Martin Sonka is a decorated Czech Air Force pilot with a decade of aerobatics experience to call upon. A soft-spoken but determined man, Sonka was widely admired for his steady improvement in his rookie season in 2010 when he opted to be patient and focused on improving his flying through the Air Gates rather than paying too much attention on getting good results quickly.
That patient strategy was widely applauded and proved successful as Sonka’s performance steadily improved throughout the season, culminating with impressive flying efforts in New York and Lausitz, Germany where he got solid 11th places. Sonka has been a fighter pilot and member of the prestigious Czech Air Force display team flying the L-159 Laca. He also flies a supersonic jet fighter, JAS-39, in the 211th Tactical Squadron at the Caslav Air Force Base.
“Joining the Red Bull Air Race was a very big thing for me and I enjoyed seeing the improvements in my flying,” says Sonka. “My first race was really special. I couldn’t believe that I was really involved and then when I was standing in front of my hangar in Abu Dhabi and saw my name on it I said to myself ‘oh wow, I’m really in the race’. What fascinates me is the whole lifestyle. You put everything you have into the race. The flying is fascinating from the pilot’s perspective. It’s amazing. You’re flying low, very fast and it’s just incredible.”
Sonka, who was also a gymnast for 12 years in his youth, has been a member of the Czech aerobatic team since 2005 and has flown in the Unlimited Category since 2006. He holds four Unlimited Championship titles and in 2011 he became a World Freestyle vice champion.
He joined the Red Bull Air Race in 2010 at the age of 31 and was the second youngest pilot in the sport’s history behind only Pete McLeod of Canada.