Military skills transferred to motorsport
Matt Hall had a distinguished career in the Royal Australian Air Force and rose to Wing Commander. His years of training have taught him how to deal with pressure. "It's a sport and although there's pressure, I can compartmentalise it. I've flown in combat and been shot at, so I know how to cope with pressure!" said Hall. "From my training I learned to deal with high G for long periods of time, although this is higher G for a shorter duration it helps," he added.
Former Czech Air Force pilot, Martin Sonka believes that you have to fly in a similar way: "You have to fly aggressively in the Red Bull Air Race as you would in the military," he said. Sonka also brought other knowledge with him. "I prepare in the same way. The flight itself is the cherry on the cake, but there is a lot of work to be done before you get in the cockpit. And then it's down to how you use your preparation to benefit you in the flight," he explained.
Challenger Cup pilot Cristian Bolton agrees with Sonka in terms of similar flying styles. "Low altitude flying is my natural habitat, so I'm comfortable in the track. Other pilots might not be as used to it or have flown that low," explained Bolton. "Flying fighter jets has also taught me how to manage the energy of the raceplane better. It's the same concept and helps to keep the speed in the raceplane," added the current Major in the Chilean Air Force.
François Le Vot and Nigel Lamb both credit their philosophy on physical exercise to their days in the military. "The Air Force has made me prepared physically. I know that if I can't fly, I can still train my body. I do a lot of fractional training (High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)), which really helps," explained Le Vot.
Aside from the physical training, Lamb also feels his airmanship skills were learned during his days in the military. "The discipline has been ingrained in me. The way I conduct my checks, the way I fly and my airmanship has all been stuff I've done since I was in training," he concluded.