The Red Bull Air Races began in 2003, after Red Bull CEO Dietrich Mateschitz, a pilot and avid sports enthusiast, asked Peter Besenyei, Hungary's national aerobatic champion, to see if he could devise an air race for aerobatic pilots. Besenyei's idea was to pull together a small group of the best competition aerobatic pilots in the world-professional pilots with good judgment as well as good skills-and pit them against each other in a timed, low-level, slalom pylon course that also included some aerobatic maneuvers. The resulting competition is one where the pilots cross a start line-one at a time, as in a downhill ski race-which starts the clock. Then they have to maneuver their way through a series of horizontal (wings level) and vertical (wings in a 90-degree bank) "gates", which consist of inflatable, cone-shaped pylons. Just making the gates requires turns so sharp the pilots pull six to 11 Gs in the course of each run. But in addition, the races also require the pilots to perform aerobatic maneuvers such as Cuban eights, rolls, loops, or tail slides in between some of the gates. Not to mention things like flying under bridges or in close proximity to some really important national landmarks or buildings somewhere in the process. All this in a breathtaking 75-second run through a looping, zig-zag course only 1/3 of a mile long, and within as little as 20 feet off the ground-or, in some cases, the water-where the gap between first and second place can be as small as a few hundredths of a second.