Hi Reddit, I’m a Red Bull Air Race pilot, former RAAF Fighter Combat (Top Gun) Instructor, and the first Australian to ever compete and win in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship. Ask Me Anything!

You can learn more about me here: https://www.matthallracing.com/

My Proof: https://www.facebook.com/MattHallRacing/photos/a.94360994172.81013.50788544172/10156346508309173/?type=3&theater

EDIT: This has been great - signing off now. Thanks for all the questions!

Comments: 89 • Responses: 36  • Date: 

BankingandWanking10 karma

Matt, I am sure you can not recall all of your flights. In 2010, there was one in Windsor ON. If you remember, your aircraft tried to become a boat briefly. Your airmanship was applauded with your ability to divert disaster, but what impressed me the most was after the kerfuffle it seemed you immediately decided to abandon your lap and go home. Often times in aviation we get fixated on the job at hand - can you explain your thought process for this decision. Was it simply you climbed as that is what you needed to do and it bought you time to get your senses about what happened, or was it a case of a clear decisive decision that your day racing was over as soon as your recovered?

Also how much trouble did you get in with your wife over that? She didn't look happy from the videos.

MattHallRacing26 karma

That was an easy decision to pull out of the track. Time slowed down for me in this event, and I had very clear thoughts during the incident on what was happening, and what my options were. I thought there was a high possibility that I would end up staying in the water with a tumble, so all effort was about staying upright as long as possible. When I bounced, I took the opportunity to point away from the crowd, though was still expecting the engine to stop etc as I thought I had hit the prop on the water. As it turned out, i was able to fly home and land successfully. My wife....yep, got a talking to about that one!!

JustNursingAround8 karma

Hi Matt - I learned to fly as a teenager and have about 200 hours. For the last 15 years, between work school and kids I have been unable to fly, however I am itching to get back in the air. My number one goal is to be safe - how often do you think a pilot should fly to stay sharp and competent? Do you think a pilot should gain an IFR rating to continue skills development? Is aerobatics or gliding another way to increase skills?

MattHallRacing9 karma

Getting back into flying should be able to achieved very safely with the correct mindset. The key is not how many times you fly, but more importantly, the time you give yourself to prepare before flight. Ideally you should aim to fly at least once per month, but sometimes you have no choice. Getting additional ratings always helps with competency. IFR, aerobatics etc. I think all pilots should learn to glide and do aerobatics, to increase feel for the aircraft, and also know what to do when things go wrong with the attitude of the aircraft (spiral dive, stalls, spins etc).

MyKidWantsAPlane8 karma

I have a 20 year old son who started gliding when he was 14 and has gradually worked his way up. He has over 1000 hours (mostly in our Mooney), IFR, lots of tail wheel and complex time. He has garnered a reputation as a sharp, thoughtful pilot who makes good decisions. Almost 2 years ago he started aerobatics and became hooked. Last year I bought a citabria, which he regularly puts through its paces, however, now he is asking for something more - I honestly know very little about advance aerobatic aircraft - are aircraft like Extra 300s too much aircraft for young, though experienced pilots? How can I ensure the transitions is safe?

MattHallRacing12 karma

Using the correct aircraft is critical to both learning efficiently but also safety. If your son has outgrown the Citabria, he could start pushing it beyond its limits (not even deliberately, just through rolling harder and faster with more confidence). If he is dedicated to learning, and you trust his judgement to not be a show off and do something stupid, and E300L is a great plane. They are very safe when flown with consideration, and have great performance all the way through the aerobatic categories. The step up is not out of control (it is a step, but the aircraft is pleasant to fly). If you head in this direction, make sure he has an experienced instructor and mentor.

Sheepzor6 karma

Does it ever phase you that you're flying at 200+ knots at no more than 20 meters above water in a plane that could potentially have an engine failure or a bad stall at any point? How on earth do you stay so calm about everything that could possibly go wrong? I know experience talks more than anything here but damn its impressive.

MattHallRacing6 karma

I am never nervous about crashing in the RBAR. This comes from years of training, and procedures in place to reduce the risk of something going wrong. Training physically and mentally, making sure I am very aware of what is going to happen in the flight, and what my plans are to have a perfect flight. We also train for when things go wrong, including ditching in the track and being extracted by the rescue divers (for such things as engine failure) so we have most boxes ticked to be able to relax and concentrate on the race not survival.

