With the World Championship racing taking place across the globe, the World Championship calendar demands that the raceplanes must be shipped and transported across three continents and eight different race locations. Each change in location means the raceplanes have to be disassembled, packed, unpacked and then reassembled. Now that the raceplanes have arrived in Spielberg, it's time to get these machines ready for flying next week.
"It's something quite extraordinary, an incredible experience!" said Kovalainen after 2015 Challenger Cup–winning pilot Mika Brageot piloted him on a G flight above the Persian Gulf. After racing in F1 for seven seasons, Kovalainen knows a little something about speed and G forces, but the experience in the sky was an eye-opener:
When the heat and humidity is high, what effect do the high temperatures have on the pilots?
TD: Heat is definitely a cause of stress that will impair your ability to perform certain functions. At the same time, your loss of water is accompanied by a loss of sodium and potassium. These are ions that are important for all sorts of cellular functions.
The 15-strong team is divided into three separate crews – the Airgators, responsible for the pylons, the Rescue Ops, who look out for the pilots, and the Racetrack Ops, who oversee everything inside the race box.
Marko van Es is in charge of setting up the racetrack. He's been involved in Red Bull Air Race since 2005 and jokes that only Peter Besenyei has been at more races than him. "My team and I are here for two weeks before the race, and for one week after," explained van Es.
"In the run-up to the flying over a race week we keep a watchful eye on the organisation to make sure everything is in order," said Jones. "It's just making sure everything is going to work as it should. We're looking out for issues that other people may not have spotted. We're there ultimately so on Race Day everyone can race safely and fairly," he added.
Are we going to see you racing again in the Red Bull Air Race?
"In the run-up to the flying over a race week we keep a watchful eye on the organisation to make sure everything is in order," said Jones. "It's just making sure everything is going to work as it should. We're looking out for issues that other people may not of spotted. We're there ultimately so on Race Day everyone can race safely and fairly," he added.
So the Racetrack Operations team, headed up by Ivanka Kösters and Marko van Es, need to make sure not only that everything is in place – but it's going to stay there. To do that they have just employed a new team member: the VideoRay Pro 4 ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle).
Barros has a history of aerobatic flying, which includes being the Brazilian national champion, but when it comes to racing between the pylons it takes a different skill set. Since his first race in Abu Dhabi, Barros has made steady improvement and starting to collect championship points. "I'm not looking towards the top results, I'm just looking to learn how to fly a good race," said Barros.
Inside all of the 14 raceplanes, you'll find a range of instruments that are designed to give the pilots critical information in a split second so they can make instinctive judgments about control inputs – as well as having data at their fingertips for speed and G.