Making his Challenger Class debut this season, Patrick Strasser is the first Austrian to fly in the Red Bull Air Race since 2016. The Alpine nation is where the sport was born, and Strasser has promising credentials to continue the country's legacy, including an extensive background in commercial and competitive flight.
Born in Styria in 1984, Strasser can't remember a time when he did not want to be an aviator. "Since childhood, I had an urge to start flying as soon as possible," he relates. "I started building and flying remote-controlled aircraft, and when I was 15 I did my glider pilot licence at the small Timmersdorf airfield, 20 minutes away by bike. I always worked in the summer to earn money for flying." Strasser took part in glider competitions, got his gyrocopter licence, and eventually became flight operations manager at Timmersdorf. He earned his private pilot licence and powered aerobatic rating in 2007, and by 2008 he was a professional aerobatic pilot, flying an Extra 300LP and Extra 300S.
Since then, Strasser's aviation career has gone from strength to strength. He is an aerobatics instructor and trainer, and in competition, he has won national aerobatic championships and represented Austria in the European Powered Aerobatic Championships. As a Captain for Austria-based Pink Sparrow GmbH, he flies ambulance missions and plays a key role in training and direction of the company's staff. Strasser says his motivation is to give special meaning to his time in aviation: "To live my passion for aviation in connection with saving other people's lives completely fulfills me."
Altogether, Strasser has flown over 6,100 hours in nearly 60 aircraft models. As a member of Austria's aviation community, he also got to know the only other Austrian who has ever competed in the Red Bull Air Race, the late World Champion Hannes Arch.
"Red Bull Air Race gives me the chance to perform precise, fast and safe flying in low-level conditions between gates, and brings aviation very close to the fans. This combined with competition is the highest goal in civil aviation," says Strasser. "There are just a few pilots in the whole world who are allowed to do this, and it's an honour to have the trust of Red Bull Air Race. As a friend of the unforgettable Hannes and his family, I'm proud to continue his path as the second Austrian in the sport."