Matt Hall will debut new raceplane in San Diego on 15-16 April

As the anticipation builds for the second Red Bull Air Race event of 2017, there will be more than a few eager sets of eyes focussed on Matt Hall and his team’s new Edge 540 V3 raceplane, which makes its debut in San Diego.

In the days leading up to the event, Hall spoke with the team at Red Bull Air Race about his expectations, and what has been done to the new plane in preparation for it’s maiden assault on the Red Bull Air Race!

Matt Hall will debut new raceplane in San Diego on 15-16 April  

An exciting chapter opens for Matt Hall Racing this weekend, as the team debuts their brand-new Edge 540 V3 raceplane in San Diego, California, USA, the second stop of the Red Bull Air Race season.

In February, as the team waited for delivery of the new raceplane, Hall flew a rented interim aircraft at the season opener in Abu Dhabi. With strong teamwork and a little luck, the crew from Australia still managed to claim a spot in the top 10 and one World Championship point. But with a competitive aircraft finally in their hangar, the real racing starts now.

The new raceplane was ready on March 23, and the members of Matt Hall Racing flew to Guthrie, Oklahoma, where the plane was built at Zivko Aeronautics, that same day, to begin preparing the aircraft for the unique demands of racing in the World Championship. On March 24 they had the plane in the air for the first time, and since then they’ve been breaking it in, ensuring that all their systems are working effectively, and undergoing initial training flights.

Fans who are used to spotting Hall’s former MXS-R raceplane needn’t worry: the new Edge has been painted in similar livery and still proudly represents Australia with the flag and the stars of the Southern Cross. Like the MSX-R, the new raceplane will also have winglets, albeit a different model that’s a proven winner on a Zivko Edge 540. They’ve also tried to incorporate other lessons they’ve learned using the MXS over the years, although, Hall acknowledges, “Until we get her in the racetrack, we will not know how well they’ve transitioned.”

 

It takes more than a few weeks to dial in a raceplane; the process will continue as the season progresses. Here are some things the team does know already, however. For starters (and not surprisingly), it’s going to be a big improvement over the rented Edge that Hall flew at the season opener.

“This plane is a lot faster than the plane I raced in Abu Dhabi. And, it will be able to turn tighter and bleed less [speed] at the same time, which all adds up to a faster time in the track. We will be watching our bleed rates closely as we figure out the best use of the aircraft in the track,” Hall explains.

But how does it stack up to the MXS-R that Hall flew to second place in the World Championship for the past two years in a row?

“The new plane is quick, and handles well. It rolls faster than the MXS, which was an item we had constantly been working on improving (due to the shortened ailerons),” Hall shares. “It is in some ways easier to fly, though it is less comfortable than the MXS. That’s something we can overcome with time – the MXS had custom seats made for me, though we have not had time for such luxuries with this one yet.”

As a former Top Gun Instructor in the Royal Australian Air Force, Hall has been asked whether he feels “the need for speed” more times than he can count, and he should feel right at home in San Diego – which was long the base of the US Top Gun program. The last time the Red Bull Air Race stopped in the city, it was 2009, and only the second race of Hall’s career.

“I am definitely more comfortable with racing going in this time,” he says with a smile. “I’m looking forward to being in San Diego as it is a beautiful city and reminds me of Australia.”