Pete McLeod

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Pete McLeod
Pete McLeod
Born (1984-02-23) 23 February 1984 (age 30)
Nationality Ontario, Canada
Racing career
First race 2009
Best position 5th (2010)
Aircraft Edge 540, Giles G-200

Pete McLeod (born February 23, 1984 in Kapuskasing, Ontario) is a Canadian professional aerobatic pilot whose first competitive flight was as a rookie pilot in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship in 2009.[1] Raised in Red Lake, a small town in Northwestern Ontario, Pete grew up playing hockey, hunting, fishing, snowmobiling, boating, and flying.[2]

Flying career[edit]

Truly a lifetime aviator, Pete received his first flight in the family plane at 6-weeks old.[3] McLeod’s mother, Margaret, recalled how at the age of six Pete would sit on his father Dave’s lap, hands on the control column during flights to remote lakes.[4] From that point on he learned to fly float and ski planes over Canada’s rugged north. McLeod qualified for his private pilot’s licence at 16, undergoing flight training at Harv's Air Service in Steinbach. Although he had yet to acquire a driver’s licence, flying was such a familiar experience by then that, while other students practised takeoffs and landings, he was off performing basic aerobatic maneuvers. He built up his flying hours over the next couple of years, earning his commercial licence and float endorsement at the age of 18. McLeod spent the summers flying fishermen to remote outpost camps.[4]

Although earning his aerobatic-instructor rating when he was 18, it was not until Pete took delivery of his first high-performance aerobatic aircraft, a Pitts Special, that he began flying serious competition aerobatics. The next year, 2004, was Pete’s first full competitive season and he went on to fly undefeated; winning multiple awards in his class, a United States Regional Series Championship, and became the 2004 North American Collegiate Aerobatic Champion.

With the completion of his Economics degree from the University of Western Ontario, Pete began his 2006 season with the decision to join the air show circuit and focus all his energy on professional aerobatics. Pete’s inaugural air show season exceeded expectations and paved the way for even greater results in 2007. His greatest accomplishment came at the end of the season with a 2nd place Advanced category finish at the United States National Aerobatic Championships. With his outstanding finish against both National and World team members, Pete cemented his position as Canada’s top ranked competition pilot and as one of the country’s top solo aerobatic performers. One of Pete’s biggest accomplishments in 2007 were earning his unrestricted surface level aerobatic waiver, thus allowing Pete to continue taking his flying to the next level. At only 24 years old, Pete is one of the youngest pilots in the world to hold such a waiver for high performance aerobatics.

Red Bull Air Race pilot[edit]

Pete's 12th place finish at the European Aerobatic Championships in the Czech Republic in 2008 earned him an invitation to attend the Red Bull Air Race qualification camp in Casarrubios, Spain, at the end of September 2008. Of the six pilots invited, five qualified for the ‘super’ licence required to compete in the world championship and McLeod was one of four rookies selected for active race status.

Pete McLeod joins the Red Bull Air Race World Championship in 2009. He is not only the youngest rookie ever to qualify for the Red Bull Air Race, he is also the first Canadian.

Prior to the 2009 season McLeod assembles a team of technicians and support staff who, just as in NASCAR racing, will form the ‘pit’ crew for his first year on the circuit. In addition to his Red Bull Air Race contract, sponsorships, endorsements and branding rights will finance his move into professional air racing. Among the first orders of business is modifying his new Zivko Edge 540 350 horsepower aerobatic airplane into a high performance racer.

During his first year on the race circuit McLeod says he will focus on development, working with his team to tweak the most speed possible from the aircraft.[4] He thinks "the setup is not going to be 100% for at least a year because it’s not just the pilot but the team that’s also learning. You don’t need the fastest airplane in the track in your first year because there’s so much to learn".[5] He is looking to increase his own abilities as a race pilot, gain experience, fly fast, safe and incur minimum penalties.

