Kenny Chiang is the first pilot from Hong Kong to compete in the Red Bull Air Race, and since joining the sport's second competition category in 2017 he has wasted no time in putting his homeland at the top of the podium. In only the fourth race of his premiere season, Chiang gave Hong Kong its maiden win with an impressive effort in Kazan, Russia. And, at the stop in Wiener Neustadt, Austria in 2018 he made more history when he became the first Challenger Class pilot to win both races of a double header. Now, the 29-year-old is continuing to expand his skills while also pursuing his passion of raising awareness about aviation at home and beyond.
Chiang has been captivated by flight since childhood. He took his first flying lesson at the age of 13 and was awarded his pilot's licence at 17. That same year, he attended the Red Bull Air Race in London, UK – and a seed was planted. He began learning aerobatics, meanwhile joining an international airline at 19, becoming one of the youngest pilots in history to fly a 747 and 777.
By age 24, Chiang had already flown aerobatics in locations including the UK, the USA, Australia and South Africa. In 2014, he became the inaugural pilot to represent Hong Kong on the global stage of aerobatics, claiming a bronze medal in his World Championship debut – the first World aerobatics medal ever awarded to an Asian competitor. Altogether he has flown well over 40 types of aircraft.
Chiang's 2018 Air Racing campaign saw him take third place in an exciting return to Kazan, but the highlight of his season was unequivocally his double-win in Wiener Neustadt. The achievement was made even more notable by the fact that the racetrack – at a historic natural-terrain airfield with grass runways – featured a rare "standing start," a skill that is tricky even for the pilots in the World Championship.
"I was very happy with that result, which was definitely a confidence builder," Chiang comments. "I know I am fast, but I just need to be more consistent and perform when it matters. For 2019, I am feeling great and there are a few things I will be changing in terms of how I prepare prior to a race. I can't wait to put the plan in motion."