Red Bull Air Race Practice in Olney, Texas
If you follow this type of thing, you may have heard that the Red Bull Air Races are back (Wired - Crazy Red Bull Air Races Returning to the Skies in 2014). If you don't follow this type of thing, then here's a very brief background - the Red Bull Air Races consist of pilots flying light aerobatic planes through a series of pylons, at altitudes of less than 100 feet, doing some pretty amazing maneuvers to keep on course.
In preparation for their upcoming season, they decided to set up a mini training camp in Olney, Texas (Olney Enterprise - Pilots train for Red Bull Air Race). I guess they chose Olney because it's a nice big airport out in the middle of nowhere - perfect for the type of practice they're doing. And they kept the whole thing pretty hush hush. That Olney Enterprise article is the only online mention I've been able to find on them being in Olney, and it seems like the only reason they published that was so that the residents of Olney wouldn't question the giant inflatable cones popping up west of town.
But luckily for me, the company I work for does some flying down at the Olney airport, so some of our guys watched the entire Red Bull entourage come in and set up camp. So, I knew they were there, and knew they'd be flying. So, this past weekend, I went with a few of my friends to go watch the practice (and we were just about the perfect group to watch something like that - one aerospace engineer and three fighter pilots). It was great. Because of how quiet Red Bull had been about the whole thing, we were some of the only spectators there. So, not only did we get to watch some amazing flying, but we had an up-close and personal experience with the entire operation.
I managed to remember to take a few photos while I was there, but for the most part, I was just enjoying myself watching the flying. So, below are a few of the better pictures I managed to snap. Had I been more interested in taking pictures than just watching, I might have been able to get some better shots. (Click on any of the photos for a higher-res version.)
I also managed to capture a few videos. Just like with the photos, these aren't the greatest, since I was more interested in watching the goings on with my own eyes (not to mention the fact that I didn't have as good of a zoom lens for the video). And keep in mind that this was a practice, not a competition, so the pilots weren't flying the entire course every run, nor pushing it to the edge every time, especially in the earlier runs as they were getting used to the course.
All in all, it was a fun way to spend a Saturday morning, and a fine exhibition of some incredible piloting skills. I think I might just try to get tickets when they're actually racing at the Texas Motor Speedway.
Logo Source: Wikipedia