Kopfstein on his Master Class dream

When the Red Bull Air Race World Championship returned in 2014, it brought with it the Challenger Cup and the opportunity for pilots to practise their low altitude, high speed flying in race conditions. Petr Kopfstein took the title in its first year by winning the final race of the season.

2015 saw him return in the Challenger Cup where he claimed four podiums and two race wins. In the offseason, the Race Committee invited him to a training camp where he gained his Unrestricted Superlicence and access to the Master Class. He is now just over a month away from his first race with the elite.

The Czech pilot has spent years perfecting his flying with conventional, and not so conventional, methods. To better understand aerodynamics, he has spent time in a vertical wind tunnel, practising his skydiving. "I'm trying to better understand how the wing of the aircraft works. The airflow helps me think about my flying and how I can be smoother. Although it's different to flying in a raceplane, and you're flying using your entire body, it's helpful.

"I don't know if there's a direct correlation between using the wind tunnel and my racing, but I feel that my orientation in the air gets a lot better after I've been in the wind tunnel. The movements I have to make are fast, meaning the brain is working very quickly; it's good preparation for racing," he explained.

When Kopfstein won the Challenger Cup in 2014 he said that it felt great and a dream come true, but: "Of course, the biggest dream would be to move up to the Master Class."

Now that dream is a reality and he knows he has a tough task for 2016. "It is a great honour to become part of this unique group of aviators in the Master Class – on the other hand, it is a huge commitment. The first year will be a season of learning, testing and tuning, but we want to do it quickly and become competitive as soon as possible," said Kopfstein.

He is under no illusions that 2016 will be a hard year but is keeping level-headed. "While we have high ambitions, our expectations are down to earth: It will be a tough and challenging season," he concluded.

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