Vucano Market - US Navy Blue Angels Towels (Officially Licensed)
Vucano Market - US Navy Blue Angels Towels (Officially Licensed)

Red Bull Air Race: San Diego – Muroya Emerges Victorious In 2017

posted in: Aerobatics, Air Racing, Event Recap | 0

Red Bull Air Race World Championship - San Diego 2017

In mid-April, the famed Red Bull Air Race World Championship returned to San Diego, California. Racers from all over the world descended on Browns Field and San Diego Bay for a chance to claim a win in the second race of the 2017 season. For many, the weeekend would be filled with one upset after another as pilots broke in new aircraft and faced fierce competition.

History of Red Bull Air Race World Championship

Created in 2003, the Red Bull Air Race World Championship celebrated its landmark 75th race at the 2017 season opener in Abu Dhabi back in February. The Red Bull Air Race World Championship features the world’s best aerobatic race pilots in a pure motorsport competition that combines speed, precision, and skill. Using the fastest, most agile, and lightweight racing planes, pilots hit speeds of 230 mph while enduring forces of up to 10G as they navigate a low-level slalom track marked by 82-foot-high, air-filled pylons. From 2011-2013, the annual races were on hold as new safety improvements were put into place. In 2014, the Challenger Cup was conceived to help the next generation of pilots develop the skills needed for potential advancement to the Master Class that vies for the World Championship.

Red Bull Air Race World Championship - San Diego 2017 - Breitling MXS-R - Mikael BrageotRed Bull Air Race World Championship - San Diego 2017 - Nicolas Ivanoff - Edge 540 V2

Race Format

Typically flown on weekends, the event begins with a training day where pilots are required to fly two training flights through the course before the knock-out style races begin. This not only gives the pilots an introduction to what flying the course will be like, but the times set by each racer in the last training session determine the order in which they will fly during the qualifying races the following day,a sort of pre-qualifying. The order begins with the slowest pilot and ends with the fastest.

In qualifying, the racers are given two flying sessions to place for the finals. The best overall time of the two sessions is counted towards Race Day.

On race day, all racers go through another two sessions and the times from those determine the 14th through 9th placings. The remaining eight top placing racers then advance to the finals the next day.

The finals begin with the Round of Eight that determines the 8th through 5th placings. The four fastest racers then go on to duel for the 4th through 1st positions.

At the end of each race event, Championship Points are awarded to the pilots based on their placings as such:

  • 1st – 15 points
  • 2nd – 12 points
  • 3rd – 9 points
  • 4th – 7 points
  • 5th – 6 points
  • 6th – 5 points
  • 7th – 4 points
  • 8th – 3 points
  • 9th – 2 points
  • 10th – 1 points
  • 11th – 0 points
  • 12th – 0 points
  • 13th – 0 points
  • 14th – 0 points

Red Bull describes the race course setup in this way:

As many of the stops on the World Championship calendar are classed as exotic, pilots often have to battle against the elements, with extreme heats, shifting winds and harsh storms always a possibility. As a result, no two Red Bull Air Races are ever the same.

On average, the racetracks measure approximately 6km in length and are marked by race-bespoke Air Gates. The unique inflatable pylons, which form the Air Gates and define the racetrack, were first developed in 2002 and have evolved year-on-year into the sophisticated design currently used.

When the track is designed it consists of the Start/Finish Gate, three or four two-pylon gates, which the pilots have to fly straight and level between and a chicane that comprises of three individual pylons that pilots will have to bank around. At one end of the course a Vertical Turning Maneuver is included. This is where the pilots have to fly through the gate, then turn as quickly and efficiently as possible without pulling more than 10G in their raceplane and then fly towards the next gate. On average there will be five straight and level gates (where up to two could be for Vertical Turning Maneuvers) and a three-pylon chicane.

Deviations from these requirements result in time penalties of varying severity. More serious infractions result in Did Not Finish (DNF) or disqualified (DQ) scores. Penalties are categorized as:

One Second Penalty

  • Insufficient/no smoke

Two Second Penalty

  • Flying too high, through or over an Air Gate
  • Incorrect level (at an angle) crossing through an Air Gate

Three Second Penalty

  • Hitting a gate (1st time)
  • Hitting a gate (2nd time)

Did Not Finish

  • Deviating from course
  • Exceeding 200 knots (370 km/h; 230 mph) when crossing the Start Gate
  • Aircraft weight below 698 kilograms (1,539 lb) after the race
  • Exceeding 10G for more than 0.6 seconds
  • Exceeding maximum load factor of 12G
  • Hitting a gate (3rd time)

Disqualification

  • Uncontrolled movements or flight
  • Close to ground pull-up from descent
  • Crossing safety line
  • Negative G-turn around a pylon
  • Flying below 49 ft. (15 m.) between Air Gates
  • Flying into clouds
  • Entering course at an angle exceeding 45 degrees
  • Ignoring Race Director commands
Red Bull Air Race World Championship San Diego 2017 Matt Hall Edge 540 V3Red Bull Air Race World Championship San Diego 2017 Edge 540 V2 Cristian Bolton

San Diego Races

More than 20,000 spectators lined San Diego Bay on Saturday, April 15 as the reigning Red Bull Air Race World Champion battled with two fierce opponents – the man who currently leads the standings and an American in his home race ­– for the top spot in qualifying at the second stop of 2017. As the pilots raced at speeds of 230mph, American Michael Goulian (58.978) was right on the tail of defending titleholder Matthias Dolderer of Germany, who came out on top with a time of 58.332. Czech Republic’s Martin Šonka (58.980) finished in third. In the Challenger Class, one of the youngest pilots in the history of Red Bull Air Race, American Kevin Coleman, topped the timesheet at 1:09.905.

