This time last week, we had just finished celebrating Matt Halls’ 2019 Red Bull Air Race world championship win on the beaches of Makuhari Bay, Japan. Australian pilot Matt Hall had just been presented his world champion trophy, as we said goodbye to our fellow Aussies, before trying to out run the incoming typhoon.
With the impending Typhoon Faxai, Red Bull decided to shake up the final race day schedule. We began our pilgrimage to the seaside park early on Saturday morning, to ensure we didn’t miss out on any of the action.
At 8:30am we departed the Sheraton Grande, with our course set for Makuhari Bay. After a 30min express train journey, and a short bus ride we arrived.
Upon arrival, we were greeted by large crowds all making their way to the sea side, making an already extremely hot morning, a little more uncomfortable. Everyone had one thing in mind, to find the best spot for what was to be an awesome day.
For our group, this was our first ever air race, so we weren’t exactly sure what to expect. What I will say is, we were pleasantly surprised, and also sad that it’s coming to an end.
10am saw the start of the Masterclass series Round of 14 event, where all pilots laid down a lap time, trying to be one of the fastest 8 processing into the next round.
With the top 8 finalised, we had some time to check out the surround fan zone. Finding shaved ice with mango was on the top of our list. Honestly, it is the best way to conquer these humid 35 degree conditions.
After a bit of a walk around, and a quick sun shower. It was time to being the final countdown to the last two events of the championship. But first, we were entertained with some “support acts” including the White Arrows T-5 Aerobatic team.
And the, just like that, it was time to kick off the Round 8 and 4 events. It was time to look to the bay as aircraft after aircraft were cleared into the track, as 100,000 fans yelled “Smoke On!”.
Australian Pilot Matt Hall was up next, this was it. All he needed to do was fly a cool and calm flight to take home the silverware. Martin Sonka his main rival suffered a pylon strike earlier in the session, making Matt’s dreams all but in reach.
Overall, my first and last experience at a Red Bull Air Race was an awesome experience. Although the extreme sun, and heat made it slightly uncomfortable. The entrainment from the talented pilots made up for the “suffering”. For years I had discussed attending an Air Race, and I’m glad we chose Japan for this, sadly a few events too late.
It was such a buzz to experience an event like this, in a country that I’m falling in love with more and more each day.