Sunday afternoon in Las Vegas, Paul Bonhomme captured his record-setting third Red Bull Air Race World Championship. Bonhomme is well-known for his aerobatic skills, but he also happens to be a 747 Captain for British Airways.
At the post race conference, Bonhomme said, “I knew it was going to be hard work, everyone was on their game. We seemed historically to come out of the blocks well… that was pleasing, then it was pretty obvious that everyone else was catching up. Up until 3 o’clock this afternoon, I had no idea what was going to happen.”
Bonhomme won four of eight races this year, taking the 2015 Championship by five points, over Australian Matt Hall. Hall won this weekend’s race in Las Vegas, with Bonhomme taking second. Third place for the 2015 season went to Austrian pilot Hannes Arch. Captain Bonhomme, age 51, has been flying on the Red Bull circuit since 2003, and is the most successful pilot in the Race’s history. He got his pilot’s license at age 18, and has been flying aerobatics for 29 years. American pilot Kirby Chambliss finished 12th in Las Vegas, and 11th overall for the 2015 series. He spent much of the 2015 season making adjustments to his Zivko Edge 540, including winglets and a new canopy.
Also this weekend in Las Vegas, the Race also celebrated the career of 59 year-old pilot Peter Besenyei, of Hungary. Besenyei has retired from competitive flying with 22 podium finishes over nine seasons, including eight victories, and the inaugural world title in 2003. He is known as one of the pioneers of the sport.
You build a homemade airplane and launch it off a ramp, over a body of water, using only human power… what could possibly go wrong? Now, add in costumes, music, and the world’s most popular energy drink, and you have the world-famous Red Bull Flutag.
In German, “Flutag” translates to “Flying Day,” and Red Bull has announced that the Flutag will be returning to Portland this year, on August 1st at the McCall Waterfront Park. Flutag events have been held worldwide for 23 years.
Flutag teams are comprised of five members. Teams are judged not only on flight distance, but creativity and showmanship as well. In case you were wondering, the world record Flutag flight distance is 258 feet. Perhaps Portland’s proximity to Seattle (site of Boeing’s assembly plants) will influence some true aviation engineers to get involved. For design inspiration, the Flutag videos on YouTube are pretty incredible, and hilarious!
Flutag events are known for drawing 50,000-80,000 people, and they look like an absolute blast! I’ve never attended one, but I am hoping to make it to PDX for this one, so consider this a PSA. Applications for PDX Flutag teams opened on March 18th, and close on May 12th, with only the first 500 applications being considered. You can apply online at redbullflutag.com. More information about the event is also available on Facebook at the Red Bull Flutag Page.