When Red Bull Air Race and pilots are mentioned, they all become logically connected with flying. My photo story is totally different because everything happens underwater, not in the air. Because some racetracks – like Abu Dhabi – are over water, the pilots are required to undergo SWET training, whether they are in the Master Class that competes for the World Championship or in the feeder Challenger Class. SWET training enables the pilots to develop specific safety skills and gain valuable experience by practicing underwater escape techniques in a realistic environment.
Under the guidance of a specialist team, and using a stripped-back fuselage submerged in a pool, the pilots carried out a series of drills designed to familiarise themselves with breathing apparatus, as well as the correct techniques for exiting a fuselage underwater and dealing with disorientation.
Adding to the challenge, once the pilots have mastered the basic SWET procedures, they wear goggles that obscure their vision, to simulate egress in murky water. Being part of this project and the underwater training itself creates a special pleasure for an underwater photographer.
The whole procedure of SWET training is very interesting by itself, so my motivation for this photography was at a particularly high level. As a diving instructor (SSI Open Water Instructor), Subal Ambassador (Subal Underwater Housings) and Mares International Ambassador, my stay underwater turns into almost unique feelings like in many everyday and normal life situations.
For this reason, the procedures that the Red Bull Air Race pilots go through point out something completely different from the usual, and so the photographic challenge underwater moves to a completely different level, and this feeling conveys both to me and my view through the lens.
Being part of a diving team underwater and taking photos of the best pilots in the world is another of those lifelong privileges that I often talk about through my articles. This is certainly one of these projects!