The Coupe Icare 2020 is to have its wings clipped this year, because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The world’s biggest free-flight festival has decided to close its doors to the general public, and instead mount a smaller, “pilots only” long weekend.
Organisers said that uncertainty over what the rules, guidelines and regulations around mass gatherings will be in September forced their hand.
“Uncertainty about how the global Covid-19 pandemic will evolve has made it impossible to consider welcoming several tens of thousands of spectators from all around the world,” organisers said in a statement.
“An event of this size could not wait any longer to complete its planning. As the competent authorities are not able to supply any precise information at this stage, the organising committee decided not to open the event to the general public this autumn.”
Each year the Coupe Icare attracts around 100,000 spectators over four days. They come to watch the famous flying masquerade, and enjoy the festival atmosphere.
Now in its 47th year festival organisers had planned to move to an eight-day format this year, to accommodate the growing numbers of visitors, pilots and industry.
However, with the general public now no longer invited, the event will instead shrink to a smaller, four-day event “reserved for pilots and professionals of paragliding, hang-gliding, paramotoring, microlights and hot air balloons.”
The cut-down Coupe Icare will take place 17-20 September and will include a trade fair, the chance to test equipment during the day, and the film festival in the evening. It will not include the flying masquerade.