Side Quest: Red Bull Air Race Qualifiers

Japan is hosting a round of the Red Bull Air Race for the first time this year. I’ve always wanted to see one of these races in person, so we head over to Makuhari, Chiba to watch a qualifier.

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The entrance gates to our area.

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Lots of people show up on qualifier days, probably due to the lower ticket prices.

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Yoshihide Muroya is clearly the fan favorite in his home country.

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On the beach things start to get crowded. I guess we arrived a little later than everyone else.

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We catch a couple of practice runs from our first vantage point. Watching the planes race through the pylons is pretty exciting. The pilots fly so low, almost always sideways, using knife-edge techniques to squeeze through the gates.

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After some wandering around, we find ourselves seats in the sand.

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These guys work on building a dirt mound to give themselves a better view of the course.

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Cameras cocked and ready for the next run.

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Safety crews may have the best view of the action.

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But our new spot is pretty good, too.

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From here we get a good idea of just how low those planes fly.

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And since the course doubles back through this section, we get a double dose of racing.

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I’ve loved planes since I was a kid, so it was awesome to see these guys race in person. Check out the Red Bull Air Race series if you get the chance for an up-close look at some awesome flying.