While many of you will have been following the outstanding achievements that have been going on at the World Championships in Russia, you might not be aware of the other dangers that are present. The Canopy Piloting World Championships is about start at Kolomna, near Moscow.
Competitors are still arriving and some have been here for a week. But Moscow and huge parts of Russia are engulfed in smoke from peat fires that have arisen after the unusually high temperatures this year. Many of the competitors that gave such inspiring performances in all of the disciplines that have already competed are still stranded in Moscow- the staging airport on their homeward journey. They should get out in time, coughing and spluttering, but for some of us our competition hasn’t even started yet. In fact, an Air Base in the town where the competition will be held was recently consumed by the fires and 200 aircraft were destroyed. Just a few hundreds metres from one of the hotels that we’re staying in there are blackened trees showing how close the fire came.
But now the fires are heading to Chernobyl and there’s a risk of radioactive material mixing with the drifting smoke. Canada and Poland are evacuating their embassies and the Russian Surgeon General has recommend that anyone that can leave the area should do so.
All this sounds pretty challenging and our lack of on-site training jumps is a real concern. But really the more problematic issues are that of a huge bunch of skydivers hanging out and not having much to do. This is when it gets dangerous and mischief comes in to play. So watch this space to see how it plays out (assuming we’re not consumed by the smoke and fires that is).