The UK’s Royal Aero Club has said “there is definitely no proposal” to withdraw from the FAI, following a post on the British Hang and Paragliding Facebook page.
A spokesman for the Royal Aero Club, said: “The RAeC confirms that there is no proposal for the UK to withdraw from the FAI.”
A post on the British Hang and Paragliding Association Facebook page had caused alarm among UK competition pilots when it suggested the Royal Aero Club, which is the umbrella organisation for air sports including hang gliding and paragliding in the UK, was actively discussing pulling out of the FAI.
The FAI is the World Air Sports Federation. Based in Switzerland it sanctions competitions around the world, including European and World Championships. At a minimum, withdrawing from the FAI would exclude British pilots from taking part in these competitions.
The BHPA Facebook post, posted on Tuesday 11 April said: “Royal Aero Club is debating whether to withdraw from FAI on the basis of financial mismanagement and waste of our substantial annual contribution. What are your thoughts?”
Posting below the question Gordon Rigg, one of the UK’s best competition hang glider pilots, said “it would be an absolute disaster”.
Guy Anderson, who won a silver medal at the FAI Paragliding World Championships in Italy last year said: “It seems pretty strange that the RAeC is not consulting members it represents about taking such a fundamental decision that would affect many … Please can we have the facts before a decision is made for us.”
The RAeC said today: “The RAeC confirms that there is no proposal for the UK to withdraw from the FAI.”
The spokesman added: “The RAeC does not generally comment on the social media postings of its member associations. However, we can confirm that the RAeC did meet to discuss its ongoing relationship with the FAI and a range of possible outcomes were debated. However we confirm that there is definitely no proposal to withdraw.”
The FAI has an annual budget of around 1.2m CHF (€1m) a year. Founded in 1905 it sanctions competitions and approves records in many different air sport disciplines, including hang gliding, paramotoring and paragliding. In recent years it has focused time, energy and money on developing multi-discipline air sports events, like the FAI World Air Games held in Dubai in 2015.
The Royal Aero Club paid 44,800 Swiss Francs (£33,800) in subscription fees to the FAI last year. This money is in turn collected from its own member associations. There are 12 full members of the RAeC, covering air sports including micro lighting, gliding, parachuting, ballooning, model flying and hang gliding and paragliding. About half of the annual subscription that each UK Association pays to the RAeC is paid out directly to the FAI.
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