Alright... got a minute? Here's my story.
My interest in aviation is casual. As a teenager I was hot to pursue a career as a pilot but was convinced that the only road to that goal went through the military. My horrendous eye sight and my distaste for authority kept me on a different road.
So I started seeing these TV ads for the Red Bull Air Races. It looked pretty cool, it could be fun to go down to the Detroit River and check it out for a day. Went to the website a couple of weeks ago only to find that the designated veiwing areas had sold out already. Figured we might just head down there and find a spot on our own, but ya know, I figure we might go do something adventurous quite a bit more often than we actually do it.
So Friday afternoon I'm listening to the local student radio station WCBN
because well.... its a really fun station and I try never to miss the Tight Pants Program
After back announcing the DJ explains that a listener has just called in and donated tix to that Red Bull boat thing going on this weekend. By this time I've got my phone out and I'm poised to press send as soon as he says that he'll give them to the first caller. To my chagrin he asks for the fifth caller. Press send I did, it rings, I'm the first caller and I tell him I was really hoping he was going to ask for the first caller 'cause I was jazzed to get these tix! Call back he says. I do, the phone rings, I'm the second caller. First and
second I tell him. Call again he says. I do, the phone rings, I'm the third caller. First, second and third
I tell him. Try again he says. I do the phone rings, I'm the fourth caller. I'm going for the clean sweep I tell him. Are you the same guy that was caller one, two and three he asks. Yes I am I tell him. Well screw it, the tix are yours he says. Sweeet!
He says I'll be on the guest list and I should show up at the Stroh River Place by noon. This makes no sense. The race is a fair ways down the river from the SRP and why do I have to get there two hours before the show starts? Oh, these aren't just tix to the race he says, they're tix to a party cruise. Check out the site.
Well the boat was really
cool. The food was pretty good, the music was mediocre and the drinks were free. The crowd (300 of us) was largely much younger than my lovely wife and I and quite a lot of them seemed to know each other already. The atmosphere, I would estimate, was that of a dance club that I would try to leave quickly if I found myself there.
The race..... was not a race at all. A race is to see who can finish first. This was a time trial. The planes went one at a time as Tog explained. They were, however, quite amazing. They fly low to the water, between 10 and 60 meters. They have to fly between and around inflatable gates, in precise position (some gates require flying with wings parrallel ro the water and some require perpendicular position). Halfway through the run they must climb to an altitude of ~200 meters then back down to complete the course. Uh.... this
video explains things much more clearly and there are some good pics here
The thing that really struck me was the maneuverability. They would roll 180 degrees in the snap of a finger and change directions just as fast. Very cool to watch.
So I promised to snap some pics for this little report, and I did. Twenty seven of them. There were definitely some cool shots to be had as they did aerobatics directly above us before they flew into the course. It was so bright and sunny that I couldn't really see the camera screen but I figured if I just aimed the camera to my best estimation of where the plane was, I was sure to get a good shot or two. I was wrong. There are some great pics on the third link in this post though.
If you have Fox Sports Network you can check this all out starting in July. If you have Fox Sports Detroit it will be on July 27 at 6pm.
So anyway, this lucky dog had a good time at the RBAR. If you have an interest and the opportunity I would reccommend you check it out. I really don't think they should call them races though.