The pilots were all smiles as they shared the class photo moment at the Yard of Bricks that harks back to the time when the entire oval was paved with 3.2 million red bricks. With the location officially granted Federal Aviation Authority airport status ahead of the race, capturing this special moment in history marks a big milestone for the ultimate motorsport series in the sky.
Vorderman, famed for being a maths genius, is a pilot, but had never been given the chance to see what the Challenger Class pilots get up to in the cockpit.
Ben Murphy and Carol Vorderman have known each other for many years, but this was the first time they had flown together, so she was thrilled to be given the opportunity to fly through the iconic pylons.
Walter Prettenthaler of the Airport Operations team makes sure his crew can overcome any obstacle to get the Race Airport ready.
The team arrive at the airport long before any of the pilots, teams or raceplanes arrive and have to work long days to ensure that when they do arrive everything is ready for them.
At the end of 2015, after 10 seasons of competition, Besenyei retired from the sport to spend more time with his family and to fly air shows. On Saturday in Budapest, his home race, the Hungarian legend was honoured at the Qualifying Day Press Conference.
Erich Wolf, the General Manager of the Red Bull Air Race presented Besenyei with a one-off custom made book full of highlights from his career along with signatures and well wishes from all his friends in the Red Bull Air Race.
The G3X replaces the traditional gauges used in the raceplane and other aircraft. It gives the pilots the data they need on one screen so they can focus 100% on their racing. The G3X can also collect all the data necessary for the team analyst to help the pilot improve his race line.
Three teams have installed the G3X so far in their raceplanes. Team Goulian and Team Garmin arrived in Abu Dhabi with their new displays. And Hannes Arch had his put in place ready for the race in Spielberg.
Racetrack Ops will be on site earlier in the week to undertake the racetrack build – a mighty task that falls to the specialist team of Airgators. The Airgators are responsible for the pylon construction, repair, maintenance and disassembly, and along with the rest of the Racetrack Ops team, are typically at each race location for up to two weeks before and one week after each race.
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.