The 42nd Coupe Icare started with a bang on Thursday as thunder, lightning and wind blew in, bringing torrential rain and 100km/h gusts.
The result was the near destruction of the main cinema tent on the South Launch, and substantial damage to one of the main trade marquees.
Despite a brief respite that allowed some lucky free fliers to get in the air on the afternoon, the weather again turned to rain for Friday morning, dampening the spirits of those who had turned up to camp.
However, organisers say the rain is forecast to stop for the rest of the weekend, allowing the festival to take place as normal. The film festival on Thursday evening was moved to an indoor venue 2km from St Hilaire, and the Friday morning film showings were cancelled.
The company that rents the marquees was on site and working on fixing the damaged tents, with a promise that the Friday evening film shows would take place as planned.
Once back on track the Coupe Icare programme promises to see more than 700 display pilots from 18 light aviation disciplines perform over the weekend.
Paragliders, hang gliders, paramotoris, kites, boomerangs and birds of prey are all represented. Hot air balloons, paper balloons, model saiplanes, wingsuiters, sky-divers, vintage planes and aerobatic displays are all scheduled.
Highlights will include the reconstruction of the first ever paraglider flight 50 years ago by David Barish – Francis Heilmann, an expert parachutist, will launch a scale model of Barish’s famous wing during the festival.
Hang glider pioneer Bill Moyes is the festival Guest of Honour. Icarobatix will again take over the paramotoring field with slalom flying displays. And a giant Obelix-shaped hot air balloon will rise up from the valley below when the weather allows on Saturday and Sunday morning.
In the film festival, the UK’s Kendal Mountain Festival has been welcomed as partner and guest of honour. Kendal director Steve Scott will be presenting a selection of films on the Saturday afternoon.
Saturday and Sunday will also see the highlight of the festival – the famous masquerade launch, where dozens of pilots take off in elaborate fancy dress.
With over 1,000 volunteers and an expected 80-100,000 visitors the Coupe Icare is bigger than ever. If the weather clears up, it should be quite a show.
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