Category Archives: Airshow News Air Sports

Row forces Red Bull Air Race from Budapest to Balaton

ZAMÁRDI | The Red Bull Air Race will land in a new venue this July after the Mayor of Budapest blocked plans for the race to be held in his city.

Photo: Armin Walcher / Red Bull Content Pool

Zamárdi, on the southern shore of Lake Balaton in Hungary, will host the competition for the first time on the 13th-14th July. The well-known holiday town has a population of just under 2,500 people – but with its experience hosting large outdoor events, dozens of hotels in the area and good links to the Hungarian capital, Zamárdi’s Mayor, Gyula Csákovics, is confident that the event will be a success.

He said: “The city of Zamardi has over 15 years of professional experience in hosting large, outdoor events and is perfectly suitable for hosting the Red Bull Air Race. The surroundings and the spectacular view will live up to the standards of the competition, and Red Bull Air Race will bring great publicity to both the city and the whole Balaton region.”

Red Bull Air Race officials have evaluated several towns on Lake Balaton in recent weeks after the Mayor of Budapest said he would not allow the race to be held there. István Tarlós has long called for the event to be banned from the city, citing noise complaints and disruption to the daily lives of local people.

Photo: Armin Walcher / Red Bull Content Pool

Budapest has hosted the air race in almost every year of the championship has been held: from 2003 to 2010 and again from 2015 to 2018, only missing the race in 2014. The venue is particularly well-loved by fans, who enjoy watching the aircraft fly over the River Danube, in front of the Hungarian Parliament and under the Chain Bridge.

Ticket holders for the Budapest race are entitled to a full refund; ticket options for the Balaton race will be announced soon.

Magnificent Muroya takes double Abu Dhabi victory

ABU DHABI | Yoshi Muroya won the opening round of the Red Bull Air Race in Abu Dhabi today by the narrowest of margins, taking the win by just 0.003 seconds.

Photo: Joerg Mitter / Red Bull Content Pool

The 2017 world champion performed spectacularly all week, excelling in Free Practice, flying fastest in Qualifying and taking the victory on Race Day. Under the new format, this earned him the maximum 28 points available over the weekend.

Martin Sonka, the reigning world champion, showed his credentials by coming second, finishing a split second behind his Japanese rival. Michael Goulian finished third both in the race and in Qualifying, meaning he now sits just one point behind Sonka.

Photo: Naim Chidiac / Red Bull Content Pool

Nicolas Ivanoff was both the luckiest and unluckiest pilot of the day. After posting the slowest time of the field in Qualifying, he lost his Round of 14 heat against Yoshi Muroya, but made it through to the next round as the fastest loser. He then beat Kirby Chambliss in the Round of 8, but could not race in the Final 4 as his plane’s engine refused to start. The Frenchman, who won in Abu Dhabi in 2016, had to settle for fourth place.

The pilots battled challenging winds on race day which made gates 7 and 14 much harder than in the Free Practice and Qualifying sessions. Half of pilots picked up penalties in the Round of 8, including Kirby Chambliss, who was caught for climbing in gate 10 and ended with the slowest time of the round. Mika Brageot, who finished in seventh, incurred two penalties; one for insufficient smoke and one for exceeding 11G.

Photo: Joerg Mitter / Red Bull Content Pool

Almost two-thirds of the field picked up penalties in the Round of 14, including Cristian Bolton, who opted for a Safety Climb-Out when he exceeded 12G after gate 6 and was then unable to get his wings level for gate 7. As a result, the Chilean finished in 14th place.

Later, Matt Hall picked up a two-second Incorrect Level penalty at gate 7, which should have given Britain’s Ben Murphy a clear passage to the Round of 8. Instead, the British pilot exceeded 11G and then hit the outside pylon at gate 7. The combined four seconds of penalty knocked Murphy out of the round; he finished in 13th overall. He later said that an alternator failure had distracted him from what should have been an easy run.

Photo: Andreas Schaad / Red Bull Content Pool

Matthias Dolderer was another big name to bow out early. Visibly furious with himself for his Incorrect Level penalty at gate 14, the 2016 world champion ended the day in 11th place. Pete McLeod also had a frustrating week; his 9th place finish (caused by yet another penalty at gate 7) belied his fantastic runner-up performace in Qualifying. However, McLeod was not given the two points usually awarded to the Qualifying runner-up because he his magnito settings accidentally exceeded the regulations.