Jetwzrd6 karma

Hi Matt saw you race in Indy last year and congrats on your win in Cannes! I am an aircraft technician that travels all over the world fixing private Gulfstream jets.. How does one get a job working as a RBAR aircraft technician? I am a licensed FAA A&P mechanic. Thanks!!

MattHallRacing3 karma

Basically you need to make yourself known to a number of teams that you are available and have the required skills. Typically that is having FAA A&P, plus experience on type of aircraft. There is turnover in these areas so you can be lucky and pick up a job.

ItIsMeSenor5 karma

What is the process for going from a PPL to flying in races? What certifications and rating do you pursue and how do you pursue them?

MattHallRacing4 karma

You will need to get experience on 'race type' aircraft, such as Extra, Edge, MXS. You also need to compete in aerobatic competitions, preferably international level, to get a good name in the industry so when you apply to be a challenger, you are already known for the right reasons.

Smithy1074 karma

Gday Matt, I'm a young pilot studying a bachelor of aviation at uni and am aspiring to eventually take part in the air race. What would you suggest is the best path to take to the air race and do you have any other tips on how to perform at this level?

MattHallRacing4 karma

Make sure you stay committed to being the best you can be. Mentality is more than half of the job getting into the RBAR. You will need experience in aerobatic competitions, and possibly airshows if you get the chance. Attend a few races and get to know the people involved. Good luck.

Zeus13253 karma

How did you get into air racing?

Have any interesting stories from aviation outside of the races?

MattHallRacing2 karma

A lot of training in aerobatic flights, following a career in the Military as a fighter pilot. Interesting stories outside of the races...quite a few. A few engine failures, a few fires, some epic cross countries, getting shot at a few times, learning to fly choppers....they all add up to some amazing memories for me.

Zeus13252 karma

Whats your favorite cross country?

MattHallRacing3 karma

Flying from Spielberg to London. Through the Alps, across France, then the English Channel to the White Cliffs of Dover, around the north side of London, to Ascot Race Course. Amazing.

leahtep3 karma

Hey Matt, i'd love to ask, what do you do when you aren't airborne? Also whats the coolest trick you can do as a Red Bull air race pilot?

MattHallRacing8 karma

When I am not airborne, I love to be exercising, or growing out business at home to give great experiences to people. Best trick...winning!! But I love tumbling the planes too.

Mitchman051 karma

Andrew can you please spell check his answers? PS This is Mitchell

MattHallRacing2 karma

HUH!! I was wondering when you would turn up!

spockspeare3 karma

Can you stall one of those planes?

MattHallRacing3 karma

Yes you can. I had quite an impressive stall in 2010...not my best flying moment!

[deleted]2 karma


MattHallRacing4 karma

I have unfortunately lost a lot of friends in aviation accidents over my career. Sometimes it shakes you up, sometimes it is just very sad. The difference between them is due to your experience. When an experience aerobatic pilot dies, I find out what happened and try to learn from it, though it does not make me doubt myself in that as I already trust myself. When my helicopter instructor died while I was learning, it really shook me up as I started to wonder how am I supposed to survive when someone much more experienced did not. In the end, you have to trust that the rules and equipment are there for a reason, and if a reasonable pilot follows the rules and looks after the equipment, they should be safe. If there is an accident, take away the lessons for yourself, and continue to grow as a pilot.

AllCapsGoat2 karma

Currently a student pilot in Vic getting my CPL, do you think the current pilot job environment in Australia (as a fresh CPL) would favour someone with a CFI or multi/IFR rating? My HECS will only cover the diploma for one of those choices so im not entirely sure which one i want to pursue. (I also wouldnt mind moving around Aus for a flying job)

MattHallRacing1 karma

Without being an expert in this area, I would suggest doing the multi IFR rating, as that is usable just about anywhere. This will also help you get good solid hours to then one day become a CFI if you choose.

autopilotsucks2 karma

Hi Matt - do you have recommendations for safely increasing personal minimums? Eg. more challenging Wx, increasingly complex aerobatics, etc.

