Martin Šonka is one of the top pilots not only in his native Czech Republic but across all of Europe, with outstanding results in both the Red Bull Air Race World Championship and major aerobatic competitions. Šonka had a 2016 season he wanted to forget, but he bounced back in 2017 and had the best season of his Air Race career by taking two race wins, including the season opener in Abu Dhabi. His consistent flying saw him battling for the title throughout the whole season and lost the title to Yoshihide Muroya in the final run of the season. His second place on the overall podium has been the highest position of his career.
Šonka began flying gliders and parachute jumping at the age of 17 near his hometown of Sezimovo Ústí. As a pilot in the Czech Air Force he flew a supersonic jet fighter, the JAS-39 Gripen, in the 211th Tactical Squadron and was a member of the prestigious Czech Air Force display team flying the L-159 ALCA. He also earned a master's degree from the Military Academy and the University of Pardubice.
Šonka's aerobatics career started with gliders and then powered aircraft. Since joining the Czech aerobatic team in 2005 he has captured numerous honours including European overall Vice Champion in the Unlimited category, two-time World Freestyle Vice Champion, two-time European Freestyle Champion, and six Unlimited and six Freestyle Championship wins at Czech Nationals.
With a tall, graceful bearing that stems from years of gymnastic training in addition to his military background, Šonka is a striking presence. His talent and approachability have seen his fan base extend well beyond the Czech Republic, and he puts that popularity to work as an advocate for disadvantaged children.