Mika Brageot was the best performing French pilot in the Master Class race in Cannes on Sunday. The youngest competitor in the World Championship finished fifth and looks set for bigger things. So we thought now is the best time to revisit the 10 things you need to know about the French ace...
1. He was drawn to aviation from the start. Brageot cannot remember a time when he was not interested in flying. He had his first lesson at age 11 when his grandfather took him to an airfield to explore aviation from the inside. (That is one of the reasons he chose 11 as his racing number).
2. He ramps up fast. Brageot started to compete in aerobatics even before flying solo, and when he did take his maiden solo flight at age 15, he was awarded the first-degree licence – including the advanced aerobatic rating – on the same day. He clinched his first national medal at age 16, turned pro as a 20-year-old in 2007, was named to the French national Unlimited team in 2009, and earned his first international medal at the European Aerobatic Championships in 2010.
3. And he will do what it takes to achieve his goals. When Brageot left school to concentrate on aerobatics, he decided that he needed to improve his English-language skills. So, at just 17, he drove from the south of France to London and stayed in a four-bedroom house with eight people (taking shifts for sleeping!). To make ends meet, he sold paintings door to door.
4. He is also careful to find the right path for success. When Brageot decided to take up Air Racing, he joined the 2014 Red Bull Air Race Challenger Class to build skills towards a place in the World Championship, and he finished third on the season's Challenger Cup podium. He won the Challenger Cup outright in 2015, and then was mentored by World Championship-winning pilot Nigel Lamb in the 2016 Master Mentoring Program before joining the Master Class last year.
5. He is great at other sports, too. Brageot has competed in tennis, swimming, rowing, cycling and skiing – and claimed medals in all of them.
6. But if he ever needs a fallback career... the circus might be an option. Brageot can ride a unicycle, juggle and put both feet behind his head.
7. He is a dunker. And we are not talking basketball. Brageot dips his croissants in coffee at breakfast. (It's a French thing.)
8. You won't find him carrying a rabbit's foot. "Mika is not superstitious at all," reports Team Coordinator Victoria Griffiths. "Not even a little bit."
9. He puts more miles on his aircraft than on his car. For every 30,000 kilometers he drives on the road, Brageot logs about 50,000 kilometers piloting aerobatic small aircraft.
10. Flying is a family affair. Brageot's wife Kathel is a Captain for Air France as well as an international aerobatic champion. The couple fly in formation together, and they share their passion with their young son, Mattis.