Following on from the success of its historic drag race last year, Airspeeder has announced the first three pilots who will be part of the EXA racing series planned for later this year.

More than 1,500 individuals applied to become pioneers as the world’s first electric flying car racing pilots and after a rigorous process, Emily Duggan, Australia’s most successful female driver, multi-blade pilot Zephatali Walsh and FPV drone pilot Fabio Tischler, have been chosen.

They will now undergo a rigorous process of training and development, which will include the logging of more than 2,000 collective hours in the Alauda Aeronautics 6-DoF VR simulator. This will mimic an Mk4 circuit race within an XR environment. Through their training programmes and the races, they will master the dynamics of the racing vehicle with the same thrust-to-weight ratio as an F16 fighter jet, but with the added ability to perform rapid F1 car-style hairpin turns.

Alauda’s engineers and its technical collaborators including Telstra, AWS and NVIDIA, pilots will stress-test the Mk3 and Mk4 vehicles inside Unreal Engine to simulate racing. A systems-based approach to safety integrating attest LiDAR and RADAR systems in a suite of technologies termed the ‘Virtual Force Field’ will free the pilots to compete in blade-to-blade proximity without the risk of colliding.  

Matt Pearson, Founder of Airspeeder and Alauda, said: “This is the start of a new generation of motorsport led by some of the most talented and dynamic competitors from a wide range of motorsport and advanced air mobility backgrounds. This is just the beginning and we cannot wait to see Emily, Zephatali and Fabio plot a course to victory in the world’s first remotely piloted flying car racing series.

“Electric flying car racing is the most exciting and progressive form of motorsport in the world. We have been proud to show the potential of our Speeders in test settings but now is the time to get down to the serious business of pure sporting competition. Our first intake selected from the thousands of applicants reflects the breadth of backgrounds electric flying car racers will come from.” 

It was in June 2019, Pearson stood at the Agility Prime gathering of the world elite civil and military pilots and announced an open invitation to pilots. This drew the widest talent pool ever assembled to a new form of motorsport.

Thousands of individuals from across the world drawn from aviation, racing, performance automotive, UAM flying and even eSports answered the call to make history as the world’s first electric flying car pilots.  

An exhaustive process of selection followed. Key attributes far beyond just competitive instincts were assessed in making the final choices. To be among this initial number, raw pilot skill is not enough. 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 sport that promises to rapidly accelerate its development.

These women and men are therefore not only elite level competitors but also proved an extraordinary level of sensitivity to the technical requirements to test and refine a form of aerial motor-racing built from a blank sheet of paper.  In that sense, they are the ultimate development racing drivers and will work as a vital arm of the Alauda Aeronautics engineering team to lead an approach to refine the dynamic and tactical nuances that will make the EXA and Airspedeer races the most compelling and progressive sporting entities in the world.

Emily is Australia’s most successful current racing driver. She has been recognised as a rising star woman in sport. A career that started in the NSW Excel Racing Series soon progressed to becoming the first female driver to race in the Australian V8 Touring Car Series.

She has raced at Bathurst where she secured the fastest lap in the 2016 Challenge Bathurst and has since completed in both the Australian Toyota 86 Racing Series and Kumho Super3 Series. Emily is a hands-on developer of racing cars and regularly works on the mechanical elements of the machines she drives. Emily has enjoyed much success on the track, scoring 12 wins, 33 podiums and two poles in her career.

She said: At heart I am a racer. I am joining Alauda and Airspeeder to push the boundaries of motorsport and make history as the world’s first winning electric flying car racer. I’m honoured to be part of making history by developing this entirely new generation of motorsport.”

Zephatali developed his sporting instincts as a surfer before starting a career that has seen him ascend to being one of the most admired multi-blade pilots in the world. He sees a natural progression between the sports. He is no stranger to competitive racing in a cutting edge sport.

In 2020, Zephatali was drafted into the Drone Champions League where he competes with Raiden Racing. Like many prospective Airspeeder pilots, his background sits along with the requirements to understand the wider context of the racing he will take part in. His path as a student of Environmental Science has developed a fascination with the role that racing plays in creating and accelerating a new clean-air mobility revolution. 

Zephatali said: “Racing has always pushed the limits of what is possible for both humans and their creations. I’m excited to demonstrate, through the competitive environment created by Airspeeder racing, technology that will help shape a flying-car future personal transport for my son’s generation.” 

Fabio is a world-renowned FPV drone pilot. His work has taken him around the world capturing footage from brands including Red Bull, Toyota and Go Pro.

Fabio’s path to racing is less than conventional. He gave up a corporate career and an education in finance to pursue his dream to unleash the potential of FPV drones to capture incredible content. Originally born and raised in Germany, he relocated to Sydney, Australia in 2015 to pursue a dream to fly drones professionally.

He soon built a large social following through the creation of some of the most captivating film content in the business. This drew the attention of Alauda who invited him to become part of EXA, the world’s first series for remotely-piloted electric flying racing cars.

Fabio added: “I’m an instinctive racer with and am driven by my motto to ‘stop thinking and start flying’. Joining Airspeeder and Alauda gives me the opportunity to make history in these incredible first flying car Grand Prix. I’m so happy to be part of a truly progressive step towards a long-promised flying car future.” 

Since Pearson outlined a vision to create the most exciting next-generation motorsport on the planet, a team of engineers, technical and sports rights minds drawn from the most celebrated names in motorsport, performance automotive and aviation have developed the world’s first and only fully functioning electric flying racing cars. 

These next-generation racing machines publicly flew for the first time in the summer of 2021 through development flights that have taken place in secret locations across the deserts of South Australia. They will soon take part in a series of ground-breaking races named the EXA Series, the permanent development formula for the forthcoming Airspeeder crewed electric flying car races.

As such, the competitors that have been chosen to take part will embark upon an extraordinary development journey, ascending from elite remote pilots into true history makers as the world’s first competitors in the forthcoming Airspeeder crewed races.