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John Hollenhorst ReportingSome very dangerous and spectacular flying is planned in one of Utah's most scenic places 19 days from now.
It's a sporting event unlike anything ever seen in this region. High-speed airplanes will be racing close to ground level in Monument Valley.
It's a new type of motor sport that, until now, has been held around the world in cities with millions of residents. Next stop, Monument Valley. Population, 879.
It's airplane racing for the rock-and-roll crowd, a sort of slalom event for planes, with intense aerobatic maneuvering around inflatable pylons.
The Red Bull Air Race has been put on before huge crowds in cities like Abu Dhabi, Budapest, London and Rio. The spectacular flying is marketed on TV shows worldwide.
Ordinarily, the Red Bull Air Race draws hundreds of thousands of spectators. It drew more than a million in Rio.
But in Monument Valley the crowd will be kept to 5,000. Navajo leaders negotiated a small audience to avoid damage from vehicles and visitors.
Each ticket holder will be bused in from miles away; the racing will not be visible from any public roads.
San Juan County leaders say the race will bring visibility and money to a depressed area. Organizers are spending hundreds of thousands on infrastructure improvements, including paving for the Monument Valley Airport. They say the planes will avoid flying close to the world-famous buttes and towers of Monument Valley.
As a TV announcer said, "The Red Bull Air Race leaves no margin for error."
A pilot on the TV clip said, "You're down there, you know you're 20 feet off the water or the ground, whatever the case may be. You're going 260 miles an hour. Pylons are whizzing by."
"Your mind has to be really cool," he continues. "You have to be someone with a lot of control over your nerves."
You can get details by going to the link on this page.
In spite of the reverence many people have for the landscape in Monument Valley, we've heard of no organized opposition. Qualification flying is May 11 and the main event is May 12.