It was a perfect day in sunny Southern California kicking off an action packed Easter weekend. San Diego hosted the second stop of the 2017 Red Bull Air Race tour on April 15 and 16, which hadn't taken place here since 2009. Beautiful blue skies and 70 degree weather brought spectators out by the thousands on their boats, balconies, and all along the waterfront. The primary hub of the race was set up at the North and South Embarcadero Parks which required ticket purchase for entry but allowed viewers to follow along in the standings and commentary of the competition. Luckily enough, the course was anchored smack-dab in the middle of the San Diego Bay which meant there were numerous areas to view the activity without actually paying an entry fee. I personally chose to watch from Harborview Park on Coronado Island because of the skyline views it offered as a backdrop.
Red Bull Air Race is an international racing event tour where pilots maneuver small front-prop airplanes through inflatable pylons in a time trial fashion. Pilots must keep consistent altitude levels when passing each gate or they are subject to penalties. Clipping the pylons with the wing of the aircraft will slice it apart (as shown) and will also negatively impact their score. Accurately flying the plane at speeds of over 200 mph while cruising less than 100 feet above the water generated plenty of thrill and excitement for everyone involved. If I had to compare it to something I would remark that it's a cross between an air show and NASCAR.
After countless laps flown and a weekend coming to a close, Yoshi Muroya, pictured in the turquoise blue Falken plane took first place to cap off this year's event in San Diego. With it being 8 years since the last Air Race was hosted here, I'm hoping it won't ever be that long without it happening again. Especially now that you've learned all about it I only hope you can experience it yourself next time.
Word and photographs provided by Brandon Van Zanten