This time last year I booked some flights to Europe, with everything that was happening I ended up putting them on hold. Fast forward to 2019 and those flights had to be rebooked or forfeited.
As the timing was a little off we started with a flight to Abu Dhabi and then a drive into Oman for 5 days.
Abu Dhabi is a stop over for us Australians coming to Europe, Europe was heading into winter and Australia is just coming out of it and some warmer days in the Middle East seemed like a good idea for a stopover.
Getting a visa to travel into Oman is the first hurdle followed by the actual border crossing.
But that’s nothing compared to the examination you get when coming back into United Arab Emirates.
Once in Oman it is a beautiful country.
35 degree days, dry heat and lots of amazing landscapes, it reminded me of my time in Death Valley USA.
Driving through Oman was a great experience, the roads were incredible, the sights were breathtaking.
The people were friendly and there were hardly any tourists to contend with.
Once out of Oman we were back on a plane to Milan and then into another hire car destined for Austria.
The real reason I had wanted to visit Austria again (remember when I was here last time with BMW) I wanted to head to Kiska design. I am extremely interested in motorcycle design and had a tour organised for last year, sadly the guys were too busy this year to show me around but that’s not all there is to Austria.
The skies were overcast heading out of Milan Italy and into the northern lakes region of Trento.
From the 40 degree days of Oman into the 10 degree days of Europe in just 6 hours takes some getting used to.
From Italy to Innsbruck Austria, the skies were overcast and night had started to descend on the town.
Walking around Innsbruck on Halloween probably gave us a false sense of what the town is really like but it was an amazing place, shopfront fitouts were extremely well designed and the buildings hundreds of years old.
Waking up in the morning at one of the nicest places I had stayed in revealed perfectly clear conditions, just two steps out into the street revealed what we couldn’t see the night before.
The mountains lining the city complete with snow capped peaks left us in awe. Innsbruck looked even better in the light.
Last time I was here I rode through Innsbruck and didn’t soak in the true beauty or attractions, this time round I made up for that.
I knew of Innsbruck from the Crankworx mountain bike series so I was keen to check out the track, I didn’t have a bike otherwise I would have tested that travel insurance out.
Back on the road and bound for Salzburg Austria. Salzburg is the headquarters for RedBull and the only public opportunity to see inside the operation is this is a special place called Hangar 7.
Hangar 7 was built to house and display RedBull planes and other motorsport attractions.
Parking the car and seeing it in real life was a surreal experience.
The building is amazing and what’s inside it just lifts things to a whole other level.
For me it was the mix of everything automotive that I loved.
These Formula One cars were the real thing, not promotional mockups, just incredible.
How often do you get to be in the presence of Formula 1 cars sitting under and around a perfectly polished and prepared Douglas DC6 Aircraft. It was at this moment a man in a Flying Bulls cap pulled me up, I thought I may have been breaching some photography rule when he said, “Nigel right”?
Surprised as hell I said yes and it was Michael who I have followed, looked up to and spoken with over many years.
Michael was preparing to grab some content for the Flying Bulls and ushered us past the tape and into Hangar 8, the place where all the magic happens.
Apon entry I was struck with the smell of a well oiled workshop, planes require a level of precision, each engine is overhauled and the complete aircraft disassembled each year.
It was maintanence season and the guys were hard at work pouring thousands of hours into the RedBull flying machines.
As I was wandering around star struck by these amazing machines I met Mark.
He was preparing for a training flight in the T28B Trojan with one of Michaels expertly designed helmets under his arm.
Michael is a an amazing design artist, he humbly points out the aircraft and helmets that he designed the livery for.
As Mark and Raimund climb up into the T28B as I get more and more excited to hear this old warbird fire to life.
Once the prestart checks are done the T28B engine fires to life.
The straight pipes are extremely short and the guys keep the throttle at a sensible level to limit the noise restrictions imposed on the airport.
As the T28B taxis out onto the runway the throttle is opened up and in a matter of 50 meters or so its off the ground with the landing gear raised and out of sight.
It is a special moment to stand there on the run way and listen to it leave Salzburg bound for Innsbruck.
Michael invites us in for a drink in the bar (which is actually a Michelin start restaurant with the finest food and drink selection) we chat about our careers and the paths that led us to this moment.
It has been really interesting to me to see the rise of energy drinks in my lifetime, being in Salzburg and to see the home of RedBull, the Hangar and knowing that this is only a small component of amazing cooperation leaves me inspired. A few beers later and the T28B pops over the snowcapped mountains on sunset and touches down. Mark comes into the bar and debriefs with Michael as we chat about motorcycles, motorsport and adventure till the sun goes down before calling it a night and heading to the city to find some accomodation.
I arrived into Salzburg a little disappointed that I couldn’t see Kiska, my style of travel (just work it out as I go along) doesn’t suit making plans with people and Hangar 7 was really just a chance for me to check out a few amazing machines. After almost a full afternoon with Michael and being introduced to some extremely talented and hard working people I left my first day in Salzburg as excited as I had ever been.
If your planning a trip to Europe I cannot recommend Hangar 7 enough, the cars, planes, motorcycles, helicopters, people, food, drink, toilets (yep that’s right) and everything else will just blow your mind. A huge thanks to Michael for turning a quick visit into a full tour and The Flying Bulls for their time and hospitality.