Red Bull Air Race World Championship

15 Oct 2017

Red Bull Air Race 2017: 'I have opened a door'

Melanie Astles (FRA) became the first female pilot to win a Red Bull Air Race when she won the Challenger Class at the Red Bull Air Race in Indianapolis.

The win came after she was fastest in Qualifying on the Saturday. When bad weather meant the racing was cancelled on the Sunday, the results stood and she was declared the winner of there weekend’s racing. 

After her historic win, she explained what it meant to her. “I’m really happy for this victor. When I flew the Qualification round I guessed it would be the race as I had seen the forecast, and so I played it like it was a race. But I wanted to fly today – I am happy for my first win but I wanted to win today too.”

She said that being the only woman in the Red Bull Air Race presented unique challenges. 

“It is not easy to be a girl in a man’s world. Technically it is the same, but there are some different psychological effects of being a girl. You are opening a door. But there is no difference in the air.”

She added: “I am so proud. I have seen a lot of girls out there who dream of becoming a race pilot. When I was a young girl I dreamed of becoming a fighter pilot, but I could not because it was not allowed, so I am very pleased to be opening this door.”

She said she hoped the 2018 season would see continued success. “Next year I will be there for the title. Last year I was seventh, this year I am fifth. Next year I will be on the podium and hopefully in the first place.”

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Photo: Joerg Mitter / Red Bull Content Pool