Superior Morning

Red Lake, Ont., air racer talks 1st 2018 competition, exceeding 12Gs in-flight

Red Lake, Ont. air racer Pete McLeod had a rough start to the season this past weekend during the 2018 Red Bull Air Race championship in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

Pete McLeod posted a 'Did Not Finish' due to excessive G-forces

Pete McLeod, an air racer from Red Lake, Ont., had a rough start to the season during the 2018 Red Bull Air Race Championship in Abu Dhabi, UAE, on Friday, Feb 2. McLeod posted a 'Did Not Finish' and was disqualified after exceeding the 12G limit. (Pete McLeod / Facebook)

An air racer from Red Lake, Ont., said he had a rough start to the season in the 2018 Red Bull Air Race championships in Abu Dhabi, UAE, as he, and other competitors, adjust to new regulations.

"It was a long weekend for me actually ... and a lot of positives to take away but I ended up with a penalty in the first round on race day and I ended up in last place," Pete McLeod told CBC Thunder Bay's Superior Morning.

"It was an over-G penalty."

McLeod said he was given a "Did Not Finish" after he was measured experiencing G-forces of over 12Gs on a turn in the opening elimination round on Friday, Feb. 2.

"There's a limit of 10 and 12Gs and I just barely exceeded the 12G limit," McLeod said. "They put that limit on for safety and they'll send you out of the tracks, so I didn't post a time on that run."

The air racer from northwestern Ontario placed third in the same race last year and described the experience as racing in a car without a speed indicator and trying to go as fast as you can without going above the limit.

"Of course it would be advantageous to be as close to that limit as possible ... but if you don't really know what it is, that limit is hard to feel out so its something that we see regularly," McLeod said.

He said in the first round, about two out of 14 air racers were disqualified for going over the force of gravity limit.

Built specifically for air racing, McLeod's Edge 540 V3 is "not your average Cessna," and is custom built specifically to handle high gravity forces and fast turns.

"Unlike a racing car which has breaks and slows down for the corner, in an airplane when we take a corner we don't have to slow down so that keeps the speed very high and we still want the corner to be very sharp so we have a fast time," McLeod said.

He added that one of the biggest misconceptions about air racing is that the race happens far up in the sky, when in reality, the racers are only about 10 to 25 metres high, racing through pylons as fast as they can.

"It's pretty physically demanding and again, that comes from the G-force and the manoeuvring of the plane," McLeod explained, "It changes direction very quickly."

"You are only in the race track for 60 seconds ... [but] you come out of there feeling like you did about an hour workout."

Although McLeod didn't get to improve his third place finish from last year, he said he's looking forward to the next race in Cannes, France on April 21-22.

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