Category Archives: Airshow News World

Matt Hall is crowned World Champion in final Red Bull Air Race

CHIBA | Australian pilot Matt Hall finally achieved his dream of being the Red Bull Air Race World Champion as Yoshi Muroya enjoyed a third emphatic victory at his home race.

Three times the runner-up, Hall soared to victory by claiming third place at the final race of the season, just behind home hero Yoshi Muroya and Kirby Chambliss. Muroya had a challenging day, losing his Round of 14 heat against Ben Murphds by 0.015 seconds, but progressed as the fastest loser and won every subsequent heat he flew.

RACE RESULTS

Race finish Pilot Country Race points Final time Penalties Quali finish
1 Yoshi MUROYA JPN 25 0:58.630 5
2 Kirby CHAMBLISS AUS 22 0:59.601 14
3 Matt HALL USA 20 1:00.052 7
4 Pete MCLEOD CAN 18 1:04.028 +5 11
5 Nicolas IVANOFF FRA 14 0:59.096 13
6 Mika BRAGEOT FRA 13 0:59.731 +1 9
7 Francois LE VOT FRA 12 1:02.936 +5 3
8 Ben MURPHY GBR 11 1:04.248 +5 10
9 Michael GOULIAN USA 5 0:58.032 8
10 Juan VELARDE ESP 4 0:58.180 1
11 Cristian BOLTON CHI 3 0:58.252 12
12 Matthias DOLDERER GER 2 0:58.409 4
13 Martin SONKA CZE 1 00:58.808 +1 2
14 Petr KOPFSTEIN CZE 0 00:59.774 6

2018 world champion Martin Sonka lead the title chase into the final race, but was knocked out in the Round of 14 heat against Nicolas Ivanoff when he picked up a one second Over-G penalty. He ended the season in third place overall. Ben Murphy, the latest pilot to join the tour, stunned with a fourth-place finish in only his second season.

CHAMPIONSHIP RESULTS

Position Pilot Team Country Total points Change
1 Matt HALL Matt Hall Racing AUS 81
2 Yoshi MUROYA Team Falken JPN 80
3 Martin SONKA Red Bull Team Sonka CZE 68
4 Ben MURPHY The Blades Racing Team GBR 48 =
5 Kirby CHAMBLISS Team Chambliss USA 48
6 Pete MCLEOD Cashback World Racing CAN 48
7 Nicolas IVANOFF Team Hamilton FRA 47
8 Mika BRAGEOT #11RACING Team Eyetime FRA 44 =
9 Michael GOULIAN Team Goulian USA 42
10 Juan VELARDE Team Velarde ESP 39
11 Francois Le Vot FLV Racing Team 12 FRA 34
12 Cristian BOLTON Cristian Bolton Racing CHI 27
13 Petr Kopfstein Team Speilberg CZE 10 =
14 Matthias Dolderer Matthias Dolderer Racing GER 6 =

Earlier this year, Red Bull announced they would be ending their support for the series, which began in 2003, due to lower than expected interest. The race organisers shortened this year’s series from eight to four races, and announced the series would not return in 2020.

Nine injured as GameBird GB1 crashes during Halcones aerobatic team training flight

SANTIAGO | A GameBird GB1 operated by the Chilean Air Force’s aerobatic team crashed in a residential area during a test flight on Saturday 7th September.

The aircraft crashed in Santiago’s El Bosque neighbourhood near El Bosque Air Base. Firefighters confirmed that eight people on the ground were injured in the crash, with one suffering minor burns and seven being hospitalised due to smoke inhalation.

The pilot was identified in a brief statement on the Halcones’ Facebook page as Cristobal Contreras, who has served with the team for several years. The team said he escaped “practically unharmed”, but local media report he suffered minor injuries to his head.

The Halcones are Chile’s national aerobatic team, formed in 1981 on the Pitts Special. The team later upgraded to the Extra 300L in 2003. In March 2019, the Halcones announced the team had selected the GameBird GB1 as their next aircraft, with the first delivery taking place in July this year.

The Halcones are not performing public displays this year while they transition to their new aircraft. They are expected to make their display debut with the GameBird at the FIDAE aerospace and defence show in Santiago on the 31st March-5th April 2020.

An investigation into the cause of the crash has been launched.

Aqaba Airshow launched: day and night displays promised at new Jordanian airshow

AQABA | An all-new major airshow is to make its debut next March at the home of the Royal Jordanian Falcons.

Photo: Adam Landau

The Aqaba Airshow will be held on the 20th-21st March 2020 and is to feature both daytime and nighttime aerial displays. The airshow will be held at King Hussain International Airport and is planned to become an annual event, boosting tourism in the kingdom.

