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As the only Asian pilot in the Red Bull Air Race, Yoshihide "Yoshi" Muroya is sure to get lots of media attention at the third stop of the World Championship season in Chiba, Japan on 4–5 June – but usually the focus is on his airborne accomplishments. Here are a few things outside the realm of #racing that you may not know about Japan's favorite pilot.
1) His very first “flight” didn’t go so well. As a boy, Yoshi was so determined to go airborne that he climbed a tree, spread his arms like wings… and jumped. Landing on his head was a hard lesson in aerodynamics and gravity, but it didn’t discourage him. Yoshi started with gliders as a teenager and then went to the United States at age 20 to earn his airplane pilot’s license.
2) He worked a variety of jobs to get where he is today. Yoshi didn’t have a lot of money, but he was determined to learn to fly and worked long hours to pay his way. Among the jobs he took on to fund his passion: parcel delivery driver, bartender, farm worker, airport baggage handler for a commercial airline and glider instructor.
3) He’s a family man. Yoshi is married and has three daughters, ages 10, 8 and 6. They keep him every bit as busy at home as he is at the Race Airport!
4) He loves snowboarding. Yoshi was crazy about snowboarding from the first time he tried it at age 20, and he became an avid shredder. Although his commitments today don’t allow him to hit the slopes quite as often as he used to, he still enjoys the sport.
5) He’s an early riser. Yoshi gets up at 5:00 am – so it’s a good thing that when he goes to bed at night, he usually falls asleep within one minute! The 43-year-old starts his day with stretching, focused breathing and Zazen meditation.
6) When he celebrates, he does it quietly. Yoshi seldom drinks alcohol, not only to stay in peak condition for #racing, but also because he feels it’s not good for the brain. Given that he tends to lose about 2 kilograms over the course of each Race Week, you’re most likely to find Yoshi celebrating a big result at a restaurant rather than at a bar.
7) He’s a role model in more ways than one. Yoshi’s persistence and determination – patiently working toward his goals despite disappointments and obstacles along the way – are such an inspiration that he has been named an ambassador for his home prefecture of Fukushima, which is still recovering from earthquake devastation in 2011. As a leading face of aviation in Japan, he’s additionally an official sports ambassador, sharing his love of flight by conducting sky sports education for hundreds of elementary school students.
8) He enjoys reading about history. One of Yoshi’s favorite authors is Ryotaro Shiba, who wrote novels about historical events in Japan and northeast Asia. The pilot especially likes to read Shiba’s books while in a hot bath – a great way to relax after a long day of training.
9) If he weren’t a pilot, he would be… When asked what profession he would have been interested in pursuing if he hadn't become a pilot, Yoshi remembers how his dream of flying airplanes got started: as a child watching the original Gundam anime series about robots controlled by human pilots. “So,” he wonders with a smile, “maybe I might have become a robot engineer to make robots that fly?”
10) He likes red shoes! When it comes to footwear, Yoshi favors the color red – and that doesn't apply only to his personal wardrobe. Don't believe it? Check out the wheel pants on Yoshi's raceplane!
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