Originally published in Alive Magazine
Baseball fans got an eyeful as the Cardinals faced off against the Phillies June 13 – the Red Bull Air Force Team, a twelve man group of daredevil extraordinaires, who specialize in high-flying, free-falling air sports, appeared in the St. Louis skies to cheer on the redbirds, landing elegantly near Al Hrabosky’s in front of hundreds of delighted spectators.
These courageous denizens of the sky encapsulate a multitude of aviation sports, including skydiving, base-jumping, hang gliding and more. The teams travel around the world (including feats in Dubai and the Caribbean) leaping from speeding planes to free fall through the atmosphere at breakneck speeds that can reach 160mph, touching down safely in front of a target audience with parachutes trailing behind them. There are even events that have the team leaping down a mountainside with a fast-opening parachute, reaching speeds of 70mph and cruising 500 feet before losing their momentum. While the tricks look spontaneous and risky, the team actually practice their death-defying bravadoes on a regular basis, and for many of these guys, flying like a superhero is a dream come true. “The camaraderie and being a part of the Red Bull family really gives you complete freedom as an athlete,” says team leader Jon Devore, 32, whose been with the team since its inception in 1999. Guess what they say is true: Red Bull really does give you wings.
In addition to plenty of YouTube material available, you can check out humanflight3dmovie.com, a cool 3D film about the team that is currently in production.