation. I was elected as MSAF President from 2012-2015 (correction: 2011-2015) and then concentrated on regional basis for the FAI, and then I was the one who initiated the AirSports Federation of Asia (AFA),”.

“Next year, I want to concentrate more time in Malaysia especially on drone, and eSports,”.

Photo credit: FAI / Marcus King

The 113th FAI General Conference took place in Lausanne, Switzerland, on 5 and 6 December 2019 and was attended by 110 delegates from Active, Associate, and Temporary Member Countries alongside International Affiliate Members, FAI elected Officers, Presidents of Honour, Companions of Honour, delegates appointed by Presidents of Commissions and Observers.


Tengku Abdillah (FAI Regional Vice President for East & Southeast Asia / Malaysia Sports Aviation Federation) and Dr John LANGFORD (National Aeronautic Association of the USA) were appointed FAI Companions of Honour by the Conference for their services to FAI.

Tengku Abdillah will join a team of two Malaysian pilots at the 2019 FAI World Drone Racing Championships in Xiangshan Ningbo, China next week from 11-14 December 2019. The championship, which attracts over 100 top drone racing pilots from around the world is a major highlight in the international drone-racing circuit.

What is the FAI?

The FAI was founded in 1905 and is a non-governmental and non-profit making international organisation with the basic aim of furthering aeronautical and astronautical activities worldwide, ratifying world and continental records and coordinating the organisation of international competitions. It is recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

AsiaFitnessToday is a proud media supporter of the Malaysian team once again, having supported the pilots at the inaugural 2018 World Drone Racing Championships held in Shenzhen last year. Drone racing is adopted as a Move8 movement program for youth empowerment. Find out more: