Red Bull Air Race: Reporter's Diary, Day Four

Sheiban ShakeriSenior Analyst IJune 2, 2008

Quite a journey so far! After the VIP Lift Off Party that was held at the Detroit Science Center, myself and many others were excited at the prospect of some air racing after Saturday's unfortunate cancellation due to high winds.

After going to the media center to get the weather reports, press releases, and my daily dose of Red Bull, I went over to the Race Club area near the start/finish line on the Detroit River to watch the race and eat lunch.

The MCs of the race came on at about 12:30 and told us what was happening in terms of schedule. After that, a member of the Red Bull Air Force parachuted out of a plane and unfurled an American flag while the Star Spangled Banner played out for the audiences in both Detroit and Windsor.

After the opening anthem, the Canadian Harvard Aerobatics Team did a tribute to the pilots of WWII while we had a flyby by a Corsair and an F-14A, which both did dirty passes and other maneuvers—the F-14A did a flyby at Mach 0.98!

Once all the pre-race festivities finished, we were ready to rumble! Due to the fact that the qualifying runs were cancelled, there was a change in the qualifying schedule. Instead of everyone getting two runs on Saturday, with the best run counting and the bottom four all eliminated, all pilots did one run. The top four moved onto the flyoffs.

The atmosphere was exhilarating as all the pilots went through, with the best  celebrating their times by doing a few loops around the course!

Once all the pilots went through, it was down to four: Paul Bonhomme, Mike Mangold, Kirby Chambliss, and Hannes Arch. It was Bonhomme vs. Arch and Chambliss vs. Mangold.

Bonhomme and Chambliss went through to the first place flyoff while Mangold and Arch, a student of Mangold, went against each other for third place.

Once the flyoffs finished, American Kirby Chambliss took his first air race win since 2006, denying Paul Bonhomme a hat-trick, while Hannes Arch edged out his mentor Mike Mangold for the final podium place.

It was an exhilarating race to be present at, and the party atmosphere was everywhere. The only bad part was that it ended and I had to go home!

Photograph taken by Sheiban Shakeri