Dolderer was the dominant force of the 2016 season, winning the second stop of the year and going on to clinch the championship even before the season finale. But it was Šonka who claimed the race win at the 2017 season opener in Abu Dhabi to put himself at the head of the overall standings for the first time in his career. Goulian, whose last win was in 2009, seems to be flying with renewed confidence this season. Another American, two-time titleholder Kirby Chambliss, was sixth in San Diego qualifying.

On Sunday April 16, the final races took place and one upset followed another. Yoshihide “Yoshi” Muroya of Japan was the only pilot with the consistency to reach the top of the podium with a time of 58.529. Peter Podlunšek from Slovenia stunned the field in capturing second place in his first-ever Final 4, two seconds behind Muroya at 1:00.454. Dolderer was third after a pylon hit, and American Kirby Chambliss finished fourth.

Earning 15 World Championship points with the victory, Muroya jumped up 10 places in the overall standings, to third behind Šonka (21 points) and Dolderer (16). The result was especially meaningful because the next stop of the season is in Muroya’s home skies of Chiba, Japan – where he earned his first Red Bull Air Race win in 2016.

“I’m quite happy. We had a very hard time at the season opener in Abu Dhabi, and we’ve been working really hard for months,” said Muroya, who had an over-G penalty at the 2017 kickoff. “My crew and my family have been helping a lot to help us get more stable and consistent, and I thank them. The next race in Japan is going to be a big one, and it’s an important step forward to win here as I head to my home country. It’s a huge crowd and pressure for me, but I will have fun there.”

In the day’s earlier action, 2016 Challenger Cup winner Florian Bergér of Germany earned his first Challenger Class win of the season.

The rankings following the San Diego races are as follows:

Master Class

Challenger Class

Tickets for the 2017 Red Bull Air Race World Championship – including the third stop, an exciting return to Chiba, Japan on 3-4 June, are on sale now. For more information on tickets and all the latest, visit www.redbullairrace.com.

We at AirshowStuff would like to thank Lora Bodmer of Deep Communications for Red Bull in San Diego for allowing us to cover these exciting races and Red Bull GmbH for putting on this incredible series year after year!

Red Bull Air Race World Championship - San Diego 2017 - Trophy

WATCH: Patrouille de France Performs In The US For The First Time In Decades

The Patrouille de France performed the first airshow routine of their North American tour this past weekend, and we were there to capture it! Check out this video of their entire show on the Friday practice day at the Melbourne Air and Space Show in Florida. Melbourne is one of just a handful of stops the team will make on their whirlwind tour through the US and Canada this month, and marks the first US performance by the team in more than 30 years.

The routine is a little shorter than those of the US Navy Blue Angels and US Air Force Thunderbirds, but contains all of the same exciting elements – formation aerobatics, opposing flybys, and nonstop action. Because the Patrouille perform with eight jets instead of six, they can put together some larger formations and utilize multiple groups of aircraft in a similar fashion to the Canadian Forces Snowbirds, who perform with nine CT-114 Tutors. The French team also makes use of red- and blue-colored smoke, which might not sound like much but adds to the performance significantly and is a rare sight here in the US.

Patrouille de France US Tour 2017French Air Force Airbus A400M - Patrouille de France US Tour 2017

As a special treat, the team’s Airbus A400M Atlas support aircraft also took to the skies for a few flybys. It is accompanying the team all throughout their tour to transport their crew and equipment, and can also serve as a photo platform during their planned flyovers of US landmarks, such as the Statue of Liberty and New York City. This marked the first ever airshow performance by an A400M in the US and although it is far from the maximum performance company demonstration, it was an exciting addition to the lineup! You can check it out in the video below.

Enjoy Nearly Six Hours Of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh Action With This Mega-Compilation Video!

That’s right, our annual EAA AirVenture Oshkosh mega-compilation video is up, and this year it is nearly six hours long! This video combines all of our ground footage from the show into one long masterpiece, sure to please any aviation fan. The videos are in roughly sequential order, so you start out with the chaos of mass aircraft arrivals on the Sunday before the show. As the week progresses you’ll see more arrivals, portions of the airshow, and then mass departures as everyone reluctantly bids Wittman Regional Airport farewell and heads home.