Muroya therefore starts the season with a spectacular six point lead over his closest rival, but Goulian and Sonka have proved that they are hungry to repeat last year’s success.


Race finish Pilot Country Race points Final time Penalties Quali finish
1 Yoshi MUROYA USA 25 0:53.780 1
2 Martin SONKA CZE 22 0:53.783 4
3 Michael GOULIAN USA 20 0:54.009 3
4 Nicolas IVANOFF FRA 18 DNS N/A 14
5 Matt HALL AUS 14 0:54.760 8
6 Juan VELARDE ESP 13 0:55.221 +2 6
7 Mika BRAGEOT FRA 12 0:56.263 +2 5
8 Kirby CHAMBLISS USA 11 0:56.341 +2 13
9 Pete MCLEOD CAN 5 0:55.196 +2 2
10 Petr KOPFSTEIN CZE 4 0:55.816 +2 12
11 Matthias DOLDERER GER 3 0:56.443 +2 10
12 Francois LE VOT FRA 2 0:58.109 +2 9
13 Ben MURPHY GBR 1 0:58.638 +4 7
14 Cristian BOLTON CHI 0 DNF +3 11


Position Pilot Team Country Total points Change
1 Yoshi MUROYA Team Falken JPN 28 =
2 Martin SONKA Red Bull Team Sonka CZE 22 =
3 Michael GOULIAN Team Goulian USA 21 =
4 Nicolas IVANOFF Team Hamilton FRA 18 =
5 Matt HALL Matt Hall Racing AUS 14 =
6 Juan VELARDE Team Velarde ESP 13 =
7 Mika BRAGEOT #11RACING Team Eyetime FRA 12 =
8 Kirby CHAMBLISS Team Chambliss USA 11 =
9 Pete MCLEOD Cashback World Racing CAN 5 =
10 Petr KOPFSTEIN Team Spielberg CZE 4 =
11 Matthias DOLDERER Matthias Dolderer Racing GER 3 =
12 Francois LE VOT FLV Racing Team 12 FRA 2 =
13 Ben MURPHY The Blades Racing Team GBR 1 =
14 Cristian BOLTON Cristian Bolton Racing CHI 0 =


Budapest Mayor refuses to grant Red Bull Air Race permissions

BUDAPEST | The Red Bull Air Race faces a possible crisis after the Mayor of Budapest said he would not allow the event to be held in his city this year.

Photo: Armin Walcher / Red Bull Content Pool

The Hungarian capital is scheduled to host the fourth stop of the season on the 13th-14th July, according to the sport’s official calendar, which was released last week.

Budapest has hosted the air race in almost every year of the championship has been held; from 2003 to 2010 and from 2015 to 2018, missing only the race in 2014. The venue is particularly well-loved by fans, who enjoy watching the aircraft fly over the River Danube, in front of the Hungarian Parliament and under the Chain Bridge.

However, the city’s Mayor, István Tarlós, has long called for the event to be banned from the city, citing noise complaints and disruption to the daily lives of local people.

Mr Tarlós released a statement today saying that he has not given permission for the event to land in Budapest this year. He said that he has informed the event organisers that the city will refuse to issue the licenses they need to stage the race.

Photo: Armin Walcher / Red Bull Content Pool

The Mayor’s move was also backed by Zsolt Láng, Mayor of District II of Budapest.

Mr Tarlós suggested the organisers consider staging the race on the River Danube further out of town or over one of Hungary’s many lakes. However, many of these venues may lack the infrastructure required to host the competition, and significant funding is also required from local authorities.

The Red Bull Air Race 2019 season kicks off in Abu Dhabi this week.

Red Bull Air Race 2019 tour calendar released

SALZBURG  | The Red Bull Air Race will be heading to new venues this year, with races expected across Europe, North America and Asia.

The race season will begin in Abu Dhabi in February for the traditional season opener before spending the next few months in Europe. This will be followed by two races in Asia and one in Saudi Arabia.

