The 2007 Red Bull Air Race in San Diego (Photo: Christopher D. Blachly/U.S. Navy)

San Diego Bay’s a vision of beauty anytime, but it’s about to get downright dramatic overhead.

The Red Bull Air Race World Championship is returning to San Diego April 15 and 16. This thrilling on-the-wing competition, which pits more than two dozen Master Class pilots against one another, last took over the local skies back in 2009.

Staying at the Sofia—one of the finest San Diego Hotels—you’re only a few blocks from prime, bayfront viewing of the high-speed airborne acrobatics, so come take in the Red Bull Air Race action as our guest!

The Basics of the Race

The San Diego aerial racetrack is one of eight Red Bull Air Races held this year all around the world. (The other races will take place in the United Arab Emirates, Japan, Hungary, Portugal, Russia, Germany, and—for the climactic challenge—the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.) San Diego’s hosted races three times previously.

Fourteen Master Class pilots compete in these high-speed matchups. They will earn points based on speed, execution, and avoiding penalties. Two of this year’s competitors are Americans: Michael Goulian and Kirby Chambliss, a World Champion in 2004 and 2006. Also flying is Frenchman Nicolas Ivanoff, who triumphed at the last San Diego Red Bull Air Race in 2009.

The course over San Diego Bay consists of two laps and 15 Air Gates, which are inflated pylons standing some 80 feet high. Pilots must maneuver their “raceplanes” through these gates and perform some challenging turns at either end of the course: a 180-degree hairpin at one end, a Vertical Turning Maneuver at the other.

They’re racing against the clock while trying to pull off as flawless a flight as possible. The speeds involved are mind-boggling: These planes may reach 230 miles per hour as they tear through the course.

You can learn more about the innovative technology behind judging the Red Bull Air Races in this Digital Trends article: fascinating stuff!

Watching the Action

You’ll be able to watch the raceplanes do their thing over San Diego Bay from the Embarcadero Marina Park (North and South). To learn more and purchase tickets, visit the Red Bull Air Races official website.

Staying at the finest of San Diego Hotels, the Sofia, the Embarcadero vantage point is but a mile or so away. Enjoy the unmatched spectacle of some of the world’s best pilots as they square off against one another. Then come back to the Sofia to wind down: enjoying a meal at Currant American Brasserie, say, or a relaxing spa session, or a tasty drink beside the lobby fireplace…