Promotional material for the airshow so far includes the Royal Jordanian Falcons and a de Havilland Vampire T.55 owned by the Royal Jordanian Heritage Flight. Both teams are based at King Hussain International Airport.

The show is being organised jointly by Aeropact – the Polish company behind Gdynia AeroBaltic – as well as local government organisations, the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA) and the Jordan Tourism Board. The ESEZA also said representatives from the Royal Air Force, Royal Jordanian Falcons, Civil Aviation Regulatory Commission and King Hussain International Airport are involved in planning for the event. Airlines operating from Aqaba, including Royal Jordanian and Turkish Airlines, are also expected to be involved.

One last chance for glory at final Red Bull Air Race

CHIBA | The final Red Bull Air Race World Champion will be crowned this weekend as the championship touches down in Japan for its last ever race.

Three pilots are hoping to finish at the top of the standings: the Czech 2018 world champion leads on 65 points, with Australia’s Matt Hall four points behind, desperate to take the title for the first time. The 2017 world champion, Yoshi Muroya of Japan, is ten points behind Sonka. The UK’s Ben Murphy sits in fourth in only his second season, with 37 points, and is aiming to finish on the podium.

The planned eight-race season was abruptly cut back to just four races in May when Red Bull withdrew their support. The race organisers also said that 2019 would be the sport’s final season. The Austrian energy drinks company cited a lack of outside interest, but it is also thought that the race organisers were struggling to find venues to host the competition.

The abbreviated 2019 season began in Abu Dhabi, with Yoshi Muroya taking the win by just 0.003 seconds. The series then moved to Kazan, Russia, where Martin Sonka was crowned the winner, and Lake Balaton, Hungary (the Mayor of nearby Budapest banned the race from his city earlier in the year) where Matt Hall climbed to the top step of the podium. Lake Balaton also saw the first podium finish for Ben Murphy, who finished in second.

The season finale is to be held in Chiba, on the shore of Tokyo Bay, on the 7th-8th September. Side acts will include a search and rescue helicopter demonstration, a ShinMaywa US-2 display and a performance by the JASDF’s White Arrows aerobatic team, flying three Fuji T-5 training aircraft.

The Red Bull Air Race was founded in 2003. There have been 12 seasons, including 88 individual races in 34 locations. Eight pilots have so far been crowned world champion, of whom three are still competing in 2019. Two are in the hunt for a second title as the 2019 season draws to a close.

Thailand tipped to host first major airshow in 2023

U-TAPAO | Thailand could host its first major international airshow as early as 2023, the Bangkok Post has said, as officials consider signing a 20-year deal with Farnborough International.

U-Tapao International Airport is tipped as the probable venue for the event, located just 15 miles from the coastal city of Pattaya. The proposed four-day biannual show could encompass private, commercial and military aviation, featuring up to 60 aircraft and 200 exhibitors.

Farnborough International is most famous for organising the Farnborough International Airshow in the UK, one of aviation’s longest-running and most prestigious trade events. They have also run the Bahrain Airshow since its inception in 2010.

While Thailand has never hosted a large international airshow, it is no stranger to aviation events. Every year, several air bases and airports – including U-Tapao – open their doors for Children’s Day events, and U-Tapao also hosted Air Race One in 2017. A smaller, annual show at Bangkok’s Don Mueng Airport, mostly featuring general aviation types, was trialed in 2009, but failed to make significant headway.

The Royal Thai Air Force held an airshow of its own in 2012 to mark its centenary, which featured its all-new aerobatic team, Blue Phoenix, alongside front-line Thai aircraft, Indonesia’s Jupiter Aerobatic Team and a Singaporean F-16C; sadly, although formed in 2011, Blue Phoenix has not displayed since. The air arm’s 1 Wing also staged an airshow in 2015, which was headlined by China’s August 1st (Ba Yi) aerobatic team.

The new airshow will compete with three established events in the region: the Langkawi International Maritime & Aerospace Exhibition in Malaysia, the Singapore Airshow (previously Asian Aerospace) and the China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition (Airshow China) in Zhuhai.

It is not yet clear whether the new Thai airshow will feature flying displays as one of its main attractions, but the annual Children’s Day events, as well as the RTAF’s participation in recent editions of LIMA and the Singapore Airshow, prove its willingness to perform to the public and its ability to stage world-class aircraft demonstrations.

Red Bull pulls the plug on the Red Bull Air Race

The Red Bull Air Race will wrap up for good after an abbreviated 2019 season, it was announced today.

In a surprise announcement, the Air Race said that “Red Bull has decided not to continue the Red Bull Air Race World Championship beyond the 2019 season.”

