Cristian Bolton is the first Chilean ever to fly in the Master Class of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship. But even before contending in those elite ranks for the first time at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in October 2016, Bolton made history for Latin America in the Challenger Class, earning eight race podiums including third place at the Challenger Cup season final in 2015. And that's only the most recent chapter of the story for the decorated former Lieutenant Colonel in the Chilean Air Force.
The son of an Air Force aviator, Bolton dreamed of being a pilot from childhood. He signed up for the Chilean Air Force at age 18 and within a few years was an elite fighter pilot, flying a variety of aircraft across several squadrons and earning honours such as the Top Gun Award. The Chilean ace eventually became Chief Instructor at Chile's Air Force Academy and Tactical Fighter School.
Bolton took his dream to a new level as a member of the prestigious Escuadrilla deAlta Acrobacia Halcones ("Falcons") aerobatic demo team, thrilling crowds worldwide and finishing his military career of more than two decades as the team's Squadron Commander and Leader.
A Certified Flight Instructor who teaches aerobatics in Chile and the USA, Bolton is recognised by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale as the top Chilean aerobatic pilot and is also one of the leading Unlimited aerobatic show performers in all of Latin America. He holds advanced degrees in engineering, military aeronautics and human resources.
Having followed the Red Bull Air Race from its beginnings in 2003, Bolton got his chance to try racing when the Challenger Class debuted in 2014. In only his third race, the Chilean claimed second place, making him the first Latin American pilot to clinch a Red Bull Air Race podium. In 2015, he captured his first Challenger Class victory at the season opener in Abu Dhabi – another milestone for Latin America.
Bolton was named stand-in pilot for the 2016 Master Class season, and was called up for his maiden flights in the World Championship field at the final two stops, Indianapolis and Las Vegas, before being confirmed as an ongoing member of the Master Class in 2017.
Bolton's more than 4,600 hours in a variety of racing, aerobatic and military aircraft have made him a flexible and determined competitor. His first full season in the Master Class saw him reach the Round of 8 twice and finish 13th on the leaderboard. He'll be working hard to improve his raceplane and return this year to start claiming podiums.