The location for the second date of the tour has not been decided, but an NBN news report last week said the series would feature a new venue “over the Mediterranean”.

A second unconfirmed venue is planned in Asia, however in previous years, events marked “Asia; TBC” on the Red Bull Air Race’s preliminary schedule have in fact been relocated to Europe. A number of Asian cities are known to have expressed interest in hosting the air race, including Singapore and Hong Kong, while Putrajaya in Malaysia hosted a one-off race in 2014.

Notably, the air race will not land in Budapest this year. While originally scheduled for July, the Mayor of Budapest refused to grant the organisers permission to hold the event. Instead, it will be staged at a new venue on the shore of Lake Balaton.

Some fans have criticised the air race organisers for the late release of their schedule, which was published just ten days before the first race and is still incomplete.

Dates Location
Feb 8-9 The Corniche, Abu Dhabi, UAE
TBC Europe; TBC
Jun 15-16 Kazanka River, Kazan, Russia
Jul 13-14 Zamárdi, Lake Balaton, Hungary
Sep 7-8 Makuhari Beach, Chiba, Japan
Oct 19-20 Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indianapolis, IN, USA
Nov 8-9 Saudi Arabia

Where will the Red Bull Air Race land this year?

SALZBURG | The Red Bull Air Race are yet to announce their 2019 calendar, but with the first race just two weeks away, the first details are already emerging.

An NBN News report about Australian racer Matt Hall this morning said that there will be two new race locations on the calendar this year “over the Mediterranean and in the Middle East”.

Of the remaining races, two have already been confirmed by Red Bull: the opening round will take place in Abu Dhabi on Friday 8th-Saturday 9th February, with Chiba in Japan hosting a race in early September.

City officials in Budapest have confirmed the event will return to the Hungarian capital on Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th July. This is despite the city’s mayor pledging to ban the event last summer after locals complained of noise disturbance and road closures.

With three venues confirmed and two new ones on the way, that means around three existing host cities are likely to see the Red Bull Air Race return to their skies this year. This will include the Russian city of Kazan, which is currently two years into its three year contract. The Kazan round is likely to be in early June.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indiana, USA, completed their three-year contract to host the race last year, but IMS bosses are said to be pleased with crowd sizes and said in October that they were keen to negotiate a new deal. The IMS website suggests they are planning to host a race this year, but no date is given.

Probably off the cards is the city of Porto in Portugal. Around 850,000 turned out to watch the race in Porto in 2017, but the championship didn’t return to the city last year. Porto’s mayor told local media in December 2018 that, while the matter would not be closed until later this month, he did not expect the series to return to Porto in 2019.

Austria is also not expected to host a race next year, while Cannes, France, will take a break from hosting the event, which will return to the French Riviera in 2020.

The UK is one country not to have hosted the Red Bull Air Race in two years, with many British fans hoping the series will return in 2019. Four years ago, Red Bull told YM Liverpool that it was not in talks with any UK venues while it’s three year contract with Ascot Racecourse (2014-2016) remained in place. London, Longleat and Kemble have all hosted the series in the past, and campaigners in Folkestone have also called for the event to be brought to their town. Perhaps with a British pilot back in the Masterclass, the Red Bull Air Race will return to the UK once again?

A number of potential venues keen to host the tour appear not to be on the calendar for 2019. Challenger Class pilot Kenny Chiang told the South China Morning Post last year that the “wheels were in motion” to bring the competition to Hong Kong (although he admitted this could still be some way off) and Singaporean media reported that Red Bull twice tried to bring the event to the southeast Asian city state in 2010 and 2014, but according to NBN News, no races are planned in this region in 2019.

It is obvious that the Red Bull Air Race are keen to expand their presence in Asia; the 2014 season finale was originally scheduled to be hosted in China before it was moved to Austria, and as recently as 2018 a further planned stop in an unspecified Asian venue was dropped from the schedule.

Another venue for consideration in future years is Lake Macquarie in New South Wales, Australia. Matt Hall told This is Flight in 2015 that he would love to bring the event to his Belmont base. The local council made a bid to host the race in 2016, but this ultimately fell through when the state tourism authority decided not to back the move, believing it was not worth the money.

The Red Bull Air Race has held eight races per year in recent seasons, but target an eventual fifteen races per year.

