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Tuesday, 16 June, 2009 9:50 PM
British flyer tops weekend of aerial wonder on the Detroit River
DETROIT -- On the weekend of June 13 through the 14th, the water boundary line between two countries on the Detroit River became host to a familiar aerial competition. It marked the return of the Red Bull Air Race, an annual series of competitive airplane challenges held around the world, to the region.
Though hosted in its previous visit on the American side of the river, this year’s competition was based in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, the third stop of a worldwide season in aerial racing. Still, accommodations were made along the Riverwalk to give attendees and sidewalk viewers a good view of what happened in the sky.
In the Renaissance Center, the entrance area served as a welcome and info center for everyone watching on the American side. It was an atmosphere that maintained an aerial theme, right down to volunteers dressed in retro flight attendant garb.
The format of this competition was for each visiting pilot to maneuver his plane around and through an obstacle course of large pylons in record time. “It’s all about shaving,” said Sean E., who was volunteering his second local Air Race. “Inches and tenths win races.”
Although a total of fifteen pilots from around the world were invited, the field was dropped to thirteen since Yoshi Muroya (Japan) and Peter Besenyei (Hungary) never had starts according to the Red Bull website.
By the time the final plane went through the yellow finish cones around 3:30 p.m., the winner of the weekend-long event was Paul Bonhomme of Great Britain. His final flight came at a winning time of 1:08.16
As the sky-watchers maneuvered through the RenCen as the final day’s events ended, there remained a sense of appeal for the air races. “I’ve been to air shows out at Selfridge, but this is something [else],” said attendee Ken Knasiak.
Aaron Burzynsky from Lake Orion expressed a sense of awe over
what was put on display. When asked what he would most likely
expect if the Air Race returned next year, Burzynsky replied,
“I anticipate a higher level of aerial acrobatics.”
How the bar is raised would have to be seen as the season progresses.
Photo by Matthias Hangst / Red Bull Air Race via AP Images
United States pilot Mike Mangold competes in the qualifying session at the third round of the 2009 Red Bull Air Race World Championship in Windsor, Canada, June 13, 2009.
WATCH: Interviews with the Top 4 pilots in Windsor, Ontario
Courtesy of the Red Bull Air Race
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