Red Bull Air Race: 2009 According to Michael Goulian

Sheiban ShakeriSenior Analyst IAugust 13, 2009

DETROIT - JUNE 12:  Michael Goulian flies through a gate during a practice session for the 2009 Windsor, Ontario Red Bull Air Race on June 12, 2009 at the Detroit River in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

One of the unluckiest pilots in the Red Bull Air Race this season is undoubtedly American Michael Goulian.

As well, the man from Boston is one of the nicest guys on the field, but he has had to languish behind his American colleagues, Mike Mangold and Kirby Chambliss, who have both been Red Bull Air Race Champions in 2005 and 2007 for the former, and 2006 for the latter.

An experienced airshow pilot and aviator, Goulian has had a hard time of late in making it into the points and the podium in 2009.

It all started at the season opener in Abu Dhabi with an improperly connected antenna on his Edge 540 which didn't deliver live results to the race control tower during qualifying. As a result, he was disqualified from the second qualifying and had to fly in the Wild Card round on race day, but he wasn't quick enough so he left the Emirates with no points to his name.

Getting on home turf in San Diego wasn't much of a consolation either for Goulian as he was too slow in qualifying and only making it into the Wild Card round again. Taking four seconds worth of penalties in the race did not help his cause and this resulted in him taking an early bath again.

By this point, Goulian was one of two pilots who hadn't registered a single point yet—the other being rookie Pete McLeod.

Things changed when the Air Race made its Canadian debut at the Cross-Border Classic in Windsor with Goulian putting in a decent time in qualifying and finally not having to compete in the Wild Card round. He made it as far as the Super 8 round, but he hit a pylon in the quadro in windy conditions and had to perform a Safety Climb Out (SCO).

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Regardless, the American took six points to his name with a season-best sixth place. While not the result envisaged, he was able to take at least something—a positive note ahead of the two-month summer break before Budapest and the European rounds.

During the summer break and run-up to Budapest this season, Goulian has been attending various airshows and fly-ins such as the EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

Still though, it's not all fun and games for the Bostonian as he spoke with Bleacher Report about his summer, his goals, and his training.

Sheiban Shakeri: Over the course of the summer break this season, you were very busy with various fly-ins and airshows. Was anything done to the Edge 540 in terms of modifications to make it competitive in Budapest?

Michael Goulian: Even though the plane was en-route to Europe from North America during our break, the No. 99 Team still made modifications to our aircraft. Installed for the Budapest race will be some engine cowling modifications that will hopefully give us some more speed in the upcoming "river" tracks in Budapest and Porto.

SS: To keep yourself fit and ready for the European rounds of the Red Bull Air Race, did you undertake any sort of training or was it strictly fly-ins and airshows?

MG: I am constantly training physically to keep in top shape for the racing season. In addition to that, flying airshows keeps my "G" tolerance up.

SS: You have had bad luck this season right from the start in Abu Dhabi but made up for it with a decent sixth place and points in Windsor. What did you learn in the first two rounds when you just weren't making it through the Wild Card round?

MG: The first two races were simply frustrating for us. The lack of horsepower just left our plane a lot slower than the rest. I tried to make up for it with aggressive flying but that just increases the risk of penalties. In Windsor, we installed new engine parts which made us much more competitive.

SS: Finally, what's the goal for Budapest and beyond in 2009?

MG: I hope we can challenge for the podium in Budapest and the rest of the season. We definitely want to be one of the front runners.

Team 99 is an experienced team after debuting in the Red Bull Air Race in 2004 in Reno, Nevada. Still, after having gone through so much, the only way they can go is up and with all that's said and done, Budapest will be a race to watch to see if they can improve on their form.

Special thanks to Team 99 and Karin and Michael Goulian for taking time out of their schedules to speak with Bleacher Report.


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