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Effen goes to the Red Bull Air Race

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It takes a lot of courage to race a plane.
Same goes for the spectators watching a few hundred feet below. That's putting your life on the line.

This past weekend, our friend and Loyal 77 member EffenIdontcare did just that. He traveled to San Diego for the Red Bull Air Races.

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I don't know much about air racing, but the name is a pretty good descriptor. So I asked Effen why he wanted to attend this event. His answer was simple, "Speed...These guys can come through the starting gate at up 230 mph! They are allowed to pull 12 g's!"

12 Gs sounds like a lot. And that's not just because I listen to a lot of hip-hop.
It's a number that makes my stomach churn a bit.
Imagine being there.

Effen says, 'The quickness in the movements of the plane to bank then level off, while going between the Air Gates, is unbelievable."

Damn, I'm jealous.

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Air Racing is a sport devised over the past few years as a way to showcase a pilots ability to maneuver at high speeds though a race course.
And sell Red Bull.
Obviously it requires focus, precision, and nerves of steel. Meaning, the pilots probably don't drink a highly caffeinated beverage before their run.

No extra adrenalin or Bull needed, in my view.

Now the races are held mainly over water, but also at airfields or natural wonders. Pilots are required to complete the course and fly between various gates following a predetermined race track configuration. Failure to do this correctly results in penalty seconds being added to their race time. Penalty seconds can be added for an incorrect passing of an Air Gate, incorrect passing through the chicane and for touching an air gate. (via Wikipedia)

Three different air 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.
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Who wins?
After a weekend of trials, qualifying and head to head races, pilots earn points. The fastest, most error free pilot on the last day wins some cash, a trophy and a case of the jitters.
I mean lots of Red Bull.

Sometimes errors are caused by the pilot.
Sometimes they are caused by birds. Like during this San Diego race, Austrian pilot Hannes Arch was in the lead but lost ground and stability when a pesky pelican punctured (say that 3 times Sylvester) a gaping hole in his plane.
The bird flipped Arch to a 3rd place finish.

The San Diego event was won by a Frenchman, Nicolas Ivanoff who had a superb run in the finals on Sunday. Former series Champ and American Mike Mangold had a bad weekend, finishing a disappointing 7th. Not that ruined things for the brave EffenIDontCare (he was rooting for Mike) or any of the 100,000+ fans in attendance.

Red Bull has the race all hooked up so you're a part of all the action. There's 2 large video screens on the ground. Each plane has a camera mounted on the tail facing forward and a camera in the cockpit facing the pilot. The pilots also have body mics so you can hear whatever they say after they crossed the finish line. Helicopters are also hovering over the race course and there's cameras atop buildings for a wide view of the entire track.

Basically no one on the ground misses a moment. So it's a cool fan experience. One we're happy Effen enjoyed, and survived. (Thanks for supplying the photos too.)

Now, perhaps in the comments we can hear about what went on between races.
At night. When Red Bull mixes with vodka.
Something tells me nothing involved wearing a pink shirt and driving around in a Mini.

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4 Comments

Man, I almost went to a Red Bull Air Race when I was living in Rio. I can't remember why didn't I go, but even now I'm sad because I couldn't go.

I watched on TV but it's just not the same.

said Leonardo Carvalho on May 14, 2009 12:14 PM.

Leo, hop a plane to here...

http://www.redbullairrace.com/races.php?id=5&subpage=5&lang=en

said Baierman on May 14, 2009 4:49 PM.

That's Portugal... far away across the ocean.

said Leonardo Carvalho on May 14, 2009 4:56 PM.

Common, Leo. I flew half-way across the US of A....how big is an ocean!

I think the L77 should plan a rendezvous next year and swarm San Diego with all the wisdom and good wit from YBNBY. I just bet, President Dave, would buy the first round!

said EffenIdontcare on May 14, 2009 9:33 PM.
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