In less than a week, pilots will take to the skies at one of the most iconic stops of the 2015 Red Bull Air Race season! Held on the Danube River in Budapest, Hungary, the racecourse resides in front of the parliament building at the country’s capital.
Air Race Budapest is also home to one of the most memorable grand entrances, with each pilot passing under the historic Chain Bridge prior to reaching the start gate! While the height of the river does change, there is usually about 20-30 feet of clearance between the water and the base of the bridge. With Kirby’s Edge 540 V3 standing at a height of 9 feet tall (when in straight and level flight), his margin of error is only 10-20 feet.
Being one of two stops in the original Red Bull Air Race back in 2003, Budapest has remained a stop seven of the nine previous seasons (the only other location to appear this many times is Abu Dhabi, UAE). After a six-year hiatus from hosting the race, Kirby and the team are excited to return to Budapest! And why wouldn’t they be; the team has had a great deal of success at this location in previous seasons, making the podium five out of seven times! Placements as follows:
- 2003: 3rd
- 2004: 1st
- 2005: 2nd
- 2007: 2nd
- 2009: 3rd
After flying some very competitive times during training in Rovinj, Kirby is enthusiastic about the upcoming race. He and the team are looking to take home a trophy this Independence Day weekend, July 4th and 5th!
Stay up-to-date on the behind-the-scenes action by reading our Daily Diary entries and following our social media channels for live updates throughout the week!
Kirby is having a good time practicing in the Arizona Desert near the Flying Crown Ranch! Photo courtesy of Kirby’s GoPro
Rovinj, Croatia, was a tough break for Kirby! He faced fellow U.S. competitor Michael Goulian in Heat 5 of the Round of 14. Goulian flew first leaving the time to beat at 55.601 seconds. Kirby started fast and clean, which looked promising as he overtook Goulian in the first few gates. Unfortunately, he received two two-second penalties for flying too high in gates five and seven. Kirby’s final time was 58.886 seconds, bringing his competition to an end.
Winners of the Super Eight who moved on to the Final Four were Martin Sonka of Czech Republic, Hannes Arch of Austria, Mike Goulian of U.S.A., and Matt Hall of Australia.
Hannes Arch took first place for his second time in a row at the Red Bull Air Race Rovinj with a time of 54.012 seconds. Martin Sonka took a close second with a time of 54.083 seconds, followed by Matt Hall in third with a time of 54.160 seconds. Michael Goulian did not finish due to an over-G penalty.
Kirby placement in Rovinj was 11th overall. The team holds high hopes for Red Bull Air Race Budapest on July 5, 2015, hoping to make the podium for the first time this season!
The windy weather in Rovinj proved to add difficulty during the qualifying rounds, increasing the number of pylon hits and total track times by all. Kirby’s net time during flight one was actually faster than his second at 55.818 seconds, but a 2 second penalty for an incorrect level left a time of 57.818 seconds. Finishing 7th, he moves forward to the round of fourteen with a clean time of 56.098 seconds and will face fellow U.S. pilot Michael Goulian. Britain’s pilot Paul Bonhomme still holds first place with qualifying time of 54.226 seconds.
Day four was meant for training! As the pilots became more familiar with the course, overall track times continued to decrease. During training one on day three, Kirby’s fastest time was 58.710 seconds. By the end of day four, he was able to shave off 4.519 seconds, with a fastest time of 54.191 seconds! Kirby took the evening to rest and prepare for tomorrow’s qualifying round, working closely with Michael on course analysis.
Kirby’s takeoff from his home at the Flying Crown Ranch!
Today was the first day all pilots were able to practice in the racecourse, and it proved to be windy! Many pylons went down, including Kirby’s first hit of the season!
“Practice is when you are learning the track and figuring out what you are able to do. Better to hit a pylon in practice than during the race!” says Kirby.
The team also welcomed new member Michael Zyskowski of Microsoft, who works alongside Ashish Kapoor on technical planning and course optimization. After flying was over for the day, he was given a tour of the gates, both inside and out!
“They are so much bigger than I expected them to be!” exclaims Michael. Check out the photos below!
Day two at the airport was filled with flight! Kirby flew two test flights to make sure all was well with the airplane, followed by two recon flights over the beautiful city of Rovinj, Croatia, host to race three. He led fellow competitors Pete McLeod and Nicolas Ivanoff in the first flight, followed by Hannes Arch and Matthias Dolderer for the second. See some of the photos below!
With only five days between the end of Air Race Japan and the start of Air Race Croatia, everyone had just a few days rest! To the team’s excitement, there were no surprises on day one in Rovinj. The plane’s assembly was completed seamlessly, with additional help from team member Domingo. The team’s excited to get in the air tomorrow! Smoke on!
The day everyone’s been waiting for has finally arrived! Kirby and our newest member, Ashish Kapoor, spent the morning studying the track to find the most optimal flight path prior to start time. It proved to work in the round of fourteen, where Kirby beat Juan Velarde by 0.135 seconds, with a final time of 54.106 seconds.
Moving forward to the round of eight, Kirby flew 0.745 seconds faster than the previous with a final time of 53.631 seconds. It was looking great for Team Chambliss, but Matthias Dolderer managed to fly 1.266 seconds quicker, leaving Kirby in seventh place overall.
“I’m not going to be happy unless I’m in first place, so I just need to fly faster when we move on to Rovinj,” says Kirby.
With the race in Japan now over, Team Chambliss has high hopes for Rovinj, Croatia, the third stop of the 2015 Red Bull Air Race Championship May 30th and 31st!