Planes travel at top speeds of 370km/h, the pilots at the controls endure forces of up to 12G, and, according to the most successful pilot in Red Bull Air Race history, it “requires nerves of steel to win”.
Still no slouch in the cockpit, here’s his A to Z of all you need to know as the pilots battle it out to be champion of the skies in 2017…
A – Aggressive flying: In the ideal world, a race run should be flown in a smooth flowing style. If a pilot is unnecessarily aggressive or abrupt on the controls, it will mean an additional control deflection or high angles of attack into the airflow which will result in too much drag. Drag will slow you down.
B – Behind the aeroplane: When the pilot is not thinking ahead or “behind the aeroplane”, it will need sharper turns and a more aggressive style to get around the track. It might look faster and more exciting but every time the pilot moves the controls into the air unnecessarily it will slow down the lap time.
C – Chicane: The chicane is hopefully a smooth flowing series of turns through the three single pylons. The style through here will tell you a lot about the pilots planning. If it looks smooth, they are ahead of the aircraft, if it looks messy, the pilot will be struggling.
D – Matthias Dolderer: The defending champion Matthias Dolderer will be disappointed with his opening round in Abu Dhabi but he’ll bounce back. His aeroplane with him in tune is still a race winner. Arguably, this is a good result for him as it will stop any complacency growing from his excellent year in 2016.