Red Bull pilot flies back to her Rugby roots

Red Bull's first woman racing pilot, who was born in Rugby, is returning to her home town for the first time in more than 30 years.

Melanie Astles. Photo by Stefan Voitl © Red Bull Media House.

Mélanie Astles (right) was born at St Cross in 1982 and spent the first few years of her life in the town.

Her father is British and her mother is French, and the family relocated to the south of France when Mélanie was aged three.

Now aged 34, she is back in the UK ahead of a Red Bull air race at Ascot on August 13 and 14 – and she is also set to re-visit her home town.

Speaking to the Advertiser on Tuesday, she said: “After we left, we didn’t come back. But I’ll be going back now. I think it will be quite emotional.

“I’m also going to fulfil a little girl’s dream and fly a Spitfire tomorrow (Wednesday) – a real World War Two plane.

“Who knows? Maybe I will fly over Rugby. That would be a nice moment.”

Mélanie is the first and only woman Red Bull air race pilot and her passion for flying started at a young age when she sat in the cockpit of a fighter plane.

She said: “To be the first female pilot is a great honour for me.

“I really hope that I can be an inspiration for other young girls.”

When asked if she had any advice for young people looking to follow a similar career path, Melanie replied: “Be yourself but work hard. Nothing happens easily.

“You have to work towards your dream non-stop to get there.”