The Team 99 EDGE 540 recently returned from its ocean crossing and has been re-assembled for some testing prior to its winter modification program. Team members Brad Huelsman and Tim Hess were able to assemble and test fly the airplane in just a couple of days after removing it from the ocean container that was “home” to the plane for a few weeks as it made its journey back to Boston from Barcelona, Spain.
The winter testing and modification program is already well underway. We are focused on getting the weight of the plane down to the minimum allowed by Red Bull Air Race regulations. Even after a lot of work to reduce the weight of the plane last year, we were well above the minimum, which gave us a pretty big disadvantage on the track.
In addition to weight reduction, we are building a completely new engine for next year which will surely have even more power than the current Lycoming Thunderbolt engine, which was very good. Tim Hess and Lycoming are working together to build a very impressive engine for next year. We are looking at maximizing horsepower while retaining safety and reliability. In terms of traditional aircraft engines, we’re paying attention to details that we’re sure have never been looked at before.
2009 was good because of our win in Budapest, but, we need to be consistent at every race if we want to place at the top of the podium come the last race of the season. That’s the goal. For Team 99 , there is no “off season”. The plane and the pilot are both getting ready for a great battle in 2010.