Bull Air Race Pilots Go Down Under For Safety Training
April 18, 2010 –
Red Bull Air Race pilots got the opportunity to train for emergency
underwater escape scenarios ahead of the second race of the 2010 season
The training, for an emergency that has never before happened in a Red Bull Air Race, included underwater escape exercises to prepare pilots for a worst-case scenario – being trapped inside an aircraft following a water ditching.
“We really need
training like this,” said Martin Sonka of the
“It’s one thing to talk about how to get out of a plane but it’s
something completely different when you’re really in the water and
upside down. It’s a brand new situation for most of us, to be under
water and fastened to your seat belt. It’s very good training to stay
calm and to think clearly.”
American Michael Goulian agreed with Sonka that training for the
worst-case is useful and training to deal with the initial feelings of
panic is extremely valuable.
“The scary part is you can’t see what’s going on, up is down and down is
up,” he said. “We’re used to that in an airplane in the race but not
when you’re breathing in a bunch of water. The hardest thing is that you
really want to panic, that’s what’s happening. There’s water rushing in,
your eyes are closed so you can’t really see, so you have to find your
way, where’s my window, how do I get out of here?”
Goulian, delighted to get the chance to practice things under pressure
such as reaching for his oxygen bottle, said the most challenging part
for him was his seat was upside down under water. He said it is
comforting to know that at every Red Bull Air Race there are teams of
divers trained and ready to quickly come to their rescue.
“When the airplane is rolled upside down, that’s the hardest part. This
is the best preparation we’re really going to ever get. The seatbelt
combination is similar. It’s good that we get to use the oxygen bottles.
But we know the Red Bull Air Race divers are there to help us as well.
And that gives us a lot of confidence.”
“In a real
situation there’s a lot more going on obviously,” he said. “There’s a
pretty big impact when you hit the water. I think it’s pretty useful.
Just stay calm.”
training to get exposed to this before a real emergency,” Hall said. “It
gives you confidence. You know what to do. We’re used to being upside
down. But definitely not used to water going into your nose.”
“We had to get out
our oxygen bottles and start using them,” he said. “It was the first
time I tested that under real conditions. It worked out pretty well but
I think in a real emergency it’ll be totally different. I think it’s
important to test and prepare for an emergency. It’s crucial for us to
The Red Bull Air
Race operates under the strictest safety regulations and has strong
safety procedures in place across every single aspect of the race.
Alejandro Maclean of
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