The First Flying Car Race Series Launches This Year—Meet the Three Pilots Selected to Compete

BY Zacc Dukowitz
26 January 2022

Since 2019, Airspeeder and Alauda Aeronautics have been working to create the world’s first electric flying race cars.

Airspeeder is the host of the EXA racing series, which will feature uncrewed—that is, remotely piloted—flying race cars this year. And Alauda Aeronautics is the maker of the flying cars.

Airspeeder describes the upcoming EXA series as “the first electric flying car Grand Prix.” (The series will host its first races this year, but it doesn’t look like dates have been made public yet.)

One big goal of the race series is to work toward developing crewed races, in which pilots will fly the eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing) craft from inside the vehicles instead of remotely.

Wondering who will fly these futuristic machines?

Only three pilots for now, according to Airspeeder: a race car driver named Emily Duggan, a drone racing pilot named Zephatali Walsh, and a world-renowned FPV drone pilot named Fabio Tischler.

Meet The World’s First Racing EVTOL Pilots | #FIRSTDRAFT

The craft the three pilots will fly in the EXA series is an eVTOL multicopter called the Alauda Airspeeder Mk4.

The previous generation of this vehicle, the Mk3, was tested in remotely controlled flights in Australia last year under the supervision of Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

alauda-airspeeder-mk3
Credit: Alauda

How The Three Pilots Were Selected

The three pilots selected to fly in the EXA series are the finalists from a group of over 1,500 who first threw their hat in the ring back in 2019.

Although piloting skills were important in choosing these pilots, another key factor in the selection process was how well equipped each pilot was to develop the technology and sport itself.

This emphasis is underscored in Airspeeder’s announcement about the pilots, in which they refer to them as “development racing drivers”—because they’ll not only be flying, they’ll also be working to develop the sport.

These individuals have been chosen because of their ability to work in lock-step with the greatest technical minds to help develop both an entirely new form of game-changing technology and the very fundamentals of a [new] sport . . .

– Airspeeder

Now that the three pilots have been selected, the next step is for them to undergo a rigorous training and development regimen. Before competing, the pilots will log over 2,000 hours in Alauda’s Aeronautics 6-DoF VR simulator, which mimics the Mk4 in a virtual environment.

During development, engineers will also be working to develop a suite of safety systems. Using LiDAR and RADAR, Alauda plans to pioneer the creation of a suite of safety-focused technologies they call a “Virtual Force Field,” which will allow pilots to fly in “blade-to-blade proximity” without colliding.

Meet the Three Pilots

Here are the three pilots selected to fly in the EXA Racing Series.

Emily Duggan—Race Car Driver

emily-duggan-airspeeder-pilot
Credit: Airspeeder

At heart, I am a racer. I’m joining Airspeeder to push the boundaries of motorsport and make history as the world’s first winning electric flying car racer.

Emily Duggan is one of the leading female race car drivers in Australia, and the first woman to race in the Australian V8 Touring Car Series.

Duggan is known as being hands-on when it comes to the development of race cars, often working on the mechanics behind the cars she races.

Zephatali Walsh—Drone Racing Pilot

zephatali-walsh-airspeeder-pilot
Credit: Airspeeder

Racing has always pushed the limits of what is possible for both humans and their creations. I’m excited to help shape a flying-car future personal transport for my son’s generation.

Zephatali Walsh is an Australian drone racing pilot who competes in the Drone Champions League (DCL) with Raiden Racing. He was first drafted into the DCL in 2020.

He also has a background in environmental science, an interest that could potentially dovetail with the development of clean-air eVTOL technology.

Fabio Tischler—Professional FPV Drone Pilot

fabio-tischler-airspeeder-pilot
Credit: Airspeeder

I’m an instinctive racer and driven by my motto to “stop thinking and start flying.”

Fabio Tichsler is a pro FPV drone pilot who has worked for big brands like GoPro, Toyota, and Red Bull. In 2015, Tichsler moved from his home in Germany to Australia so he could pursue his dream of flying drones professionally.

Tischler recently won GoPro’s Million Dollar Challenge with this video:

Check out Tichsler’s FPV drone work on his Instagram channel.

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