Tuesday, March 1, 2005
A New Kind Of Air Racing
Red Bull has combined low-level aerobatics through a slalom course of pylons to give birth to an exciting new type of in-your-face race—all in the backdrop of Reno, Nevada!
Reno 2004: The single red and blue airplane comes screaming downhill from 1,000 feet toward the twin pylons, passes through the center of the short gap between them and starts the race. Then, inexplicably, the airplane does an 8 G pull up to vertical, rolls past a wingover to inverted and dives straight back down toward the ground. It’s called the Red Bull Air Race, and it’s a type of competition no one in the U.S. has seen before." />
“Most of us don’t worry too much about the danger of Red Bull racing. We’re too busy concentrating on getting through the course. But we’re flying so close to the ground that there’s practically no room for any mistake. Perhaps surprisingly, the most dangerous maneuver we do is one of the slowest, the touch-and-go landing following the 11⁄4 vertical roll-up,” comments Kirby Chambliss. “You’re coming steeply downhill from 500 feet with a high rate of descent in a fully cross-controlled slip with power practically at idle. You need to arrest that sink rate just right to touch the target at exactly the right speed. Touch down too fast or too hard, and you could damage the landing gear or possibly even wipe out the airplane. On the other hand, let the airplane decelerate to a comfortable landing speed to assure hitting the target zone, and you’ll lose time.”
The field at Reno last year included Chambliss and Besenyei plus Amer-ican acro experts Mike Goulian, Dave Martin and Mike Mangold, Brits Paul Bonhomme and Steve Jones, and German Klaus Schrodt. In addition to a trio of Edge 540s, a pair of Russian Sukhois, two French CAP 232s and a German Extra 300 participated in the Reno Red Bull event.
When the final race times were tallied at Reno, former Air Force Academy graduate, as well as F-4 Phantom fighter pilot and current American Airlines 767 captain Mike Mangold was the winner. Like most of his fellow racers, Mangold is an aerobatic champion and an avid sky diver as well. Mangold finished nine seconds in front of Chambliss, who had a series of time penalties. Air-show pilot Mike Goulian was third, and Peter Besenyei finished fourth. The Red Bull Air Race World Series was a major draw everywhere it appeared in 2003 and 2004, and the energy-drink sponsor promises that the 2005 racing schedule will be even more exciting.
For more information on the Red Bull Air Race, call (310) 460-5020 or log on to www.redbullairrace.com. Get really up close and personal with the Red Bull Air Race by visiting the Red Bull Copilot interactive Website at www.redbullcopilot.com.
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