Pete McLeod emerged as one of the top Red Bull Air Race pilots in only his third year of competition, 2014, with three podiums including a career-first victory in Las Vegas. The Canadian had already rewritten history in 2009, when he became the World Championship series' youngest pilot at age 25, and the Vegas triumph made him the youngest race winner at 30. One of the most popular aviation figures in Canada, McLeod thrilled his fans with a pair of consecutive podiums to finish out the 2016 season, and he's set his sights on building that momentum throughout 2017.
McLeod can't remember a time when he didn't know how to fly. Airborne at six weeks old, he first clutched the controls atop his father's knee at age three and got his private pilot's licence at 16. He was an accomplished bush pilot even before pursuing aerobatics as an 18-year-old, earning his aerobatic instructor rating in less than a year. Following successes including the North American Collegiate Championship (while earning an economics degree from the University of Western Ontario), McLeod competed in classical aerobatics internationally before switching his focus to racing.
The maverick from Canada always flies his own way, with a typically hard-charging style that turns the World Championship into a wide-open battle when he upsets longtime favourites in the head-to-head heats. In the past, McLeod's all-or-nothing flying could see him on the podium or plagued with penalties, but in 2016 he dialed in the fine balance between aggression and restraint. Not only did he stand on the podium in third place at Germany's EuroSpeedway Lausitz and the USA's Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but with outstanding precision he was the only pilot to make it through the entire season without hitting a pylon.
In 2017, Team McLeod also includes technician Patrick Phillips, returning for his fourth season with the pilot, as well as data analyst Jeff Hack and Charlotte Sandgaard as team coordinator.
"For me the Red Bull Air Race is an expression of some of the greatest things in life – speed and extreme performance, world-class competition, the lifestyle, and doing it all in an aeroplane!" McLeod states. "After a building year in 2016 I've made a lot of progress on consistency in my flying, and the team will be working more on the technical side of the aircraft performance to continue building in 2017. The goal needs to be to get the aircraft faster this year and fly like last year."