The first pilot from South Africa to fly in the Challenger Class, Patrick Davidson is new to the Red Bull Air Race in 2018, but his name will already be familiar to many aviation fans. In aerobatics, Davidson has not only claimed multiple national championships and podiums on the world stage, but he's also a leading display pilot who performs for audiences globally.
Born in 1982, Davidson has aviation in his blood, as both his father and grandfather were renowned display pilots. Growing up at airfields with his dad as his mentor and trainer, young Patrick was eager to get behind the controls himself. He earned his private pilot licence at age 17, and by 25 he became South Africa's youngest aerobatic champion, securing a berth in his first FAI World Aerobatic Championship.
In the decade since, Davidson has not only added more national titles to his name, but his numerous podiums at the World Championships include highlights such as third place overall in individual competition, as well as silver medals with Team RSA. He has clinched wins and podiums at a variety of other prestigious international events as far afield as China, and he was named Aeroclub South Africa's pilot of the year in 2014 and 2016.
Beyond competition, Davidson has a strong passion for preserving historic aircraft and sharing them with the public in display flights. His personal collection includes biplanes and classic World War II fighters as well as today's high-performance aerobatic planes and even a jet. Altogether, the South African, who also has experience flying as a commercial pilot, has logged more than 2,500 flight hours in over 30 different aircraft.
"I feel that becoming a part of the Red Bull Air Race is one of the highest accolades that an aerobatic pilot could dream of. This is a different kind of flying and I would like to learn as much as I can – but having the personality that I have, I also want to achieve as best I can!" Davidson shares. "It is an awesome privilege and an honour for me to fly the South African flag in this sport."