Red Bull Air Race Pilot Mélanie Astles on Why Rushing is DangerousThe high-flying Frenchwoman is the first female Red Bull Air Race pilot. And she knows how to keep a cool head under pressure
THE RED BULLETIN: You’re a pilot, a manager and a flight instructor. That sounds very structured. Do you ever have to improvise?
MÉLANIE ASTLES : All the time. In the plane during a race, you might take a pylon wrong. Or, in the day-to-day, your boyfriend might leave you, or you might lose your job. But you must carry on regardless. You have to keep sight of your long-term goal.
You had to work in a petrol station to be able to afford to fly in the early stages of your career…
I was even homeless at one point because I’d put all my money into learning to fly. I was in deep sh-t. But whenever I got back in the plane, I knew why I was putting myself through all that.
You come across as very relaxed. Do you ever feel panic?
Panic? No. But stress? Yes. But when I do end up in a stressful situation, I just take a deep breath and only react after that, both in the plane and down on the ground. Reacting hastily will cause you far more problems than reacting more slowly. You’ve always got a second more time than you think.
So, reason trumps instinct?
Every time. Without fail.