The Red Bull Air Race Says Thank You

The pilots and members of the Race Committee offer their thanks

After 14 seasons, the Red Bull Air Race has seen its last take-off, and now, it’s time to say thank you. Turning an improbable idea into an official World Championship could have happened only with the enthusiasm, innovation and dedication of a passionate community. Our appreciation goes out to the extraordinary pilots and race teams as well as our experts behind the scenes, who have all dedicated their energy and talents to achieving the best possible outcomes. Each of them played an essential role in realising the shared dream of a high speed, low altitude sport in three dimensions. Much gratitude also goes to our collaborating organisations, from host cities to partners, sponsors and the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI). And last, but most definitely not least, a heartfelt thank-you to all the fans who have followed the Red Bull Air Race and its amazing pilots and teams. You have been an inspiration and will always be members of the Red Bull Air Race family.
– The Red Bull Air Race Team

AND FROM THE MASTER CLASS PILOTS…

Cristian Bolton, Chile: “First I would like to say thank you to my wife, Connie, because she allowed me to do all this crazy flying all around the world for a couple of years. And to say thank you to my amazing team, because it’s been a privilege and an honour to work with them. It’s a big family and we are going to keep together, which is the most beautiful part. And also to the fans, who have made me a better man, a better pilot. I’m humbled by that.”

Mika Brageot, France: “Big thanks go to all those individuals and organisations who have supported the team over the last years. We’ve been extremely lucky with the brilliant sponsors we’ve had – starting with Breitling during most of my Air Racing career, right through to Eyetime for this final season – who have all shown incredible support and enthusiasm for the sport and the team. My personal sponsors Jetfly, AGC and Breitling France have provided unwavering encouragement, and we’ve really enjoyed having them attend races and activities. It’s an incredible journey we have shared together, and one I hope will continue outside of the Red Bull Air Race.”

Kirby Chambliss, USA: “The person who I want to really thank is Mr. Mateschitz. What he did is amazing, honestly, because this is the coolest aviation event ever. I think he’s changed aviation a lot, all for the better. There are so many kids who come up to me now and because they’ve watched us in the Red Bull Air Race, they’ve chosen a profession in aviation, from pilots to mechanics and everything else. So for promoting general aviation overall, I’d like to thank him. It’s been awesome, and personally, from me, thank you very much.”

Matthias Dolderer, Germany: “I want to send a huge thank you to all my supporters, sponsors, fans and family – and to my team – for having made it possible for me, first, to participate in the Red Bull Air Race, and further, to become World Champion. That was extraordinary, and I will never forget it. I will remain World Champion my whole life, and that was a very special moment in Indianapolis, and the whole 2016 season, actually. In fact, all the 10 years from when I joined the World Championship in 2009 have been very special. And I was even involved behind the scenes in the Red Bull Air Race since the planning stages in 2002 – I’ve been here since day one. So a big thank you, thank you very much to everyone who was involved. We will miss it a lot, and we hope to keep in touch with all our friends and fans. It has been amazing to share this time with you, and we look forward to seeing you again in the future!”

Matt Hall, Australia: “Basically, thanks to everyone. Thanks first of all to Mr. Mateschitz for giving us this opportunity. I’ve been involved in this sport for the last 12 years of my life, so an amazing opportunity. Thanks to all the task force and the media and all the guys that put this thing [together] in the background. Obviously, the fans. You know, it’s not a sport unless you have fans turn out to support it. And the sponsors as well, who are out there keeping the ball rolling.”

Nicolas Ivanoff, France: “First I would like to thank Peter Besenyei for helping to originate the Red Bull Air Race, having a crazy idea to do a contest like this. And also I want to say thank you to Red Bull and Mr. Mateschitz, because while it may seem normal now, at the beginning it seemed like a crazy project. And I also have to say thank you to all the teams working behind the scenes on this project, from the first team at the beginning to now this team – I know a lot of people are working. We cannot see them, but they are working a lot. And for sure I want to say thank you to Hamilton for following me since the beginning in 2005. That for sure was important for me. And now thank you to my race team, both the current team and my previous one. And I have to say thank you to the weather, also. Because for the most part, the weather was not so bad during all these races! I am so happy to have been involved from the beginning. I saw the whole evolution of the race – of the track, the teams, the planes. There are not so many who have seen that. So I’m super happy for that.”

Petr Kopfstein, Czech Republic: “I would like to thank the team, first of all, because they spent a lot of time travelling with me, away from their families, spending a lot of time together. I think we will be lifelong friends. It was such an amazing journey that we had together, and we will never forget that. I would also like to thank the organisation for the opportunity, because it was incredible, and I’m really grateful for that. It was something that completely changed my life, in a good way. And of course my family, because without them and without their support, it wouldn’t be easy to be here and be away from the kids, etc.”

Francois Le Vot, France: “I am grateful for my family, absolutely. I’m also very thankful to have gotten to know my mates, the people on the other teams. This is a family, too, and this family gave me the opportunity to go through very exhilarating experiences for five years.”

