Category Archives: Airshow News Air Sports

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 Wypr├Ąchtiger, 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.

Aerobatic pilot gunning to beat own world record

YUMA | US aerobatic pilot Spencer Suderman will try next month to break the record for the most number of consecutive inverted flat spins in an aircraft.

The Floridian is targeting 120 spins, beating the current world record of 98, which he set in 2016.

Suderman will fly a modified Pitts S-1C for the attemept, lightened and with a flat bottom wing. This will lower the aircraft’s stall speed and allow it to reach higher altitudes. It also has a custom-built smaller engine.

The maneuver will begin at 27,000 feet, with recovery at 2,000 feet. It will take up to four minutes to complete.

The attempt is scheduled for Sunday 17th February at MCAS Yuma, Arizona.

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 over a month away, the first details are already emerging.

Earlier today, the Blades Racing Team confirmed on Twitter that the first race of the season will be held in Abu Dhabi next month. We believe the dates for the race will be Friday 8th and Saturday 9th February.

Cannes may host the second or third race of the season, with local events websites suggesting the French leg of the tour could be held in April, although we are unclear on their sources.

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.

Also expected to host a race next year is the Russian city of Kazan, which is currently two years into its three year contract.

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.

The remainder of the season is still unknown to us at the current time, but there are other locations clearly on Red Bull’s radar. 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.

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.

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?

Another venue for consideration 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.