MattHallRacing1 karma

It depends upon what minimas you are working towards. I am a fan of always pushing yourself, though it has to be done in a planned and controlled environment. If you are looking at Aerobatic low level minimums, make sure you are always training with someone on the radio watching you and letting you know if you are getting too low, or doing things too low. If you are talking about more challenging weather, do it with a safety pilot who has a great deal more experience initially, to learn from their experience.

Shadeslayer72 karma

G'day Matt! Congratulations on your win in Cannes! In your opinion, what would be the best way to get into flying and aerobatics? You've mentioned before that gliding is a good gateway, but where does one go from there? Are there particular flight schools around Australia that focus on thatl?

Best of luck with the rest of the RBAR season, we're all rooting for you!

Edit: Spelling.

MattHallRacing3 karma

I think all pilots should start in gliders as it teaches great fundamentals of flight. Gliders can do aerobatics, though I chose to convert my gliding hours to fixed wing licence and did my first aerobatics in a Citabria. There are plenty of flight schools in Aus that teach aerobatics, though I recommend joining the Australian Aerobatic Club and find out from there what school is recommended near you and move forward from there.

[deleted]2 karma

How much is yaw used when flying? I can imagine that pitch and roll are used quite a bit, but a massive yaw adjustment at a high speed seems like it would add force on the fuselage and be pointless if you could just pitch and/or roll to the same spot you wanted to go anyways.

MattHallRacing5 karma

You are correct. When we are racing the key is to keep the aircraft pointing into the relative wind. Pitch and roll achieves this, but yaw does not. Yaw just adds drag. Watch the smoke trails when we race....you can see who is in balance by them.

wavvo2 karma

Hey Matt. First off all great job last week in France. Pity the coverage in the press in Australia was shit house.

Secondly, how much of a difference did the repainted airplane make in last weekend's performance?

MattHallRacing4 karma

The redo of the paint made a great deal of difference in the last race. We did not repaint it completely in the end, just some parts that needed the most amount of work. We took all paint off the tail to reduce the weight at the back of the aircraft, and smoothed down the surface with grinding and sanding to reduce surface friction. We guess that the work was worth about half a second in the track.

MattHallRacing2 karma

repaint was critical for us. We removed all paint from the tail to reduce the weight back there. We also smoothed the paint down on the wings. We believe we gained about half a second in the track doing this.

Mitchman051 karma

Wait who’s answering stuff too? There’s 2 answers and pretty much the same things in said answers

MattHallRacing2 karma

That was me on both. The first answer did not come up, so I wrote it again.

Melissa14032 karma

Congratulations on your victory!!!

When are you going to come to Japan for Chiba' s Race? I will go to the park in front of hangar.

MattHallRacing1 karma

Thanks. I will be there in 3 weeks!!

Tay12 karma

Hi Matt! What do you consider the highlight of your career?

MattHallRacing2 karma

Lots to go through in my head here. Probably different highlights in different 'careers'. First Hornet Solo, Graduating as a Fighter Combat Instructor, Winning my first RBAR.

Tay12 karma


Any stories from the RAAF?

MattHallRacing2 karma

Lots of stories from being in the RAAF, not just the flying either. Too many to try and sort between.

Melissa14032 karma

Is another one good? Would you tell me about a team to think to be a rival in particular in RBAR?

MattHallRacing2 karma

They are all pretty good teams. Watch out for Yoshi...he is always fast and loves signing autographs for hours at the race.

HOBBSEY172 karma

Soooooo cool you're doing this. Thanks!!! My husband would love to be you. In fact he has tried to tell females he is a "Fighter Pilot" before. What sort of job would you do if you couldn't fly anymore?

MattHallRacing1 karma

Hahahaha! I think I have met your husband a few times!!! If I could not fly anymore, I would take up sailing. Similar feeling of freedom and using the air.

Brad29052 karma

Gday Matt, I’m a keen 20 year old pilot looking to to start aerobatics soon and I remember you mentioning to me after my flight with you at narromine that you’re hoping to start up a course at the end of the year. Is this still in the books for the end of the season? Cheers

MattHallRacing4 karma

We have a new business plan taking shape at the moment actually. Hopefully by the end of this year we will have a number of opportunities available here....stay tuned!

