It takes three people-pilot, copilot, and flight engineer-to operate a DC-6. Strobl, in his personal writings on the aircraft, notes, "To bring the landing gear up or down, you are pushing or pulling a big red lever. Sometimes with both hands, if you haven't been to the [gym recently].... We are talking about serious aviation machinery here."
As Captain Doug Lee swoops between the Alps and tips the polished wings to offer a better look, passengers in the spacious cabin take in a rare close-up view of Austria from about 5,000 feet above valley level.
The Flying Bulls aircraft collection shuttles from airshow to airshow around the globe. The Red Bull aerobatic team-which at times accompanies the Flying Bulls and other times flies exhibitions on its own-has performed the world over, from Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada to its home turf in Austria. The larger aircraft, like the DC-6, are parked row upon shiny row in static display for the visitors.
At this year's AirPower 2005, Austria's largest airshow, 250,000 people came to watch the Flying Bulls fly and display their hardware. There are also Red Bull-branded aircraft on the Red Bull Air Racing World Series circuit. These particular pilots fly their aerobatic aircraft through a terrifying slalom course, zipping between enormous plastic pylons at dizzying speeds (see "Red Bull's Rodeo," Apr./May 2005).
A large part of the genius of Red Bull lies in its marketing. The flashy flying and the gorgeous airplanes are evidence of Mateschitz keeping tight control on how his brand is presented to the world at large. He markets the energy drink directly to participants and hangers-on at extreme sports events, airshows featuring his aerobatic racing team, and the ultra-luxe Formula 1 auto racing circuit. For the moment, Mateschitz refuses to send the Flying Bulls team to France for any airshow demonstrations because France hasn't yet authorized the beverage's sale. The French are wary of the high caffeine level (80 milligrams per can-less than the amount in a cup of coffee), as well as the as-yet unquantified effects of the other two primary ingredients, taurine (an amino acid) and glucuronolactone (a carbohydrate).
France's position aside, it doesn't look like the Flying Bulls will be grounded anytime soon. There are just too many exciting aircraft types out there waiting to be adopted by Mateschitz and dressed in Red Bull's brilliant colors-like the de Havilland DH-110 Sea Vixen emblazoned with the familiar logo that recently overflew an airshow crowd in Austria. The only question remaining is, Where will they all fit? Hangar-9, anyone?