Florian Bergér is the first German ever to claim the Challenger Cup title and the only pilot of any nationality to have earned the honour twice. In 2018, he came within 0.05s of a hat-trick, but his ultimate goal is even higher: securing a spot in the Master Class that competes for the World Championship.
"The first time I got in touch with aviation was when my father took me for a ride. He's a pilot as well," remembers Bergér, who was born in Eichstätt in 1989. "Ever since, I've been fascinated by aviation."
Bergér began his career by piloting gliders and still cross-trains with them when time permits, in addition to flying the A320 as a First Officer for Lufthansa. Representing his country at international aerobatic competitions since 2014, his successes include third place in the team competition at the European Aerobatic Championships and numerous individual Unlimited medals at German Nationals, including a golden sweep of the German Unlimited and Freestyle Championships in 2018.
In the four Red Bull Air Race seasons that Bergér has completed since joining the Challenger Class, he clinched a total of 14 race podiums. Highlights include his maiden race win (Spielberg, Austria) and victory at his home race at Germany's Lausitzring, both in 2016 on his way to his first Challenger Cup title. The wins continued in 2017, when he successfully defended the title and topped the podium in San Diego and Budapest.
Despite the disadvantage of missing a race in 2018, Bergér very nearly took the season crown once again when he finished the year tied in the overall points lead (a countback of race placements made him runner-up). And he was on the podium in all four of his races, with second place in Budapest and Fort Worth, plus triumphs in Abu Dhabi and the legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
"I love that thrill when flying and racing at low level, especially since the transition to the even more agile Edge 540 raceplane in 2018," Bergér says. "I will try to use all my experience to get the title back, but the standard of all pilots has reached a very high level. Concerning tactics, I will focus on flying more aggressive, faster lines, which could sometimes mean all in or nothing."