Our Episode #11 – Because we were inverted in the smoke and then landed on the pier with Lukasz Czepiela.
“All we need to pursue our dreams and make them come true is passion and determination“, Lukasz Czepiela.
A former airline mechanic, Lukasz Czepiela combines being a commercial A320 pilot with competing in World Advanced Aerobatic championships, flying displays at airshows and until recently racing for the Challenger Class of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship.
A trip to an air show with his father, at the age of six, led to a life-long passion for airplanes. Day after day Łukasz cycled to the airport to clean aircraft. As a teenager he helped push the machines out of the hangar and in return pilots took him to the air. Soon, thanks to the money earned and saved at the airport, he made his glider license and started flying himself.
After graduating school he moved to the UK and worked as an aviation mechanic, labouring 12-14 hours a day, seven days a week in order to earn the funds for a plane acrobatics course. The team leader of the Honda Dream Team agreed to help him with acrobatic training as part of his payroll. A few years later Luke became his successor and he began racing, in 2004.
Since 2010 Łukasz has participated in Red Bull’s acrobatic training camps. During a three-year break in the championship he flew with the Polish aerobatics team, Żelazny, enjoying wins at national and international level and performing at air shows. In 2013 he made his debut at the world championship, where he placed in the middle of the stakes. It was enough to secure further special training, in which the most talented pilots of the younger generation from all over the world trained for the Challenger Cup, in which he competed in 2014, the inaugural competition.
In the meantime, Łukasz gained a professional license and worked as a commercial pilot for the European airline, Wizz Air. He took a year out in 2015, but in 2016 he earned four podiums, including a first race win, which came at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Five more podiums followed in 2017, including one race win and that consistency resulted in his career-high third-place finish overall.
The following year, Łukasz earned his first victory in the Challenger Class, taking first place in Budapest. A second quickly followed in Fort Worth as he narrowly beat race favourite Florian Bergér by 0.052 seconds to win the 2018 Red Bull Air Race Challenger Cup.
Having a friend working for Cub Crafters Europe, he recently discovered the ultimate fun of Low’n Slow STOL flying after having borrowed a Carbon Cub EX 2 for a week and not wanting to give it back. Poland being a wonderful playground for backcountry ops with mountains in the south, lots of fields, big rivers and their sand bars as well the coast on the Baltic Sea up north, Lukasz is seeing himself pushing the limits of STOL with constant new ideas like landing on a pier at the beach back in 2019.
Living right next to the beautiful medium mountains of south Poland, Lukasz is also an avid hiker who relaxes by swimming, gliding, rock climbing, golfing, riding horses and car racing.
In this episode, Lukasz Czepiela shares with us his fascination for aviation in general, aerobatics, air racing and his recently discovered love for backcountry and STOL flying. He also explains us the freedom and particularity of backcountry and off-airport flying in Poland.
Please go check out Lukasz’s
Sponsor’s page: https://www.redbull.com/int-en/athlete/lukasz-czepiela
If you want to watch Lukasz pushing either in the Edge or his Carbon Cub, check out his videos:
A tribute to Bob Hoover: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uWyZ0BvrLTE
Red Bull Air Race 2014 – Run in Ascot, taking off on the horse track: http://Hoover: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uWyZ0BvrLTE
This episode´s book tip, recommended by Lukasz, is: Forever Flying, by Robert A. Hoover, 1996 – ISBN 0671537601, 9780671537609
This episode’s song recommendation (by Maxime) is: “Ballad of Thunderbird 2”, Dos Gringos – El Cuatro, 2012
Music credits: “Slowly”, Amon Tobin – Supermodified, 2000
Cover photography: Kin Marcin / Red Bull Content Pool