Apr 29 2008
I am so excited to be able to attend this years RED BULL AIR RACE WORLD SERIES. If you ever have the oppurtunity to attend - it is a MUST!
The Red Bull Air Race World Series, established in 2003 and created by Red Bull, is an international series of air races in which competitors have to navigate a challenging obstacle course in the sky in the fastest possible time. Pilots fly individually against the clock and have to complete tight turns through a slalom course consisting of specially designed pylons, known as “air gates”.
The races are held mainly over water near cities, but also at airfields or natural wonders. They are accompanied by a supporting program of show flights. Races are usually flown on weekends with the first day for qualification then finals the day after. The events generally attract large crowds and are broadcast, both live and taped, in many nations.
At each venue, the top nine places earn World Series points. The air racer with the most points at the end of the series becomes Red Bull Air Race world champion. The 2005, 2006 and 2007 series were won respectively by the American pilots Mike Mangold, Kirby Chambliss and Mangold again.
In earlier seasons, 2005 and 2006, pilots first ran two qualifying rounds to determine starting order, with the fastest time starting last. The race was then run over two rounds, and the combined time of both rounds determines the winner. Starting in 2007, a new knock-out format was introduced which was modified for 2008.
During the first day, pilots run two training rounds then two qualification rounds. The times of the last training session determine flight order for both qualifying rounds, slowest racing first. The best time from either qualifying run counts. Twelve pilots with the fastest times continue on to race the second day. The lowest four who made it through qualifying race for ninth place and one World Series point in the aptly named “Point One” round. The top eight, or “Super Eights” are seeded based on qualification times then race head-to-head. Winners from the Super Eight round race again in the semifinals while losers are ranked 5th through 8th based on their time. From the semifinals, the pilots either head to the final to determine the winner and runner-up, or to the consolation final to settle third and fourth places.
Based on the pilot’s place at each event, World Series points are awarded. First place receives nine points, second place receives eight, on through ninth who receives one. The pilot with the most points after the final event in the season is the Red Bull Air Race World Series Champion.
The rules are simple, pilots must pass through each of the air gates correctly while completing the required aerobatic manoeuvre. Three different gate types require a specific manner of crossing. Blue gates must be crossed in level flight, red gates must be crossed in “knife-edge” or vertical flight, and the slalom gates as their name implies.
Penalties are incurred for violations of the rules.
- Incorrect passing of a gate
- Too high
- Incorrect level (horizontal) crossing or knife (vertical) angle
- Incorrect knife direction
- Incorrect turning manoeuvre
10 seconds penalty
- Touching a gate
- Dangerous flying
- Any form of dangerous flying
- Flying too low
- Crossing the crowd line
- Not flying the course
- Course deviation
- Not executing prescribed aerobatic manoeuvre
The series has begun to see competitors develop enhanced versions of their aircraft to better performance, and thus times. For example, Michael Goulian is flying a modified Extra which uses lighter composites and a more highly tuned Lycoming engine. However, the safety implications of engine or airframe failures mean that performance tuning by individual teams, as is commonly done in other motorsport events, is limited in scope in the series.