The USA's Kevin Coleman is the first American to fly in the Challenger Class and – born in 1990 – he's one of the youngest pilots ever to contend in the Red Bull Air Race. Also a longtime airshow performer and a former member of the U.S. Advanced Aerobatic Team, Coleman captured seven race podiums in his first two seasons of Challenger Class competition, including two wins. He's on the hunt for more.
"Competing in the Red Bull Air Race has been my dream for years," he says.
A Louisiana native, Coleman comes from a family of airshow pilots. He started flying and taking aerobatic lessons at age 10, taught by American aviation legend and Aerobatic Hall of Fame member Marion Cole. Coleman soloed on his 16th birthday and followed his private pilot's license with a commercial license two years later. He worked as a flightline technician while earning a bachelor's degree in aviation management from Louisiana Tech University, then launched his full-time aviation career.
At 17, Coleman was recognised as the Highest Placing First Time Sportsman at the 2007 U.S. Aerobatic Championship, and the next year he clinched third place in the Intermediate category. In addition to his current competitive career in racing and his performances in airshows, Coleman works as a contract pilot, while on the ground his passion is the Marion Cole Memorial Scholarship, which he founded to assist young people interested in aviation.
The American turned heads in his 2016 Challenger Class debut with four consecutive race podiums, from a second-place finish at the opener in Abu Dhabi through to his maiden win at the UK's legendary Ascot Raceway. His season ranking was an impressive third. Coleman followed up with three more podiums in 2017, including victory in the spectacular – and spectacularly tight – racetrack at Porto, Portugal. This season, however, Coleman is looking for even better results, and he's excited that the Challenger Class is switching to an Edge 540 raceplane.
"I think the Edge will fit my style of flying a bit better than the Extra that we flew before, though I am sure everyone will adapt to it quickly," Coleman assesses. "I've been working hard to get my flying better and more consistent, really focusing on my mental and physical ability."