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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Abu Dhabi Red Bull Air Races

One thing I have always wanted to see live is this event and I got to last weekend. Many times in the past, while channel surfing on a lazy afternoon I would discover coverage of this spectacle. I would lose track of the remote when this happened as I knew it would not be needed for the duration. My fate was set for the next few hours.

The series has a lot going for it. Bring together an elite group of the world's best stunt pilots, go to the most exotic locations on earth each month during the season and set up time trial courses which force the participants to negotiate a gauntlet of 60' tall inflatable pylons with such precision as to tax the skills of the most experienced pilots. The average age of the competitors is 47 with the oldest at 53. Something for us older guys to cheer about!

The fact that the race takes place on a tight course 50 feet above MSL (or AGL) means that it is a spectator's paradise. The venues are usually a famous body of water so there is usually plenty of attractive public spaces for the fans to spread out and relax in a pleasant atmosphere. The event is well organized and there were no long, boring breaks in the action.

In Abu Dhabi, six of us merely threw out a blanket on a grassy, date palm shaded area and enjoyed the fun. A video wall was within 150' of our location showing live, in-plane action  and the edge of the race course itself was only 300' away. It was all very civilized compared to some other sporting events where you are packed in like sardines rubbing elbows with the ubiquitous irritating lout you have the misfortune of being assigned a seat next to. Hot dogs, fries, ice cream and of course Red Bull sources were close by. My only complaint was that there were no draft beer outlets, but considering the sensibilities of my host country, that was to be expected. My thirst for the suds was slaked with my freinds later in the day with many ice-cold units of the Netherland's greatest export since tulips.

I recommend anyone with the opportunity to see a Red Bull Air Race to do so. It offered a relaxing day in the sun watching extreme flying. The photographic and video chances can't be beat as the action is so close. The venues are naturally beautiful. It was one of the best spectator experiences I have had.

See my web album here with captions:

2009 Red Bull Air Race Album

And enjoy the video:

1 comment:

Roger said...

great video! I love the sound of those engines. wish I had been there.