As insanely dangerous as the event sounds -- it consists of flimsy-looking stunt planes weaving through a series of large pylons at 200-plus miles per hour -- there has been only one crash in eight years of Red Bull Air Races. It happened in 2010 in Perth, Australia, during a practice run when 36-year-old Adilson Kindleman of Brazil lost control of his craft, flipping it into the Swan River. He walked away with minor injuries.
That was enough, it seems, for organizers to put the event on indefinite hiatus, canceling the races scheduled for 2011, 2012 and 2013 to reorganize and address potential safety concerns.
All that has now been taken care of. The announcement came down yesterday that the Red Bull Air Races are coming back for 2014, and will make one of two U.S. stops in North Texas, flying into the Texas Motor Speedway in September.
"We like doing things no one expects," TMS president Eddie Gossage explained in a news release, an apparent reference to the fact that his facility is built for cars.
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So, what's changed since that crash in 2010? Wired gives a rundown:
[T]he minimum altitude pilots fly through the pylons has been raised from 65 feet to 80 feet, and some of the most extreme high-G-force maneuvers such as the sustained 270-degree turn called the "Quatro" have been eliminated.
But not to worry, pilots will still be pulling up to 10 Gs, and for anybody who hasn't seen the races yet, 80 feet is still crazy low to be racing an airplane at over 200 mph. The pilots will also being using a common engine and propeller combination in an effort to further increase safety (and reduce costs, we're guessing).
The Red Bull Flugtag this is not. Here's a clip showing what race fans can expect.