Port Elizabeth aerobatic pilot Patrick Davidson felt pretty special after being hand-picked to compete in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship next year.
Davidson 35, will put his individual flying skills to the test when he tackles the might of the adrenaline fuelled challenger class in 2018.
The global announcement was made in an article published on the Red Bull Air Race Website today. Italian pilot Dario Costa will also partake in the competition for the first time.
Last week, Davidson took one very nervous HeraldLIVE reporter for a ‘spin’ over Nelson Mandela Bay to demonstrate the thrill of his skill. Watch the video here!
Speaking from his family home in Seaview, Davidson said the competition would be tough, but that he was going into the competition with an open mind.
“It’s a completely new discipline for me, unlike anything I have ever done before,” he said.
I think it’s best to go in with an open mind, and learn as much as possible as quickly, he said.
Established in 2003, the air racing series pits the cream of the flying world in a competition against one another as they attempt to navigate a challenging obstacle course in the fastest time.
The challenger class in which Davidson will compete sees 10 of the world’s best aerobatic pilots go wing to wing in a battle at eight races across the globe, however, he is leaving nothing to chance.
“Seeing that there are only 10 challenger pilots, I think it’s the best of the best and all pilots would be tough competition.”
A breeding ground for the growth of the sport, the Challenger Class was introduced in 2014 to help outstanding pilots build their skills to the elite level necessary to potentially race in the World Championship.
Flying in race conditions is an important part of the Challengers’ progression and has seen seven former challenger pilots advance to the Master Class ranks.
Davidson said he was born into flying, with his father, Stu, being his trainer and mentor, while thanking his entire family for their extended support.
“They say behind every great man is a greater woman, I’m fortunate to have two in my wife Liana and daughter Mackenzie.
“I’m so lucky to have the support of my brother and father who will run things while I’m away,” he said.
He will make his bow on the starting grid at the French leg scheduled for April 21-22, but said he would be attending the Abu Dhabi, UAE race in February to see how things operate.
“I have been to some of the cities on the calendar, but there is also a lot I’ve never seen, and the locations on the calendar are not the worst cities to visit,” Davidson said with a smile.
Davidson said the gravitational forces on his body during any type of training flight he would do, sees forces in the region of +10 G’s [forces pushing from the shoulders into the seat] and -10 [forces pushing form the seat up to the canopy].
The 2018 Challenger Class Pilots will include 10 pilots from nine nations compete for the top spot. They are:
Mélanie Astles (FRA)
Florian Bergér (GER)
Kenny Chiang (CHN)
Kevin Coleman (USA)
Dario Costa (ITA)
Luke Czepiela (POL)
Patrick Davidson (RSA)
Daniel Genevey (HUN)
Daniel Ryfa (SWE)
Baptiste Vignes (FRA)