Competing for his second season in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship, Czech pilot Petr Kopfstein has honed his skills in scores of national and international competitions. Before joining the elite Master Class in 2016, he claimed seven race podiums in the Challenger Class of the Red Bull Air Race – as well as the crown of 2014 Challenger Cup Champion.
Kopfstein dreamed of flying from childhood and signed up for piloting lessons with the first money he made while at university. He had an immediate affinity for high-G flying. "My introduction was an aerobatic flight, and at that moment I knew this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life," he recalls.
Kopfstein both finished his studies with a master's degree in economics from the University of Prague and steadily developed his flying skills. He joined the Czech Aerobatic Team in 2007 and became one of the country's top talents, earning the Czech National Championship in the Unlimited and three other categories, as well as Unlimited podiums at the German and Hungarian championships.
While he's passionate about sport in all its forms, from a genuine love of snowboarding to a newfound interest in scuba diving, Kopfstein finds that nothing beats being in the air. So far, he has accumulated more than 1,200 hours flying more than 30 different aircraft, including helicopters as well as aeroplanes, and he also uses wind tunnels to train in the skydiving discipline of freeflying. When Kopfstein joined the Challenger Class of the Red Bull Air Race in 2014, he took to racing quickly, gaining expertise as well as podiums right up to the pinnacle of his championship. In his Master Class debut last year, the Czech pilot proved to be flexible and resilient, constantly adapting in a weather-plagued season to make steady progress that included two top-10 finishes as well as a performance at the season finale in Las Vegas that would have put him in the Round of 8 if strong winds hadn't caused the cancellation of flying sessions.
"We considered our first season as a learning and fine-tuning process in many aspects and areas. Although we ended up at 14th place, we are satisfied with performance progression. We needed to get some experience, adjust the raceplane and tune the teamwork, and that's what we've managed to do," says Kopfstein, who makes his home in Karlovy Vary. "So we believe that we are well prepared to become an equal rival for all participants in the upcoming seasons."