We can expect the release of their preliminary 2019 calendar in the very near future – we’ll have all the latest here on This is Flight once it has been announced.

Three new pilots join Red Bull Air Race Challenger Class

SALZBURG | New pilots from Austria, Switzerland and the USA will join the Challenger Class of the Red Bull Air Race this year, it was announced today.

Vito Wyprächtiger, who joins the 2019 series, will already be known to some Air Race fans. The Swiss aerobatic ace has already raced at the Reno Air Races and was previously involved in the Red Bull Air Race as a test pilot. He was also the crew chief for Hannes Arch in his championship-winning 2008 season.

Also joining the tour is Austrian pilot Patrick Strasser. Strasser is an aerobatic instructer and air ambulance pilot. He has also won national aerobatic championships.

This year will also see the youngest ever Red Bull Air Race pilot join the Challenger Cup. Californian Sammy Mason, who will be 25 by the time of the first race of the year, is already a succesful airshow and aerobatic pilot.

Challenger Class pilots share a trio of stock Edge 540 V2s and do not run their own racing teams. In time, the most succesful pilots graduate to the Red Bull Air Race Masterclass.

In a key format change, all eight Challenger Cup races will now carry equal weight in the scoring system. Previously, only the top performing pilots made it to the last race of the season, where the Challenger Cup was awarded.

This season, each pilot will fly four races (six pilots per race) with the highest-scoring pilot at the end of the season being crowned champion.

The Red Bull Air Race begins next month in Abu Dhabi.

Goulian, Chambliss & Ivanoff to retire from Red Bull Air Race

SALZBURG | Three of the biggest names in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship will retire at the end of the 2019 season, it was announced today.

Kirby Chambliss is currently the last remaining pilot who has been with the sport since its inception in 2003. The 59-year-old Texan was World Champion in 2004 and 2006. His aggressive flying style saw him struggle for form in more recent years, but he finished fourth overall in 2017 and sixth last season.

Chambliss is also an active airshow performer in the United States, flying both solo aerobatic displays and performances with other Red Bull-sponsored displays.

Michael Goulian, the second American pilot in the Championship, is also set to retire. The 50-year-old aerobatic ace joined the competition in 2004. He achieved his first race win, but had to wait until 2018 for his second first place finish. Last season was his best to date; Goulian took two race wins and three other podiums, finishing third overall.

Frenchman Nicolas Ivanoff also joined the tour in 2004. Now 51, Ivanoff has struggled to keep pace with the competition in recent years and has been blighted by problems with his plane that saw him fly much of the 2017 season in a stock Edge 540 borrowed from the Challenger Class. His best result was in 2014, when he finished fourth overall.

There is no word yet on which Challenger Class graduates will replace the three outgoing pilots, but it is likely that Kevin Coleman of the USA will take over the Chambliss team.

The Red Bull Air Race 2019 season begins in Abu Dhabi next month.

Rule changes announced for Red Bull Air Race 2019 season

SALZBURG | There will be changes to the way points and penalties are awarded during the upcoming season of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship.

For the first time since 2010, points will be awarded on the basis of qualifying results. In the past, the winner of qualifying was awarded one world championship point. This was abandoned when the series returned in 2014. This year, however, the top three qualifying performers will receive one, two and three points respectively.

The number of points at stake on race day will also increase, with additional bonus points for pilots who progress through each round. Race winners will now receive 25 points, up from 15 last year.

The new scoring system will force teams to reassess their qualifying and race day tactics.

The most pronounced scoring gap will separate those who did and didn’t make it through the Round of 14; eight place finishers will get 11 points (up from 3) and ninth place finishers will get 5 (up from two). Only the pilot finishing in last place will earn no championship points at all.

Penalties for exceeding maximum G will be simplified, in another change to the rulebook. In 2018, pilots would be hit with a 2-second penalty if they exceeded 10G for more than 0.6 seconds, and face an automatic DNF if they exceeded 12G. This year, a two-second penalty will be issued for exceeding 11G, while 12G will trigger a DNF.

The new rules will help make the 2019 season one of the most exciting and competitive seasons yet. The series kicks off in Abu Dhabi next month.