The Red Bull Air Race is an exciting competition in which the world’s most talented pilots are up against each other in a race based on speed, precision and skill.
The competition features a dynamic new discipline of flying, called ‘air racing’ where the objective is to navigate a challenging race course in the sky, in the fastest possible time. Flying individually against the clock, the pilots have to execute tight turns through a slalom course consisting of specially designed pylons, known as ‘Air Gates’.
The Air Race is not just about speed – precision is crucial to success because any mistakes incur penalty points which are then added to the pilot’s time. Flying low to the ground at speeds that can reach over 400kph, while attempting difficult turning maneuvers, requires immense skill that only a certain number of pilots in the world possess. That is why the pilots are hand selected based upon their expertise and experience. These pilots are at the top of their game. They have to be – the Air Race exerts huge demands on their flying abilities and they have to withstand forces of up to 10G. There is no room for error.
What makes the Air Race so exciting and interesting for spectators is the proximity of the contest to the crowds. Low level flying on a relatively compact course means that people can really experience all the action close-up.
The idea of the Air Race was conceived in the Red Bull sports think tank. The very first Red Bull Air Race took place at AirPower in Zeltweg, Austria in 2003 and was hailed a great success. It was clear that there was a huge potential for the competition. Subsequent Air Races were then held in Hungary, England and the USA and since then it has evolved into its current format, the Red Bull Air Race World Series.
The first World Series kicked off in 2005, taking place in seven venues across the world with ten internationally acclaimed pilots competing. Eleven pilots took part in eight races in the 2006 World Series where American, Kirby Chambliss was crowned World Champion at the final in Perth, Australia.
This year, the 2006 competitors will be joined by three new pilots and will take to the skies in twelve races worldwide.
‘Air races’ have their roots in the US but unlike those contests where the objective was purely about speed, the Red Bull Air Race brings another dimension into the challenge – skill. The pilots are using some of the lightest, agile and most responsive planes that exist, but ultimately it’s the pilot’s stamina and skill that determines who will be crowned the next Red Bull Air Race World Series champion.
Abu Dhabi, which translates literally as “Father of the Gazelle”, is the capital city of the United Arab Emirates and the largest of the seven emirates which make up the country. In 1760, Bani Yas (a nomadic tribe) discovered water on the island of Abu Dhabi and constructed their first township there. It remained a small fishing village until the discovery of oil in 1958. This thriving city is now considered one of the most modern in the world, bringing together old world charm and cosmopolitan sophistication. With year-round sunshine, miles of unspoiled beaches, rugged mountain scenery, lush green oases and a bustling, dynamic centre with spectacular architecture, Abu Dhabi attracts many visitors each year.
• Capital of the United Arab Emirates
• Population: 1.6 million
• Longitude/Latitude: 54° 25′ E / 24° 28′ N
• Timezone: GST (Gulf Standard Time. GMT: +4:00 hours)
• Temperatures for the scheduled race time: 35° C (95° F)
• Monthly rainfall for the scheduled race time: 7 mm
• Air Race history: Peter Besenyei won in 2005, Kirby Chambliss won in 2006
“Smoke on” with new pilots and exotic race location
New venues, new pilots, new race format. The Red Bull Air Race World Series switches to a higher gear in 2007. Twelve instead of eight races, including Rio and San Diego, fourteen instead of eleven pilots and a knockout final will top last year’s sensational success.
Six million spectators at eight races in 2006, dramatic high-speed, low-level flying through air gates – this brand new motor sport has developed incredibly in the past two years and exceeded all expectations. The pace will continue in 2007 by extending the World Series to twelve international races. Among the new venues will be the famous Botafuogo Beach at the foot of Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio, Interlaken in Switzerland against the backdrop of the spectacular Eiger, Moench and Jungfrau mountains, and San Diego, California, where the planes are set to take off from an aircraft carrier.
Three new pilots will challenge the Air Race’s highflying stars, led by American world champions Mike Mangold (2005) and Kirby Chambliss (2006). Hannes Arch (Austria), Glen Dell (South Africa) and Sergei Rakhmanin (Russia) qualified for this year’s series at a “Rookie Camp” held in the desert of Arizona last year.
The new ‘knockout’ final will offer more thrills for spectators: pilots will compete against each other and the fastest will make it through to the next round.
Already a tradition, the race where pilots fly at more than 400 km/h and face forces of 10G, takes off in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates on 6 April. Immediately afterwards the team of around 250 people from 17 countries will set off to Rio de Janeiro, where the second race takes place on 21 April.