The 2016 Red Bull Air Race Challenger Cup will have three new contenders in the eight-pilot field, including Mélanie Astles, a five-time French aerobatic champion who has earned top 10 rankings at World and European levels. She is the first woman to compete in the sport.
Astles will compete against fellow debutants UK’s Ben Murphy and U.S.’s Kevin Coleman.
Murphy is a former commanding officer and team leader of the RAF’s Red Arrows display team. Coleman, from the US Advanced Aerobatic Team, is the first American to join the ranks of the Challenger Class and will be the youngest competitor this season.
The new pilots will make their debut at the Red bull Air Race World Championship in Abu Dhabi on March 11-12 March.
The Red Bull Air Race World Championship features the world’s best race pilots in a competition that combines speed, precision and skill. Using the fastest, most agile, lightweight racing planes, pilots hit speeds of 370 kmh while enduring forces of up to 10G as they navigate a low-level slalom track marked by 25-meter-high, air-filled pylons.
In 2014, the Challenger Cup was introduced, giving new pilots the chance to develop their low altitude flying skills.