On a beautiful autumn Saturday we took the train in to Perth to watch the Red Bull Air Race World Series stop here on the Swan River (http://www.redbullairrace.com). If you're not familiar with this, Wikipedia describes it this way:
"[Red Bull Air Race Championship] is an international series of air races in which competitors have to navigate a challenging obstacle course in the fastest time. Pilots fly individually against the clock and have to complete tight turns through a slalom course consisting of pylons, known as 'Air Gates'."
This year the series includes races in 8 different cities around the world. From what I can tell, this race in Perth won't be on TV in the US until later in the summer there. We'll let you know if the cameras caught us watching. (We know they were on us but not sure if it made the cuts.)
It's quite a scene to watch. People like us line the shores of the Swan River across from the Perth CBD. A course consisting of 8 or so air gates is set up on barges in the river. The pilots take there turns on the course flying up to 265 mph and pulling over 10 Gs on some of the maneuvers. If they hit an air gate (like they did 3 times today), the inflated pylon just loses its air and drops. Within minutes they fix the gate and inflate it, and the racing continues.
Today we saw the "Qualifying Rounds" where 14 pilots took 2 runs on the course trying to qualify for tomorrow's finals.
Earlier in the week during practice runs, a Brazilian pilot crashed into the water. Amazingly he was rescued quickly and had only minor injuries.
Karl captured some video today showing one pilot's run:
Here's a map that shows the loops and turns required on the Perth course.
This panoramic photo is compiled from several photos I took today. On the left you might be able to see the plane entering the starting gate. By the time I took consecutive photos from left to right, the pilot was doing his loop at the right end of the course. (click to enlarge)