McLeod's goal is to become a strong presence in the top 5 pilots in his 2nd and 3rd seasons. "I would like to become world champion by the time I'm 30 years old", says Pete McLeod.[6]

“I was basically raised in an airplane,” said McLeod, who said he was captivated by the Red Bull Air Race when he first saw a film clip of a race five years ago. “I started aerobatics at 16 and for the last five years I’ve been eating, breathing and sleeping competition aerobatics, air show freestyle and the Red Bull Air Race. The first time I saw a video of the race I knew that without a doubt it was something I wanted to compete in. I enjoy freestyle aerobatics but it lacks the competitive aspect that the race has. I want to measure myself against the top pilots in the world.”


The Red Bull Air Race World Championship continued its break from racing to restructure the business model after rapid growth, it has been stated that organizers are targeting a 2014 return for the season. Pete performed at 15 air shows across Canada in his Edge 540 aircraft during the summer of 2012. Pete McLeod is a Red Bull Athlete.
The Red Bull Air Race World Championship was put on hiatus by organizers to restructure the business model after rapid growth. Pete performed air shows across Canada in his Edge 540 aircraft during the summer of 2011. Pete McLeod is a Red Bull Athlete.
2010—5th place overall, Red Bull Air Race World Championship
5th Place - Red Bull Air Race - Abu Dhabi (UEA) - 7 points
5th Place - Red Bull Air Race - Perth (Australia) - 7 points
7th Place - Red Bull Air Race - Rio De Janeiro (Brazil) - 5 Points
9th Place - Red Bull Air Race - Windsor (Canada) - 3 Points
5th Place - Red Bull Air Race - New York City (USA) - 7 Points
8th Place - Red Bull Air Race - Lausitz (Germany) - 4 points
2009—15th place overall, Red Bull Air Race World Championship
15th Place – Red Bull Air Race - Abu Dhabi (UEA) - 0 points
15th Place - Red Bull Air Race - San Diego (USA) - 0 points
11th Place - Red Bull Air Race - Windsor, ON (Canada) - 1 point
13th Place - Red Bull Air Race - Budapest (HUN) - 0 points
14th Place - Red Bull Air Race - Porto (POR) - 0 points
12th Place - Red Bull Air Race - Barcelona (Spain) - 0 points
12th Place – European Aerobatic Championship
Announced: 2009 Red Bull Air Race World Championship Rookie
Red Bull Air Race Super License Holder
Unrestricted Surface Level (0 ft) Aerobatic Display Waiver
2nd place Advanced Category, U.S. National Aerobatic Championships
B.F. Goodrich Award recipient at the U.S. National Championships
Youngest Canadian air show performer
Seven 1st place and two 2nd place career finishes (9 career competition events to date)
North American Collegiate Aerobatic Champion
Mid-America Series Champion
Undefeated in 2004 with five 1st Place finishes
Four time winner of the Highest Scoring Pitts Award
Posted highest percentage point average in North America – 90.67 %
1st place, Ontario Open Aerobatic Championship (first ever competitive event)
Completion of highly recognized Emergency Maneuver Training course.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b McLeod, McLeod. "Pete McLeod Racing". Retrieved 2008-12-12. 
  2. ^ "Canadian Rookie Youngest Ever Red Bull Air Race Pilot". Red Bull Air Race GmbH. 2008-11-24. Retrieved 2008-12-12. 
  3. ^ Difalco, Salvatore (2008-12-09). "Pete McLeod". Toro. Retrieved 2008-12-12. 
  4. ^ a b c Clayton, Reg (2008-12-09). "Red Lake bush pilot prepares to take on the Red Bull Air Race series by the horns". Lake Of The Woods Enterprise. Retrieved 2008-12-12. 
  5. ^ Sheiban, Shakeri (2008-11-03). "An Hour With Pete McLeod Part II: Career, Early Ambitions, Tech and More!". Bleacher Report. Retrieved 2008-12-12. 
  6. ^ "Introducing Pete McLeod". Red Bull Canada. Retrieved 2008-12-12. 

External links[edit]