Eighteen NYUAD students traveled to Abu Dhabi's neighboring city of Al Ain last week to watch seven planes battle it out for top prize in the Al Ain Aerobatic Show's Desert Challenge, which showcased teams from all over the world, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Chani Gatto, NYUAD Class of 2014, appreciated the diversity. "It is nice to see so many countries represented. It is kind of like NYU Abu Dhabi in a sense!"
While the Desert Challenge competitors flew their four-minute, death-defying programs solo, their team members also entertained the crowd by performing stunts and flying in formation, sometimes getting as close as a meter away from another plane.
NYUAD students also got the opportunity to meet Ian Thompson, team manager and one of the pilots from the UK's Team Viper — the only display team in the world to fly Hawker Hunter jets — during his campus visit earlier in the week. While Thompson gave an interactive lecture and took questions from students, he also shared a bit of his own flying story.
Although he has been flying since he was 16, "It took him 18 years to become a pilot for Team Viper, so the main point of his lecture was to dream big, and never give up on your dream," said Gatto. "He was very inspirational, whether you are interested in flying or not." And indeed, Gatto, a film major, has a vested interest in flying: she dreams to one day fly helicopters for the United Nations.
So did the Al Ain Aerobatic show live up to Gatto's expectations? "Absolutely!" she exclaimed. "It was higher, faster, louder, and crazier than I imagined. I was very impressed!"