Riding in a Red Bull plane

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As part of the build-up to the Abu Dhabi race, Arabian Business correspondent Ed Attwood was invited to take a spin (literally) in one of the Red Bull planes with test pilot Sergio Pla. He shares his experience:
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During the course of the short flight, Sergio performed several maneouvres from the race, including flying through the ten-metre wide, 20-metre high Air Gates, both vertically and horizontally.
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Sergio also treated me to a selection of loops, vertical climbs and a hammerhead – all of which were frankly equally terrifying.
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The g-forces during aerobatics of this type are quite astonishing; it’s as if someone is trying to push you through the bottom of the aircraft. G-force is especially strong when flying vertically, or when pulling out of a loop.
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In order to avoid blacking out during tight turns, pilots have to tense their abdomen and leg muscles, as well as taking shorter breaths to increase the flow of oxygen to the brain. \n

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Sergio was particularly adept at flying upside down. I found this especially disorientating. Keeping your eyes on the horizon is a good way of orienting yourself during the flight.\n

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The Red Bull Air Race returns to Abu Dhabi this weekend to begin another world championship season, with fifteen pilots hurtling around a four-mile track in order to try and win maximum points. Each highly tuned aircraft is required to fly through a series of Air Gates – built from ripstop nylon – in the fastest time possible.
Thu 25 Mar 2010 05:15 PM GST