1977 – present – Air Race Classic
The Air Race Classic took the reins of women’s air racing in 1977, the same year that the AWTAR was discontinued due to rising costs. Each aircraft is assigned a specific handicap, with a goal of having actual ground speed as far over the aircraft’s handicap speed as possible. Handicap scoring was implemented in order to give each team an equal chance of victory. The first few Air Race Classics were flown solo, with shorter legs and more stops. Today the Air Race Classic is flown by a pilot and copilot, with longer distances (280 to 320 miles) and fewer control stops. The entire race is approximately 2,400 statute miles, and each contestant is given four days to complete it, flying only in VFR daylight hours.
2000 – present – European Air Racing Championship
The Royal Aero Club oversees the European Air Racing Championship, in addition to a number of other air racing leagues. After hosting the British Air Racing Championship for decades, the organization wanted to attract a wider audience of European competitors, thus founding the European Air Racing Championship. The European Championship is held within the Royal Aero Club’s typical racing season. The European Air Racing Champion is the pilot whose point total is the highest after completing six races held at three different venues, which has included airfields in the UK, France, Spain, the Channel Isles, Ireland and the Isle of Man.
2003 – present – Red Bull Air Race
Established in 2003, the Red Bull Air Race is arguably the most well known air race today. The Red Bull Air Race World Championship is an international series of air races in which competing pilots speed through an obstacle course in the fastest time, weaving through what are called “air gates.” Pilots fly individually against the clock, and the top 10 finishers at the end of the weekend earn points. At the end of the season, the pilot with the highest combined point total is crowned Red Bull Air Race World Champion. Races take place all over the world in major cities, airfields and natural wonders.
2005 – 2010 – Aero GP
The Aero GP was an international air racing series consisting of three events: Air Racing, Air Combat and Barnstorming. Competing pilots raced on the same course at the same time, flying just a few feet from the ground and from each other. The Air Racing event was a simple air race around a tight circuit, with eight aircraft racing at once. Air Combat was a “dogfight” where pilots would try to outmaneuver one another while attempting to “shoot” their opponent down. The Barnstorming event could either be aerobatics, stunt flying or precision target dropping, depending on the venue. The first Aero GP took place in 2005, and the final series took place in 2010.
2014 – Air Race 1 World Cup
The Air Race 1 World Cup is a 10-lap, 50-kilometer “Formula One Air Racing” event. Formula One aircraft are small planes built specifically for racing. According to F1 Air Racing’s technical rules, “Only Teledyne Continental ‘C’ series or 0-200 cylinders (or their licensed versions) may be used in Formula One racing.” All eight pilots race simultaneously, and the first aircraft to cross the finish line wins. All competitors, men, women, old and young, compete directly against each other, regardless of gender or age.