Red Bull Air Race Pilot Alejandro Maclean Dies In Plane Crash


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Red Bull Air Race Pilot Alejandro Maclean Dies In Plane Crash

By Jim Douglas

August 18, 2010 - Red Bull Air Race pilot Alejandro (Alex) Maclean, died today at the age of 41 following a fatal accident in his native Spain while carrying out aerobatic training for an Air Show. The entire Red Bull Air Race community and the aerobatic fraternity have lost one of their most vibrant and passionate characters. Maclean was a husband to wife Emma and a father of two children aged 7 and 12.

Maclean was a significant contribution to the growth and development of the Red Bull Air Race over the past six years and to aviation in general will be remembered forever by those who shared this journey with him. The Red Bull Air Race, established in 2003 and created by Red Bull, was an international series of air races in which competitors have to navigate a challenging obstacle course in the fastest time.


Pilots fly individually against the clock and have to complete tight turns through a slalom course consisting of pylons, known as "Air Gates". Red Bull Air Race World Championship Series organizers have cancelled all events scheduled for 2011 worldwide. The races are held mainly over water near cities, but are also held at airfields or natural wonders. They are accompanied by a supporting program of show flights. Races are usually flown on weekends with the first day for qualification then knockout finals the day after. The events attract large crowds and are broadcast, both live and taped, in many nations. 

Maclean, the former captain of the Spanish national aerobatic team began his Red Bull Air Race career in 2003 and was a key figure in the evolution of the championship. A fiercely competitive streak led the Spaniard to accelerate the development of the MXS-R with fellow pilot Nigel Lamb and Alex kept his longstanding technician busy with an aggressive modification schedule. 

Known at the Race Airport for his expressive Latino temperament, Alex was a deeply sensitive and emotionally charged character who fought against obvious frustration when results weren?t forthcoming. Despite this, he continued to push forward with his loyal team and finished the 2010 season on a philosophical note, taking personal responsibility for a disappointing result. 


While he worked his race team hard and expected absolute commitment, Alex treated his technician Jesus Canadilla, team coordinator Carola Bisci and coach Eneko Larumbe like family. He showed a deep respect for those who supported him and placed great value on building genuine friendships. Definitely not one to suffer fools gladly, the articulate and considered pilot often made journalists work hard for their quotes but his level of introspection and self-awareness added a fascinating dimension to any interview. His colorful character was a welcome contrast to many of the more reserved pilots. 

Outside the Red Bull Air Race, Alex was a dedicated ambassador for flying and was recently named as the 2010 recipient of the prestigious Paul Tissandier Diploma for his contribution to sporting aviation. Fascinated by the idea of flight since childhood, he started flying ultralight aircraft before moving on to high performance aerobatic planes and was a celebrated competition pilot on the European stage before embarking upon the next chapter of his career with the Red Bull Air Race.


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