Mikael "Mika" Brageot may be new to the Master Class this season, but he's been a familiar face for Red Bull Air Race fans since 2014. The pilot from the Aquitaine region of France was a member of the Challenger Class for two years, winning the Challenger Cup Championship before taking on a pioneering role in the Master Mentoring Program of the Red Bull Air Race. With the benefit of that experience and a gold-medal background in aerobatics, Brageot is now the new pilot for the World Championship-winning Breitling Racing Team.
Born in Villeneuve sur Lot, Brageot took his first flying lesson at age 11, and by 21 he was named to his national aerobatic team, the youngest pilot ever to represent France on the international stage. Since then, he's earned two team gold medals as well as gold, silver and bronze medals in both team and individual competition at the World and European Aerobatic Championships, and has also clinched podiums at the French National Championship. He is additionally an aerobatic flight instructor and a display pilot, with a total of over 3,000 hours in the air.
Brageot joined the Challenger Class of the Red Bull Air Race in its debut year, eager to expand his skills with an exciting new discipline. Across two seasons he claimed nine race podiums – four of them wins – culminating with his Challenger Cup crown in 2015.
In 2016, Brageot kicked off another new component of the Red Bull Air Race: the Master Mentoring Program. Instead of competing, he was mentored by World Champion pilot Nigel Lamb and his Breitling Racing Team, and he had the opportunity to train in Lamb's MXS-R raceplane. Following Lamb's retirement at the end of the season, Brageot, who had already earned his Master Class Superlicense, was named to the World Championship roster for 2017. Supporting him are the experienced Breitling Racing Team members who contributed to Nigel Lamb's success – technician Mark Hensman, track and tactical analyst Max Lamb and team coordinator Victoria Griffiths.
"We are taking all the positive aspects from the mentoring year by keeping not only the same team members but the same aircraft, and I think we've built something much stronger than any of us could have anticipated," Brageot comments. "I can't predict results, but I would really like to give the best first impression that I can. My goal is to do my best, to keep learning and someday, hopefully, to win the Red Bull Air Race World Championship."