From aerobatics to F1 cars: Inside Red Bull's Hangar-7 museum

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A look across the Hangar-7 museum (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)

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Gizmag recently took the opportunity to tour the Hangar-7 Museum in Red Bull's hometown of Salzburg, Austria. With an underlying theme of speed and adrenaline, the stylish, hangar-inspired gallery serves up an ever-changing collection of air and land race hardware. Step inside for a virtual tour of intriguing architecture and high-performance machinery.

Hangar-7 stands among those museums that are as intriguing outside as in. Back around the turn of the millennium, local architect Volkmar Burgstaller was commissioned to build a fitting home for Red Bulls' Flying Bulls, a fleet of historical aircraft. Volkmar abandoned the practical but aesthetically unappealing convention of hangar design for something far more inspired.

The winglike dome and abutting cylindrical towers are built of a latticework of steel supporting a glass shell. The sleek, modern structure stands juxtaposed with the ancient rock of the Alps rising in the backdrop. Each of the 1,754 glass panes strung from the 1,200 tonnes of steel is as distinct as the individual snowflakes that fall on top of the mountains each winter, no two sharing the same dimensions.

The impressive outward appearance of Hangar-7 sets the stage for a museum interior "where technology, art and entertainment come face to face and naturally complement one another." That's best exemplified by the massive tools of air and land travel positioned around the open floor, a collection that includes the Flying Bulls. It also includes the art-lined walls and a restaurant that features a revolving door of monthly guest chefs.

As if all that isn't enough to hold one's attention, the natural greenery that accents the interior consists of rare plants from around the world, including a mulberry weeping fig and elephant's foot. Along with the flow of sunlight that rushes through the thick, glass walls, the plants provide a natural contrast with the high-tech machinery between them.

What really drew us to Hangar-7, of course, was its collection of historical aircraft, F1 cars, motorcycles and other interesting equipment. The museum rotates its exhibitions, and we were treated to an F1 exhibit, Felix Baumgartner exhibit, and numerous planes and helicopters, many of which claim some type of "world first" technological feature or record-setting design. Here are a few of our favorite picks, including a bit of background based on Red Bull's descriptions.

X2010 S. Vettel

If Batman took some time off from vigilante justice for a little car racing, we can't imagine his racer being much cooler (or faster) than the X2010 S. Vettel. This car is what happens when you have the freedom to build a race car to answer, "What would the fastest racing car in the world look like without any restrictions on its development?" A collaboration between Polyphony Digital and Red Bull designer Adrian Newey, the car was created for Gran Turismo 5. It's a sort of predecessor to the GT6 Vision Gran Turismos we've been seeing pop up throughout 2014 from the likes of Nissan and Aston Martin.

Freed from the usual F1 restrictions, the team was able to design a car that's heart beats strictly around the rules of physics. Extreme aerodynamic measures, such as fan-assisted downforce and full tire cowlings, help the 1,500-hp twin-turbo V6 engine deliver insane performance projections. The 1,202-lb (545-kg) car can whip 8Gs out of a corner, dial up speeds of 120 mph (193 km/h) faster than many of the greatest supercars can hit half that (2.8 seconds), and accelerate its way to a terminal velocity of 280 mph (450 km/h).

Unfortunately, all that performance is only for a video game. Still, the model was probably the coolest-looking car we came across while at the museum.

BO105 aerobatic helicopter

When it was designed in the 1960s, the MBB BO105 featured a number of cutting-edge technological advancements, most importantly its hingeless rotor system with titanium rotor head and glass-reinforced composite rotor blades. Its twin engines, fully redundant hydraulics and fully redundant electronics helped pioneer a new level of safety for light helicopters.

The BO105's unique construction gives it a level of maneuverability that remains exceptional to this day. While designed for the purpose of dodging military fire, that maneuverability serves a different role under Red Bull's pilotage. It took some work, but the energy drink giant was eventually able to persuade the authorities to let it use its BO105's for aerobatic exhibitions. The company claims that its global fleet of four BO105s comprises the only licensed aerobatic helicopters in the world. This one is piloted by The Flying Bulls Flight Operations Manager and Chief Pilot Helicopter Siegfried Schwarz.

The jump seen 'round the world

On October 14, 2012, Felix Baumgartner successfully jumped from 127,852 feet (38,969 m) up in the atmosphere. Not only did he set the world record for height, he became the first to break through the sound barrier in free fall without a vehicle, reaching a fall speed of more than 843 mph (1,357 km/h). In fact, he added another half dozen records on his up-and-back trip. Suddenly, skydiving, a sport that hadn't drawn much attention since the "extreme" 90s, was all over the mainstream media.

We won't rehash the entire Baumgartner story since we've already covered it in depth, but suffice it to say that seeing the capsule and pressure suit on display during our visit, along with detailed information about the timeline, records and construction, made us excited for it all over again.

Formula 1 RB8

After eyeing the X2010 S.Vettel over, it only took a few paces to find some F1 racers with actual pedigrees. In the museum environment, we actually got a close look at the details of those cars without them blurring by in nanoseconds.

One such detail on the RB8 piqued our interest. We quickly noticed the puzzle-piece look that gave it the strange appearance of a race car made out of spidered porcelain – sort of a race car version of a limited edition Ferrari that was auctioned off a few years ago Ferrari 599. The cause of that look isn't a porcelain shell, but livery containing a collage of thousands of fan photos, created to raise money for Red Bulls' Wings For Life charity.

The Renault V8-powered, carbon monocoque-based RB8 is the hardware that Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber raced during the 2012 season. Vettel overcame a rough season start and sped it to a world championship victory at the Brazilian Grand Prix, becoming the youngest driver ever to claim three world championships. He added a fourth last year in the RB9 but has faced a tougher road this year. This month, he announced that he will be leaving the Red Bull team for Ferrari after the end of the season.

Fairchild PT-19 M-62 A

One of the most colorful winged crafts on the floor of Hangar-7, Red Bull's Fairchild PT-19 was built in 1943 and used by the US military for nearly a decade. It passed through a number of private hands after retiring from the military before finding its way into the Flying Bulls fleet in 2007. The mechanical team put it through an intensive restoration, overhauling its inline engine, adding an improved braking system and updating the electronics. The plane now puts out 200 hp and is capable of speeds of 130 mph (209 km/h).

The museum's exhibits change regularly, so they may now have different models on display. Check Hangar-7's website for more details on current exhibits and events.

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