Airshow performances include the US Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon demonstration team, the USAF Heritage Flight, the US Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet demonstration, the arrival of the Canadian Forces Snowbirds, a Martin Mars water drop, the final Oshkosh appearance of USAF F-4 Phantom IIs, flybys from a USAF U-2 Dragon Lady, F-15 Eagle, and A-10 Warthogs, massive warbird formations and exciting flybys, the Tora! Tora! Tora! Pearl Harbor reenactment, the arrival and departure of a massive C-5M Super Galaxy, the Oshkosh seaplane base on Lake Winnebago, a maximum performance departure of the Cathay-Pacific 747-8 freighter “Hong Kong Trader”, and much more!

Find a comfortable chair and settle in to watch the video above! You can also view each video individually, as well as special on-board videos from the show, using our EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2016 video playlist. Enjoy!

Heavy Bombers Weekend 2016 – Janesville, WI

B-17 Flying Fortress - Heavy Bombers Weekend 2016

View the full photo gallery: Heavy Bombers Weekend 2016 – Janesville, WI – Ryan Sundheimer

The 2016 edition of Heavy Bombers Weekend was held at the Southwest Wisconsin Regional Airport in Janesville, WI. The fly-in is a popular stop for warbirds traveling to the EAA AirVenture airshow in Oshkosh. Even on the opening day of the event, many different aircraft were on hand to take passengers for rides, including EAA’s B-17 Flying Fortress “Aluminum Overcast”, the Commemorative Air Force’s B-29 Superfortress “FIFI”, and the P-51 Mustang “Gunfighter”. Ground tours were included in the price of admission, giving all of the attendees a chance to touch and feel history. The event plans to shift back to its previous home in Madison, WI in 2017 and alternate between the two airports each year.

Check out our coverage of the 2015 Heavy Bombers Weekend as well!

New Photo Album – Waukesha Gathering Of Warbirds 2016

posted in: AirshowStuff, Event Recap, Warbirds | 0

MiG-17 Fresco - Afterburner Takeoff

A new album is now available in our photo gallery! Check it out here: Gathering of Warbirds 2016 – Waukesha, WI – Ryan Sundheimer

The 2016 Gathering of Warbirds in Waukesha, WI brought together many different warbirds for a public open house. The warbirds included a P-40 Warhawk, P-51 Mustang, MiG-17 Fresco, T-37 Tweet, T-28 Trojan, De Havilland Chipmunk, T-34 Mentor, two F-86 Sabres, and more. A C-130 Hercules and King Air from the Royal Canadian Air Force were also on display.

New Photo Album – Cleveland National Airshow 2016

posted in: Airshows, AirshowStuff, Event Recap | 1

Cleveland National Airshow 2016 - E-2 Hawkeye and A-10 Warthog

A new album is now available in our photo gallery! Check it out here: Cleveland National Airshow 2016 – Ryan Sundheimer

The 2016 Cleveland National Airshow, featured the US Navy Blue Angels, USAF F-22 Raptor, USAF F-35 Lightning II, Redline Airshows, the Shockwave jet truck, vintage warbirds, and more.

New Photo Album – Thunder Over Michigan 2016

posted in: Airshows, AirshowStuff, Event Recap | 0

AH-1 Cobras - Thunder Over Michigan 2016

A new album is now available in our photo gallery! Check it out here: Thunder Over Michigan 2016 – Ryan Sundheimer

The 2016 Thunder Over Michigan Airshow, organized to support the Yankee Air Museum, featured the USAF F-22 Raptor, Breitling Jet Team, US Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet, helicopters, vintage warbirds, and more.

New Photo Albums – Spirit of St Louis Airshow 2016

posted in: Airshows, AirshowStuff, Event Recap | 0

Two new albums are now available in our photo gallery! Check them out here:

Spirit of St Louis Airshow 2016 – David Jacobson
US Navy Blue Angels - Fat Albert - Spirit of St Louis Airshow 2016

Spirit of St Louis Airshow 2016 – Anthony Richards
B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber - Spirit of St Louis Airshow 2016

New Photo Album – Abbotsford International Airshow 2016

posted in: Airshows, AirshowStuff, Event Recap | 0

Breitling Jet Team - Abbotsford International Airshow 2016

A new album is now available in our photo gallery! Check it out here: Abbotsford International Airshow 2016 – Anthony Richards

The 2016 Abbotsford International Airshow featured the Canadian Forces Snowbirds, Breitling Jet Team, the first Canadian appearance of the F-35 Lightning II, the CF-18 Hornet demonstration, and more.

New Photo Album – Battle Creek Airshow 2016

posted in: Airshows, AirshowStuff, Event Recap | 0

USAF Thunderbirds - Battle Creek Airshow 2016

A new album is now available in our photo gallery! Check it out here: Battle Creek Airshow 2016 – Ryan Sundheimer

The 2016 Battle Creek Field of Flight Airshow and Balloon Festival featured the USAF Thunderbirds, Hoppers Jet Team, Matt Younkin, Rob Holland, and more. For more coverage of the show, take a look at our earlier blog post.

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