Red Bull Air Race newest star: the Air Tractor AT-802 Fire Boss
By Igor Bozinovski
The Red Bull Air Race World Championship is an official World Championship, accredited by the FAI – The World Air Sports Federation. The Red Bull Air Race features the world’s best racing pilots in a pure motorsport competition that combines speed, precision and skill. Using the fastest, most agile, lightweight raceplanes, pilots hit speeds of 370kph while enduring forces of up to 10G as they navigate a low level slalom track marked by 25-metre-high, air-filled pylons. It is a visual spectacle unlike any other – a pure combination of high speed, low altitude and extreme maneuverability!
The pilots of the Red Bull Air Race can all be identified by their raceplanes. As with any motorsport, the unique paint scheme is there to show the team and stand out from all of the others. And this brings us to Porto, the capital of Portugal where this year Red Bull Air Race happened on 2-3 September and featured an extremely unexpected “racing” bird – the floats equipped Air Tractor AT-802A Fire Boss fire-fighting amphibian!
Being part of the recreational program at Red Bull’s Porto race and flown by pilot Carlos Craveiro – the pilot with 24 fire-fighting seasons on his shoulders and most Fire Boss flight hours in the world (4.500+ flight hours on AT-802 from a total time of over 8.000+ flight hours) – the Air Tractor AT-802A Fire Boss overflew the Douro river in three occasions on both days of the air race amusing the crowd with the demonstration of its low-altitude speed (well OK, it’s not a race plane dudes!), agility and above all water-bombing fire-fighting capabilities.
Interesting to note is that involved aircraft was indeed the 700th produced civilian example of Air Tractor most famous product – the AT-802. Been completed in a single-seat AT-802A configuration and wearing serial number 802A-0700 the aircraft that now wears Spanish civil registration EC-MRT was rolled out in Air Tractor’s Olney, Texas-based factory on 20 March 2017.
Once tested and granted with all the necessary documents the aircraft was flown across the Atlantic Ocean to its owner, Air Tractor’s long-term dealer for Europe, Africa and Middle East – the Spanish, Valencia-based company Air Tractor Europe. Been fitted with a pair of Wipaire’s Wipline 10000 floats at Avialsa T-35 EASA Part 145 maintenance, repair and overhaul facility in Valencia, the aircraft was turned into Fire Boss amphibian following what it was promptly dispatched to Portugal to fight deadly wildfires there and in one of those few days of low risk to write the history as been the first Air Tractor that ever took part in world’s famous Red Bull Air Race World Championship.
ALL PHOTOS: Luis Andre Diogo