One of the most experienced and determined contenders for the World Championship, the USA's Michael Goulian has accumulated career highlights including a memorable win at the iconic Red Bull Air Race stop of Budapest, Hungary. After a building year in 2015 when the American introduced new team members and a new raceplane, Team Goulian began to see results last season, setting up high anticipation for 2017.
A Massachusetts native, Goulian grew up in an aviation family with one of the biggest flying schools in the Northeast. He soloed on his 16th birthday and dived into aerobatics a year later, earning the US National Advanced Championship at 22 and the National Unlimited Championship at 27. In addition, Goulian was a corporate pilot, established an aerobatics school and co-authored a series of books, "Basic and Advanced Aerobatics," that became an industry standard. He's also one of just seven pilots ever to earn the triple crown of industry honours for airshow flying: the Art Scholl Memorial Award, the Bill Barber Award and the ICAS Sword of Excellence. Goulian further holds the distinction of being an honourary member of the legendary US Navy Blue Angels.
It's not only Goulian's crisp and athletic style of flying that makes him a global favourite. Personable and charismatic, he's an engaging advocate for aviation, whether explaining his motorsport on camera or chatting with fans at autograph sessions.
Goulian soared into 2016 with a strong sixth place in Abu Dhabi, but his real momentum came in the second half of the season, when he made the Final 4 at Ascot and clocked a new track record during the turbulent finale in Las Vegas before the race was cancelled due to high winds.
To prepare for their ninth full season in the Red Bull Air Race this year, Team Goulian – which also includes team coordinator Pablo Branco, technician Warren Cilliers and race tactician Steve Hall – worked with engineers from Brazil to make new aerodynamic modifications to their Edge 540 V2 in the brief off-season.
"Towards the end of the 2016 season, our team really started to hit its stride. We were getting a handle on the raceplane, and I was starting to get in the groove with my flying," Goulian remarks. "After setting the track record on a windy course in Vegas, our team has more confidence going into 2017 than any previous season."