JERSEY CITY AND BEYOND -- The Red Bull Air Race New York soared over Jersey City’s Liberty State Park on Saturday.
During the two-day competition, pilots in high-performance aerobatic planes flying at top speeds from 230 to 265 mph, transverse a designated obstacle course with inflated pylons known as “air gates" in under 1.5 minutes.
Twelve pilots were in the hunt in Saturday's qualifier but only the 10 fastest pilots made the cut for Sunday's finals. The winner on Sunday will earn 12 points that counts toward earning the title of Red Bull Air Race World Champion in September.
After day one's competition, Austrian pilot Hannes Arch had the top time of 1:08.18 with Englishman Paul Bonhomme in 2nd place and Canadian Pete McLeod in 3rd. Americans Kirby Chambliss and Michael Goulian were in 4th and 5th respectively.
And seeing the high-flying action were thousands of local and international folks.
Bayonne resident Ron Lovicio came with his two sons and three nephews to check out the race.
"It's exciting, the high speed and high thrills, something that's never been here before," Lovicio said.
Dale Klapmeier, the co-founder of Cirrus Aircraft, an international aircraft manufacturer based in Minnesota, said even with his 30-plus years experience as a pilot, he is still in awe of the pilots in the race.
"I wouldn't be able to fly the way these guys are doing, they are the best," Klapmeier said. "These are the elites." - RK