Race pilot Ben Murphy has been flying between the pylons for the first time in two years as part of an Air Race Academy training camp, as the return of the Air Race World Championship draws closer.
Sywell Aerodrome in the UK was temporarily covered with 75 foot tall inflatable pylons, forming the race track for the Air Race Academy, which was holding a pre-season training camp in preparation for the inaugural season of the Air Race World Championship.
The seven-day training camp was perhaps the first tangible sign of on-going work to revive the much-loved Red Bull Air Race, which ended in September 2019. With exclusive use of the airfield, the training camp provided an opportunity for a number of new pilot applicants to gain their first experience of the race track, with the aim of some of them joining the series in 2022.
The eight rookie pilots, who came from Canada, Australia, France, Italy, the USA and the UK, will be hoping to be accepted into the Aero SR/2 class – a new relay-style competition in which teams of four pilots will race in a fleet of standardised (SR) Extra 300Ls. The most successful Aero SR/2 pilots can then be selected to graduate to the Elite XR/1 class, where they will compete individually in highly-modified experimental (XR) race planes.
Along with the Academy pilots being put through their paces by Race Academy coaches Steve Jones and Klaus Schrodt, Elite XR/1 competitor Ben Murphy, the pilot for the Sywell-based Blades Racing Team, tested his Edge 540 towards the end of the week with several laps of the specially-constructed practice track.
An eight race world championship series is expected to begin in the first half of 2022. To find out more about the Air Race World Championship, read our exclusive interview with series director Willie Cruickshank.