Red Bull Air Race takes to the skies over San Diego Bay

Ariana Sanchez-Fierro and Ariana Sanchez-Fierro

Spectators, boaters, tourists and locals all had their eyes glued to the sky above San Diego Bay during the Red Bull Air Race World Championship that took place on May 9-10.

A total of 15 pilots competed for the top spot, flying through a course of pylons on the bay. Most planes reached up to 250 mph.

Nicolas Ivanoff of France earned the championship in the fast-paced race, completing his final round with a time of 1:17:21. Britain’s Paul Bonhomme trailed Ivanoff by 1.11 seconds, earning him second place.

Hannes Arch from Austria, the previous championship leader, earned third place. After experiencing turbulence because of a pelican, a grapefruit sized hole was left on the back of Arch’s plane. The blow cost him a two-second penalty, pushing him behind Ivanoff and Bonhomme.

“We usually come every year. It is always guaranteed fun and exciting to see how fast the planes go through the course,” said spectator Glen Hopkins, a San Diego resident.

It was estimated that nearly 100,000 spectators were present at the race. Many crowded around the boardwalk with beverages and cameras. Gasps and cheers roared through the crowd when pilots went through the course.

The Red Bull Air Race World Championship required pilots to maneuver their planes above the water through a course marked by giant pylons in the bay, with the goal to break world records and take first place.

The competing planes are among the fastest, lightest and most agile aircraft constructed, allowing their pilots to hit speeds up to 250 mph, withstanding g-force up to 12.