I’m happy to share with you this story of my come back to the largest of the United Arab Emirates who welcomed back the Red Bull Air Race in this new World Championship season. This year 2016 Abu Dhabi is hosting this amazing event for the 9th time with the racing taking place over the Arabian Gulf’s sparkling blue waters.
For this purpose a race village was built on the Corniche breakwater, spreading 8 kilometres along the pristine beachfront and giving to its fans front row seat in breathtaking views of the race as well as UAE capital’s impressive skyline.
Keys to success in this sport are technology and teamwork. Numerous pilots go with modified racers to the starting line, and many have expanded their team: Tactician and special software for the race analysis are indispensable. When Red Bull Air Race in Abu Dhabi to be seen which teams have the best prepared in the winter break. Part of the preparation in Abu Dhabi, incidentally, was also a special underwater safety training: The “Shallow Water Egress Training” the pilots were practicing for a possible emergency underwater.
ABOUT THE RACE IN ABU DHABI 2016
With the retirement of 2015 World Champion Paul Bonhomme, the 2016 title for the world’s ultimate motorsport series in the sky is anyone’s to seize, and the heat was on. The first race of the 2016 Red Bull Air Race World Championship was even hotter than expected in sizzling Abu Dhabi, as Nicolas Ivanoff of France blazed through the pylons to victory in a close and frequently astonishing competition.
The day was packed with shocks: Matt Hall of Australia, who was ranked number one after finishing second overall last year, hit a pylon and failed to advance beyond the opening round for only the third time in his career. Another top favorite, 2008 World Champion Hannes Arch, gave fans a similar surprise after flying brilliantly through the early rounds only to earn a Disqualification in the Final 4 for passing the Safety Line. Subsequently he was awarded 0 points.
FROM PHOTOGRAPHERS POINT OF VIEW
From photographers perspective the start of the season is by far the most interesting for me because the diversity of images that are required are always a big challenge and motivation. Photography part for me starts in the pool with underwater images during the “Shallow Water Egress Training” for pilots. The following photoshooting includes portrait images of all pilots which are being used for their personal portfolio and media presentations for upcoming season and for various other media purposes (magazines, brochures, etc.)
As the race is getting near we all work on recon flight which is usually the announcement of the race through specific photographs dedicated for media houses world wide with most interesting locations of the country or the city where the race is being held. This photoshooting I usually perform from the double seater airplane where I’m able to shoot the airplanes around me. There is also an easier approach for photoshooting and that is from helicopter point of view either from one side or from above.
The first training sessions are taking place soon after and the activities are getting much more intense because covering everything that is happening during the preparations before flying is super interesting.
Lifestyle photos of pilots in the hangars with their mechanics are fulfilling the atmosphere which describes the approach of the race day.
Besides photoshooting the pilots there are many other situations that are showing the rush before the race, behind the scene images, people working on the pylons (so called air gators), TV crew, communications staff and live transmission crew as well as safety divers and people on the boats.
Finally the race day begins with all the action, emotions, cheering and even sadness in some moments for the lost split seconds on the finish line. The only goal for the photographers that are covering this spectacular event is to present the whole story about the race and things that happen before and after to any viewer who could live the entire event through our photographs.
I’m looking forward to any future stop of Red Bull Air Race because of new and different photographic challenges that will be before us in some other country or other continent.