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…
M – Moving air: An aeroplane flies by ‘moving air’. The propeller will move air so the aeroplane flies forwards… the wings will move air so the aeroplane is suspended above the ground. As the aeroplane uses the air, any control movement needs to be graceful and smooth.
N – Newcomers: I loved the skill-set shown by the two newcomers in Abu Dhabi; Cristian Bolton and Mikael Brageot. Their consistency was amazing given their limited experience in the Masters. I think there is much more to come from these two, especially when Cristian has got his aeroplane modified fully for racing.
O – Outright champion: To become a world champion, you have to ensure that a whole range of factors are completed or achieved to the tiniest of detail. Picking a winner at this stage is tough but consistency is the key.
P – Precision: You need precision and discipline – it is a misnomer that to fly fast you have to be on the attack. To fly fast you must have calculated the very best lines and then fly that to the millimetre. The plan has to be precise and the plan must be flown to perfection. No mistakes.
Q – Qualification: Qualification takes place the day before race day, with two sessions and the best time counts. Martin Sonka won both qualifying and the race in UAE. I think the last pilot to do that was me!