In 2016, the USA's Kevin Coleman became the first American to fly in the Challenger Class of the Red Bull Air Race and – born in 1990 – he is one of the youngest pilots ever to contend in the sport. Also a longtime airshow performer and a former member of the U.S. Advanced Aerobatic Team, Coleman captured a win in each of his first three seasons of Air Racing, and he has twice stood on the overall Challenger Cup podium. In 2019, he is aiming even higher.
A Louisiana native, Coleman comes from a family of airshow pilots. He started flying and taking aerobatic lessons at age 10, taught by American aviation legend and Aerobatic Hall of Fame member Marion Cole. Coleman soloed on his 16th birthday and followed his private pilot's licence with a commercial licence two years later. He worked as a flightline technician while earning a bachelor's degree in aviation management from Louisiana Tech University, then launched his full-time aviation career.
At 17, Coleman was recognised as the Highest Placing First Time Sportsman at the 2007 U.S. Aerobatic Championship, and the next year he was third in the Intermediate category. In addition to his current competitive career in racing and his performances in airshows, Coleman works as a contract pilot, while on the ground his passion is the Marion Cole Memorial Scholarship, which he founded to assist young people interested in aviation.
The American turned heads in his 2016 Challenger Class debut with four consecutive race podiums capped by his maiden win at the UK's Ascot Raceway. His season ranking was an impressive third. Coleman followed up with three more podiums in 2017, including victory in Porto, Portugal.
In 2018, Coleman waged another strong campaign that saw him in the running for the Challenger Cup title right through the season finale, accumulating four podiums across five races. Besides clinching third place overall, highlights included a win in Kazan, Russia and trophies at both of his home stops, with second at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and third at Texas Motor Speedway.
"Being a Red Bull Air Race pilot is something that has been a goal of mine since I was 13," Coleman says. "I have been lucky up to this point to contend for wins, podiums and championships in all three of my seasons. I hope that I can continue to build on that legacy in 2019."