After a few days of test flights, pylons were brought in and the training track went up! It’s been four months since Kirby’s had a chance to fly in a track, so our main goal was to have him regain comfort, especially with the transition back to the small tail.
“We tried to use [the small tail] last year, but the stability was off. Being about thirty percent smaller, it felt like the tail was on ice! We’ve added a few inches to the top and it has made a big difference,” remarks Kirby.
Our other goals were to fly clean, and fly smooth. In our sport, it can come down to a thousandth of a second between first and second place, so there’s no room for error. If you don’t fly clean, you can almost count yourself out of the race! And a smooth run is equally important. When we refer to smooth, we are looking for a flight path that doesn’t include unnecessary altitude changes. Climbing and descending throughout the course adds time, and every bit of it counts!
After a couple of days in the training tack, we switched into race mode. Air gates were rearranged to form the race track, and official practice sessions started.
“We did really well in this morning’s session, finishing first. Our second round was cut short due to an over-G, but I’m still feeling good going into Qualifying,” states Kirby.
“I think our team is following through with the plans we made during the off-season. It’s really helping our race flow, and we’re performing very well so far. But it’s not time to relax yet! We’re still going to work just as hard and focus on flying consistent. Like I say, race day isn’t until Saturday!”exclaims Paulo.
We hope to continue our momentum tomorrow and finish strong in Qualifying!
Watch the Red Bull Air Race Abu Dhabi Qualifying and Race Day on NBC! Tune in Friday, 7am ET online or on the NBC Sports app and Saturday at 9:30 pm ET on NBCSN!