They added: “The Red Bull Air Race provided sports entertainment of highest quality but did not attract the level of outside interest as many other Red Bull events across the world. Red Bull thanks the pilots, their teams, partners, the host cities as well as the Red Bull employees for all they have done to make these enjoyable and memorable events.”

Just four of the eight planned races will go ahead this year: the Abu Dhabi round, which has already been staged, Kazan, Russia June 15-16), Lake Balaton, Hungary (13-14 July) and Chiba, Japan (7-8 September). Planned races in the USA and Saudi Arabia have been dropped.

Confirming the American race had been cancelled, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway said they and their fans would be “disappointed” not to host the air race again. “We enjoyed watching the pilots navigate the unique course over the Indianapolis Motor Speedway grounds,” they said. “We were especially excited to see American pilot Michael Goulian celebrate a well-earned victory last year.”

Customers who have already purchased tickets will receive a refund.

Martin Sonka, the 2018 World Champion, was the first pilot to comment online, describing the announcement as “really sad news” and indicating he had only heard of the decision earlier that day.

In a statement, Matt Hall Racing said: “While disappointed that a sport, which had significant potential to succeed, will be no longer, Matt Hall Racing express their gratitude to Red Bull for the opportunity to compete at the top level of aviation for the past eight seasons.”

The unique motorsport, which began in 2003, sees a selection of elite pilot flying highly-modified raceplanes around a course of inflatable pylons. More than 90 races have taken place around the world, in locations as diverse as Longleat in the UK, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the USA and the Swan River in Perth, Australia.

Royal Jordanian Falcons release 2019 European Tour schedule

AQABA | The national aerobatic team of Jordan today posted the schedule for their annual European tour.

UK and France make up the bulk of the schedule, including an appearence for the first time at Old Warden. The team will also perform in Belgium, Greece and the Republic of Ireland.

Date Show
Jun 29-30 Meeting de l’Air de Cazaux, BA120 Cazaux, France
Jul 7 Shuttleworth Military Airshow, Old Warden, UK
Jul 13 Royal Navy International Air Day, RNAS Yeovilton, UK
Jul 20-21 Royal International Air Tattoo, RAF Fairford, UK
Jul 27-28 Bray Air Display, Dublin, Ireland
Aug 17-18 Biggin Hill Festival of Flight, London, UK
Aug 24-25 Meeting International de la Somme, Albert – Picardie, France
Sep 7-8 Fête de l’Air Lens, Lens – Benifontaine, France
Sep 15 Sanicole International Airshow, Hechtel, Belgium
Sep 21-22 Athens Flying Week, Tanagra AB, Athens, Greece

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 RESULTS

Race finish Pilot Country Race points Final time Penalties Quali finish
1 Yoshi MUROYA JPN 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

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

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 =

 

Red Bull Air Race 2019 tour calendar released

UPDATE: In May 2019, it was announced that this year’s race season would be curtailed and the series will not return next year.

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 Notes
Feb 8-9 The Corniche, Abu Dhabi, UAE RACE
Mar 21-23 Dammam Corniche, Dammam, Saudi Arabia DEMO
Jun 1-2 Aviatická Pouť Airshow, Pardubice, Czech Republic DEMO
Jun 15-16 Kazanka River, Kazan, Russia RACE
Jul 13-14 Zamárdi, Lake Balaton, Hungary RACE; Moved from Budapest
TBC Europe; TBC RACE; Postponed from May
Aug 10-11 Red Bull Race Day, Grenchen, Switzerland DEMO
Sep 7-8 Makuhari Beach, Chiba, Japan RACE
TBC Asia; TBC RACE
Oct 19-20 Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indianapolis, IN, USA RACE
Nov 8-9 Saudi Arabia RACE

Sri Lanka Air Force debuts first-ever aerobatic team

CHINA BAY | The Sri Lanka Air Force’s first ever aerobatic team, the Blue Eagles, staged their first ever performance on Friday 11th January.

The display featured five specially-painted Nanchang PT-6 training aircraft, and was piloted by Qualified Training Instructors from the No. 1 Flying Training Wing. The aircraft performed a number of formation manoeuvres, breaks and solo aerobatics.

The air arm also staged flypasts featuring the IAI Kfir, Chengdu F-7 and Hongdu JL-8, as well as a parachute display and Mil Mi-7 role demonstration.

In the past, the Sri Lanka Air Force have staged basic formation aerobatic displays with the PT-6 and Hongdu JL-8, but this is the first time they have set up a fully-fledged aerobatic team.

The Sri Lanka Air Force operates a fleet of six PT-6s, a Chinese basic trainer aircraft developed in the 1950s. The aircraft is used by other aerobatic teams including the People’s Liberation Army Air Force’s ‘Sky Wing’ team and the Desert Rats, a civilian team from the United States.