Building a race airport

At every location on the Red Bull Air Race calendar an airport has to be built or customised ready for the racing. It takes a strong, resilient team to cope with building a race airport in very little time. And it tests the boundaries of mental strength when the weather plays havoc with preparation.

Walter Prettenthaler of the Airport Operations team makes sure his crew can overcome any obstacle to get the Race Airport ready.

The team arrive at the airport long before any of the pilots, teams or raceplanes arrive and have to work long days to ensure that when they do arrive everything is ready for them.

In testing weather, which we've seen a lot of this year, it can take a lot more effort for Prettenthaler and his team. At Chiba in 2015 the team had to assemble, and then disassemble, all the hangars due to the threat of high waves breaching the sea wall. Prettenthaler made sure his 11-man team remained positive throughout and also kept to their goals. "We know the process really well," said Prettenthaler. "That was really helpful because as soon as we put up the hangars, we had to start striking them down," he added.

The reason they had to break down the site was because the salt water would cause problems. "We had to save the materials. There's 5km of wires running through the hangars and they would've been completely destroyed by the water. In fact the only thing that wouldn't be ruined or corroded was the framework," explained Prettenthaler.

When it looked like they were going to struggle to reassemble the hangars, Prettenthaler had to call in 20 local helpers to make sure everything was ready for when the pilots needed to fly. The lesson has also made him prepared for anything and he knows he can always rely on his team, "I have a great team, they're mentally strong and always positive." he concluded.

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