Visit any hangar in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship and you are sure to find a team, a pilot and a raceplane. But look a little deeper and you will discover other essentials. Here are the basics that no team can do without – plus a few extras.
Number 5: TV screens
As the world watches the live race broadcasts, the teams are watching, too. A TV screen is mounted in each hangar.
Lara Sigg, team coordinator for Matthias Dolderer Racing, says, "When Matthias flies, this is how we follow the action and see what he's doing, and Michael and Matthias [tacticians Michael and Matthias Stock] also watch to analyze tactics and see how they can improve things."
Number 4: Hydration and nutrition
Plenty of water, along with other drinks, is a staple for every team. But food is important, too. While meals are provided at the Race Airport, teams additionally bring their own favourite types of nutrition to keep them going 24/7.
Andrew Musgrove, the team coordinator for Matt Hall Racing, shares: "Matt uses a protein powder which he mixes with a banana for a lighter lunch on busy flying days. We also keep a stash of protein bars in the hangar for a bite on the go. From time to time any team member might miss lunch, or need a boost during the day – so we have the bars at the ready."
Hydration is key to staying in a peak physical condition
Number 3: Whiteboards
Whiteboards are indispensable to keep schedules top of mind and priorities crystal clear.
"We have two whiteboards in our hangar. One looks after our daily plan, key information and is constantly updated with flying schedules throughout the day. The other is for technical checklists as we prepare the plane to fly," explains Musgrove.
Number 2: Digital devices
Digital technology is crucial not only to analyse lines through the track, but also to keep today's sizeable teams in constant touch. "Having the computer and simulation program is essential for me," says Rodrigo Torres, tactician for Cristian Bolton Racing. Sigg adds, "Our phones and laptops are also very important to keep up with any kinds of updates, to communicate and to do social media posts. For example, every evening, I send my team the schedule for the next day via a messenger app. You're never really offline during race week."
The latest technology is essential.
Number 1: Raceplane maintenance tools
Every team agrees that the primary thing they cannot do without is equipment to maintain their raceplane, including not only tools but also spare parts and fans to cool the engine between rounds. "The tools and spares boxes have everything we need in them. On any day, we have the tools and the equipment to fix any issue we might have with the raceplane," Musgrove states.
An integral part of each hangar is a screened-off private area, where teams can meet, study strategies or just relax. Each team tailors this space with whatever they need, from tables and camp chairs to a small bed. Other items that many teams have in the hangar include...
Power adaptors: Given the international scope of the World Championship, it is a smart move to bring plenty of adaptors to ensure that equipment can function anywhere.
Ice containers: On hot days, some pilots use cool suits, and teams fill insulated containers with ice for use with their suit.
Bicycles, skateboards, non-motorised scooters: Every second counts in the hangar as well as in the racetrack, so many teams bring low-tech transport to zip across the Race Airport for meetings and meals.
Portable stairs: Getting into the tight confines of a raceplane cockpit is hard enough without having to clamber in. Portable stairs make all the difference.
Warm-up aids: It may look like fun and games, but items such as dartboards, juggling balls, and jump-ropes help pilots sharpen their focus and prepare physically.
Sunscreen and sunglasses: Whether teams are prepping to race or signing autographs, the sun beating down on the tarmac can be brutal.
Dianne Louwrens, team coordinator for Cristian Bolton Racing, mentions one more thing that can make all the difference in the hangar, and this time, it's intangible: "For us, it's really important to have fun, a sense of humour and jokes within the team!"
The next time the teams will be checking they've got everything they need will be Kazan on 25-26 August, get your tickets HERE.