Aviation Sports Enter New Media Age

When Air Sports Live and the New Zealand Air Games take wing over Lake Wanaka on New Zealand's South Island at the end of December, it will showcase both aerial daring and the latest in television technology for covering aviation sports.
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When Air Sports Live and the New Zealand Air Games take wing over Lake Wanaka on New Zealand's South Island at the end of December, it will showcase both aerial daring and the latest in television technology for covering aviation sports.

The event, held 27–28 December, features 10 sports ranging from paragliding to sky diving, helicopters to hot air ballooning all beamed around the world via 112 cameras and a bevy of GPS, satellite and Internet technologies

"This is the first time air sports have been represented in this way", stated Peter Newport of Air Sports Ltd. "In simple terms, the in-cockpit camera feeds to a microwave transmitter strapped to the pilot sending a signal to ground that is caught by dish which goes into the outside broadcast truck. From there it gets sent to the big screen on site and the Internet streaming converter, which feeds via satellite into the World Wide Web in Germany which is main distribution point to the rest of the world".

In addition to cameras in the cockpits, on the racing planes and on helicopters and other chase aircraft, the event will make use of Virtual Eye gliding software, which Animation Research Ltd. developed for the 2006 New Zealand Gliding Grand Prix.

GPS location signals are sent from the gliding, hand gliding and paragliding craft via GPRS and satellite to the on-ground operations centre. The location data is then visualized through the Virtual Eye sports graphics package to create a life-like 3D representation of what is happening in the air.

A video about the animation and camera technology and its use is available on the Air Sports Live site, video.airsportslive.com, which will also start streaming coverage of the preliminary events and the games themselves starting yesterday, 19 December, with coverage of the FAI World GP Gliding Championship.

The New Zealand aviation event is part of a testing ground for these television technologies, which are expected to be used to cover the 2009 World Air Games in Torino, Italy, in June 2009.

"It is our aim to make the world's sports fans familiar with air sports before that date. That's why all this new media coverage is so important to us", stated Fédération Aéronautique Internationale President Pierre Portmann.

"We are very pleased that the latest technology can now be used to demonstrate the skill, precision and passion of our pilots and parachutists to a global Internet audience" Portmann stated.