Martin Šonka wins gold and silver at European Aerobatic Championships

The Czech pilot took two top awards in Moravská Třebová and is now headed to Lausitzring

Czech aerobatic pilot Martin Šonka scored a big success at the 20th FAI European Aerobatic Championship (EAC) in Moravská Třebová, which was held Aug. 20–27. The competition had 40 pilots from 13 countries. He earned gold and silver medals. It was the best showing for a Czech pilot since 1985.

In Classic Aerobatics in the top category of Unlimited, Šonka finished second overall and in the Freestyle discipline he won gold and defended the title of European Champion.

Šonka was not optimistic at the start of the race. “Unfortunately I did not have much time to train, so I was not expecting great results. Basically, I came out of the last Red Bull Air Race from England and jumped into the [European] Aerobatic Championship. Paradoxically, it might have helped me. The pressure was not so extreme even though I flew at my home base, where I wanted to have a good showing. I was relaxed, and I just flew well,” Šonka said. He has just participated in the Aug. 13–14 Red Bull Air Race at the Ascot Race Track in Berkshire, England.

The Classical Aerobatics competition had four flights. “Already in the first two flights I succeeded, which encouraged me. There was tough competition with several world champions, so it is really not easy to get through,” he said, adding that the competition is decided on very small details, as there are no bad pilots at that level. In the end, Šonka could not overcome Mikhail Mamistov of Russia, so he had to settle for silver.

He did better in the Freestyle competition, which is his favorite. Šonka left the competition behind to become European Champion is this discipline. “I really enjoy Freestyle. … It's just about you and what you can do with the aircraft. You have almost absolute freedom. I knew that I did not really train enough, but here I wanted to really succeed,” he said.

He said he was satisfied with the overall outcome. “I am overjoyed. I had a very demanding schedule with a lot of air shows and many other duties. I really did not know what to expect. To win gold and silver, and in addition at my home base, is an unbelievable result,” he said. At Moravská Třebová, he flew an Extra Flugzeugbau EA300 SR.

The season is not over for Šonka. He will next compete in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship, held Sept. 3–4 at Lausitzring, Germany.

In addition to flying in competition, Šonka, born in 1978 in Dvůr Králové nad Labem, is a fighter pilot in the Czech Air Force, having started his career there in 2000. In 2006 he began flying L-159 Alca. In the Air Force, he also flies a supersonic Gripen JAS-39 fighter jet.

He became a member of the Czech national aerobatic team in 2005 and originally flew an Su-31 before switching to the Extra 300SR. He has flown for Red Bull since the 2010 season.

Martin Šonka
Red Bull Air Race

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