Shintahuynh1 karma

Hi Matt - congrats on your Cannes win! What do you do during off season?

MattHallRacing1 karma

We have learnt there is no off season...just development season. We often find our time between the last race and the first race is out most intense time. I try to get a little bit of a physical reset, but most of our time is getting organised for the start of the next season.

ccbcc8141 karma

Hi Matt,

How did you get into the whole Air Racing job in the first place? Were you invited into it or was there a interview process?

As well, how do they move the planes from race to race? do you just ship them or does someone get a lot of cross country time in those planes?

MattHallRacing3 karma

I was fortunate enough to be seen by the RBAR management as someone of interest. I was flying fighters and was already flying aerobatics on weekends. RBAR management found out and thought I was a person of interest and asked if I wanted to take part in aerobatic training in Europe to improve my skills as an aerobatic pilot prior to doing a training camp in a race track. There were many interviews in this process too. Race to race they are generally air freighted though we sometimes fly them ourselves cross country. They are pretty quick for this.

agiro10861 karma

What was the scariest moment of your career for you?

MattHallRacing5 karma

I have had a few close calls, though getting shot at while in my F15 probably goes a fair way into the scariest moment, as you have time to think about what is going wrong while it is happening.

Shintahuynh1 karma

Hi Matt - me again :) What age did you start flying and why?

MattHallRacing1 karma

I started flying with my dad when I was a toddler, then formal glider training when I was 13, solo when I was 15. Just loved it!

toodamnparanoid1 karma

How long can you go without training and still be comfortable pulling high G maneuvers?

How often do you guys go through engines? I'm looking into buying an aerobatic aircraft myself, and I'm going to guess you those birds don't make TBO as often.

MattHallRacing3 karma

I will notice my G tolerance start to decline after about 2-3 weeks of no flying. That is a rare thing though. And it comes back super quick...1 or 2 flights. We don't really go through engines, more the fact we work on them to keep them in top shape. Generally, aerobatic engines (so long as they are right ones, and they are looked after) will go through to TBO, which is normally about 1200 hours (less than a standard engine).

toodamnparanoid1 karma

What are you usually flying? Different than the Extra's standard AEIO-540s?

MattHallRacing1 karma

AEIO 540, though different models for different aircraft. Some are experimental from Lycon, the race one is Lycoming purpose built just for us.

toodamnparanoid1 karma

Cool thanks for the info.

I guess for curiosity's sake: are you ifr current, or do you do almost nothing but VFR training at this point?

MattHallRacing1 karma

Almost nothing but VFR. We have an IFR twin though I only use that myself to go places, otherwise other team members are flying it Charter IFR.

TGaerobatics1 karma

Hey Matt! What are you using for smoke oil in the 300L and MXS?

MattHallRacing1 karma

Ondina 15 from Viva Energy

2XX91 karma

Do you like ponies?

MattHallRacing7 karma

I love 350 ponies working in harmony in the race track!!

Scottie_the_hottie1 karma

Hi Matt! I've seen you on TV many times before! I'm 18 and have around 350 hrs. Its always been a drean of mine to get into racing and acrobatics at a professional level. I've noticed that many acrobatic/racing pilots have military experience- is this a considered a requirement? Would it be possible if you go through the civilian route?

What's your favorite part of flying?

Do you ever get nervous before a competition?

Whats your most memorable flying experience?

What kind of diet/exercise regimen do you follow to be able to withstand the Gs?

How much do you train?

MattHallRacing2 karma

Military flight training is by no means a requirement. I was one of the first military pilots to go through, though there has been many more now. Favourite part of flying is probably the take off. Going from sitting still on the ground to transitioning to flight is always a thrill. I do get nervous, though that is just because of the competition. My best races are when I am a little nervous as that means it is important to me. Nerves should be embraced so never be worried about being nervous. Most memorable flying experience....too many to list actually. I have lots of 'first time I did this' memories, and they are all great. I try to exercise 2 times per day, with some walking, running, riding and body weight training. Keep the fat down and keep the core strength and endurance up.