Stork trouble for high-flying show

Organisers of one of Europe’s biggest flying events are worried that a swarm of storks could endanger pilots and crowds.Airpower 2011 officials confirmed today (Fri) they were desperately trying to find a way to lure the 25 animals away from the military airport in Zeltweg, Styria, to get the event underway without any complications on 1 and 2 July. They explained the long-necked birds could be sucked into the jets’ engines or smash into their cockpits. Several incidents of that kind have occurred over the world in past years.Organisers explained that the safety at previous editions of the event was ensured as a significantly lower number of storks were nesting in the area. Now they are in talks with local politicians, animal activists and farmers who own land in the vicinity to agree what could be done about the current population of around 25.Airpower officials said one option was trying to lure them away with baits, luscious feeding grounds and plastic storks. They added that setting up scarecrows at the airport was another alternative under consideration. Animal experts explained that the key problem was that the birds find more and better food at the aerodrome than anywhere else in the region.The federal defence ministry – which is organising the event tipped to draw up to 300,000 fans – emphasised that shooting the storks was not an option.The four-million-Euro show – which will feature various spectacular training flight demonstrations and parachute jumping stunts – did not take place due to a lack of funds last year. Around 280,000 people attended the 2009 edition of the free-of-charge event in 2009.Social Democratic (SPÖ) Defence and Sport Minister Norbert Darabos announced last year that the Airpower show will come back this year thanks to financial support from Red Bull. The energy drink producer acts as its main sponsor. The company owned by billionaire businessman Dietrich Mateschitz reopened the former A1 racing ring only a few weeks ago. The track – located just a few kilometres from the airport where the Airpower 2011 event will be staged – is now named Red Bull Ring. The most recent Formula One (F1) race took place at the site in 2003. Rumours have it that the F1 action may soon return to Austria owing to the strong ties between Mateschitz and decision-makers of the popular car racing competition.