HIGH-FLIER Tom Cassells has his head in the clouds after a soaraway success in the world aerobatics championships.

The 46-year-old was the highest placed British flier in the competition, repeating his achievement in last year's European championships.

His placing in last month's world championships, in France, means he is the first flier to win the Len Parry Trophy, for the top British pilot in an international event, on two occasions.

Mr Cassells, who flies a Cap 232 single-seater plane out of Bagby Airfield, near Thirsk, North Yorkshire, took up flying in 1983, but only started on aerobatics in 1993.

The sport involves completing a series of precisely controlled manoeuvres, including rolls, stalls, loops and spins, within a specific area of airspace.

Competitors lose marks for failing to carry out the stunt correctly, or for straying outside the limits.

The aerobatics manoeuvres put the aircraft at speeds from 400km an hour to less than 100km an hour when free-falling backwards.

The pilots have to withstand pressures of up to ten times the force of gravity, with upside-down stunts producing a force of minus seven Gs, pushing the pilot out of his seat.

Mr Cassells, managing director of Boroughbridge firm Reed Boardall Transport, said: "Aerobatics is great fun, but it is the control of your aircraft which is the real challenge.

"You have got to reproduce a flight that is faultless under extreme pressure and be able to control your emotions. It is a combination of motor racing and chess, and is the pinnacle of flying aeroplanes.