Michael Goulian, USA: “This whole thing has been an amazing ride. For me, my first series was in 2006, so I’ve seen a lot of it. I think the biggest thanks goes to Mr. Mateschitz. He really believed in the dream, and he believed in Peter Besenyei’s idea. General aviation owes a lot to Red Bull, because they inspired a whole generation of young people to go become pilots and to dream, and I think the Red Bull Air Race had more impact on aviation than people believe. And other than that, my wife and my daughter have been huge supporters of me traveling all around the world. And then, I’ve had some amazing sponsors that have supported me the whole time, which has been fantastic. And in the past few years we have assembled an amazing team of people, and the memories that I’ve made with the team will last a lifetime. There are so many stories behind the Red Bull Air Race that are created every day, but people don’t see them. And then the honour of flying with some amazing guys. It’s been really fun to try to compete and win against not only pilots, but teams that are so good. Because this is a team sport – you win as a team and you lose as a team.”

Pete McLeod, Canada: “It’s been a great time for me, this 10-year period. And I’m thankful, obviously, to Red Bull for creating this whole thing – giving us a playground that a guy like me could only dream of, to get in the aeroplane and go and do what I love the most. So that vision from Mr. Mateschitz and the Red Bull company is special. And of course all my other partners all the way who allowed me to do it, and the fans who have supported us along the way, my family – my wife puts up with me being gone all the time, doing this. So all the usual suspects. But for sure it all comes together, and it’s a cool thing that I’ve had an opportunity to do. Who knows what the future has in store, but I’ve definitely enjoyed the ride so far.”

Yoshihide Muroya, Japan: “I want to thank everyone, but there are too many people involved: all the sponsors and teams and families. Everyone is really committed. It’s a lot, for 10 years. I just fly, that’s the easy part, but others are working really hard in the background. So everyone working in the background I really deeply appreciate.” 

Ben Murphy, Great Britain: “I’d like to thank all the fans, partners and supporters who have been such a key part of our Red Bull Air Race campaign, and in particular my wife, Kirsty. Our sponsors Aerobytes and Zyrad Cables are fantastic collaborators, and our whole team – Neil Furness, Andreas Kaufmann, Izzy Robertson, Rebecca Allen and Andy Offer, have been outstanding. Everyone has worked so hard.”

Martin Sonka, Czech Republic: “I want to thank the fans and our sponsors. And I will definitely organise an event in the Czech Republic to thank everyone, because the sport during the last few years has been amazing for us, and for Petr [fellow Czech pilot Petr Kopfstein] of course. It’s incredible.”

Juan Velarde, Spain: “I want to take advantage of this opportunity, after five years of competition, to thank Repsol for their unconditional commitment. Thanks go to Hamilton, as well, for pushing us a lot in the last years and for their warm collaboration. And also thanks to all our fans, those people who follow us on social and who have come to the circuits to see the races. We really feel their support and very much appreciate it.”

AND A FEW MORE…

Jim “Jimbo” Reed, Red Bull Air Race Technical Director: “I’m thankful for the experience, and the opportunity to travel all over the world. But more than that, I am beside myself with gratitude for the ability to get to know these 300 or 400 people, whatever the number is, because they are the most amazing family I’ve ever been a part of. That’s easily the number one thing I’m thankful for.”

Steve Jones, Challenger Cup Race Director: “I’m very proud of the pilots in the Challenger Class. I think they deserve praise for behaving themselves and flying very nicely, and generally impressing everybody. So I’d like to thank the Challenger pilots for being very good and learning quickly and flying safely – and to thank their technicians for looking after their aeroplanes. Often technicians don’t get much thanks, but they should be remembered, because they maintain these aeroplanes. And the Challenger aeroplanes get a lot more flying than the Master Class aeroplanes. They get two or sometimes three pilots flying them at each race. So the Challenger technicians should get thanked as well.”

Jim DiMatteo, Race Director: “I am happy to thank those who have had such a huge impact on Red Bull Air Race, and on me, personally, for the past 14 years that I have been involved with this wonderful sport:
–    My first thank-you goes to Mr. Mateschitz and Red Bull for making this all possible, and for trusting in us to create such a wonderful aviation sport. The collateral impact that maybe no one else in Red Bull knows is that by combining the world of aviation with one of the most youthful and coolest brands on the planet, Mr. Mateschitz has had an incredibly positive impact on the aviation industry worldwide. Again, Dankeschön Mr. M.
–    My second thank-you, for sure, goes to my amazing family – my wonderful wife and incredible two children – who have had their dad miss many birthdays, anniversaries and other special days due to me being gone with the Red Bull Air Race. I love you!
–    A huge thanks to all of the pilots, especially the Master Class pilots, who have worked with me so professionally and respectfully over the many, many years. I have incredible respect for all of you. I love you all and thank Red Bull Air Race for introducing me to you, as I am sure we will be friends forever and will absolutely share the skies again some day!
–    To the Aviation department, it has been a true honour and privilege to work alongside such wonderful people and fellow aviators, all of whom have poured so much passion, time and effort into this sport. I am humbled and grateful to be able to call you all friends. 
–    To many of the Race Control Tower Team, we have shared so many wonderful times together from the best vantage point of a Red Bull Air Race that anyone can have. You have managed and guided such a spectacular aviation sport. I am proud to be part of your team, as you all have done an incredible job for so many years.  
–    To ALL the others involved with the Red Bull Air Race, from Comms to Race Teams to Event Production to Safety to Hospitality and more: it has been one of the best experiences of my life — Thank You All.
–    To the unbelievably supportive spectators and fans for so many years: Thank you for your support and your passionate following of the Red Bull Air Race. Without you, nothing would have been possible.

Lastly, I can say nothing more special than to thank all of the incredible people above and say a final ‘Red Bull Air Race, thank you for the unbelievable ride… SMOKE ON!!!!!’

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