Silent, and seemingly in slow motion, two gliders swoop past. The sun flashes off the wings. Then, suddenly, smoke shoots from the wings and the two gliders plunge into a steep dive. Music plays, the aerobatic show of Andi and Tim Schaerer begins. That there are no pilots sitting under the perspex domes of the cockpits is plain for all to see. Both of the controllers stand with both feet on the ground, fully concentrated on their aircraft, which loop and roll in perfect synchronicity, flying at 500m above sea level - so close together that the wing tips appear to be touching.
Andi and Tim Schaerer are father and son, competitors in individual events and a team at airshows. Tim Schaerer is one of the best pilots in the world, and his father, Andi, doesn't usually end up far behind him. They both fly model Swift S1 gliders which, even on the ground, look like they might be able to carry a passanger with their 5.8m wingspan. Only the lightweight nature of the planes, which tip the scales at just 20kg, makes it clear that these are scale replicas of the Polish-made single-seater gliders of the same name.
At 30-40kph the model Swift takes off, pulled by a tow plane. In a swoop they accelerate to 240kph. One wrong move at this speed would tear the aircraft apart. It would be an expensive mistake. The Schaerers' models each cost as much as a small car. "Three, two, one, go!", commands Andi and Tim pulls his aircraft up into the loop at the same time. The deeper into the display they get, the closer their gliders get together, whether upside down or in a roll. Even during landing they are separated by only a few metres. The first rule of the display is always "safety first" though – the audience is always at a safe distance.