Red Bull Matadors fly through hangar at 185mph, side by side (PHOTOS, VIDEO)
Leader Paul Bonhomme and wingman Steve Jones have been at it for 17 years, testing the limits of the possible with their precision and skill.
The pair, known as the Red Bull Matadors, blasted through a hangar at Llanbedr Airfield in Wales at a speed of 160 knots (185mph) while holding a steady altitude of three feet or just over one meter above ground.
Red Bull put up this giddy 360-degree video for a more intimate view, shot from Bonhomme’s Xtreme Air XA41 plane. You have to watch it in Google Chrome for it to work, Red Bull warns.
As Red Bull explains, the XA41 is a formidable piece of kit that has both power and ability to change directions really quickly, like a sports car for the air, to coin their expression. The engine can produce 315 horsepower, the same as a World Rally Car. The plane also produces speeds of up to 225 knots (nearly 260mph).
On top of that, the pair have their own bag of tricks – they’ve added a pair of mini-wings to both planes, allowing for faster turns. Red Bull says the aircraft can now turn 450 degrees in the space of a second.
That change is what made the stunt even more deadly. Jones put it this way: “If you even think about pulling the stick back, the nose of the airplane comes up… which is great if you’re at an air show, but if you’re trying to stay within a foot of a required height flying close to a building, then it makes it hard work.”
Of the actual barn stunt, Bonhomme says he had felt a curious “jolt” when ripping through the hangar with Jones next to him. He thinks this was possibly due to “the air temperature in the hangar being probably five degrees lower than the outside.”
“It was a sunny day outside, the concrete had warmed up and it was very still, so there was no air mixing. So I went through once at 160 knots and I probably did all the mixing that was required and we didn’t notice it again.”
The pair also had to take into a count a multitude of things that could go wrong before they even entered the hangar – including birds and engine problems. This way, Bonhamme says, any unpredictable circumstances could be avoided in time.