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Airspeeder announces the first-ever eVTOL racing pilots for its upcoming EXA Series

Infant eVTOL racing league, Airspeeder, has publicly announced its first three pilots ahead of its remotely operated EXA Series of Grand Prix taking place in 2022, followed by a crewed racing series in 2023. The first three eVTOL pilots come from different racing backgrounds and represent a new future of “flying car” racing.

Airspeeder is a newly formed electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) racing league headquartered in London. The league operates as an entity of Alauda Aeronautics – an electric aviation company based in Adelaide, Australia, where the league’s technical HQ is also located, alongside its testing grounds.

Alauda designs, engineers, and builds the racing aircraft called “Speeders” that participate in Airspeeder racing events. Both entities are led by CEO Matt Pearson, who began outlining plans for a future with eVTOL racing back in 2019.

This proposed future of “flying car” competitions came one step closer to reality this past November, when Airspeeder completed its first competitive drag race. Two internal Alauda teams duked it out to test the eVTOL racing technology, especially as pilots navigate from outside the vessels to start.

Currently, Speeders are operated remotely by pilots who sit in ground-based cockpits and use VR first-person view (FPV) haptic suits to control the eVTOL aircraft. That will continue through the aforementioned EXA Series this year.

However, Airpspeeder’s eventual goal is to train pilots well enough to deliver crewed eVTOL races to the masses. With the the company’s recent announcement, we now know the identities of three of the first-ever eVTOL racing pilots who may one day take to the skies against one another.

eVTOL racing pilot
Airspeeder’s first three eVTOL racing pilots from left to right: Fabio Tischler, Emily Duggan, and Zephatali Walsh / Source: Airspeeder

Airspeeder selects first 3 eVTOL racing pilots from pool of thousands

According to Airspeeder’s recent press release introducing the new pilots, more than 1,500 individuals applied to be part of eVTOL racing history. Many people clearly couldn’t make the cut, as Airspeeder has narrowed its application pool down to just three, all of which come with unique racing and/or drone-focused resumes.

Fabio Tischler is a German FPV drone pilot who relocated to Sydney in 2015 to pursue his dream to fly them professionally. He has traveled the world capturing drone footage for brands like Red Bull, Toyota, and Go Pro.

Joining him is Emily Duggan, currently one of Australian racing’s most successful drivers. In fact, Duggan became the first female driver to race in the Australian V8 Touring Car Series and has scored 12 wins, 33 podiums and two poles in her car racing career.

Last but not least is Zephatali Walsh, a surfer and Remote Piloted Aircraft (RPA) operator. Unlike his two new racing competitors, Walsh is the only with both multi-blade pilot experience and competitive drone racing experience, as he was recruited to the Drone Champions League in 2020 by Raiden Racing.

Airspeeder has its first eVTOL racing pilots as promised, but these aerial trailblazers have a long way to go before the EXA Series. According to Airspeeder, the pilots will log over 2,000 collective hours in Alauda Aeronautics’ VR simulator, which will mimic an MK4 eVTOL circuit race.

In this VR environment, the new pilots will stress-test the Mk3 and Mk4 Speeders inside Unreal Engine to simulate eVTOL racing, so when they do operate crewed flights, they’ll be able to handle the dynamics the Speeders can achieve. The league states its Speeder vehicles can deliver the same thrust-to-weight ratio as an F16 fighter jet, but with the added ability to perform F1 racing style hairpin turns.

This should make Airspeeder’s upcoming EXA Series a fun one to follow. The flagship series will consist of 3 Grand Prix in three different countries taking place later this year.

Initially, Airspeeder announced four teams would participate in the EXA Series. We have asked the racing league whether we can expect to see a fourth pilot announced before then. We were told the first EXA race will feature the pilots announced today, but two more teams and their respective pilots will be joining the Airspeeder fold in Q2 this year. Expect to see five Airspeeder teams competing by year’s end.

In the meantime, here’s an introductory video of the new Airspeeder eVTOL racing pilots:

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Scooter Doll is a writer, designer and tech enthusiast born in Chicago and based on the West Coast. When he’s not offering the latest tech how tos or insights, he’s probably watching Chicago sports.
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