After months of anticipation Matt Hall was finally able to pick up his new raceplane. The factory-fresh Edge 540 V3.
After being unable to fly his MXS-R at the end of the 2016 season, Hall took the decision to invest in a brand new Edge. He was unable to fly it at the season opener in Abu Dhabi, but the Australian pilot now has his new machine and is looking forward to getting it in the racetrack. "I've flown 13 hours in it now and more than half of that is cross country. But it's time in it and getting used to the noise, the smell, and the visibility," explained Hall.
As the raceplane is so new and has only just come off the production line, Hall's team are still trying to get the plane ready for the race. "We are behind the curve – if we had six months with it we could definitely make it better, but you're always in that situation with planes. We could put smaller air intakes in, but we're at a point where we don't know what happens.
"We've got the winglets and we've been working on getting it so it handles the way I want. We've adjusted the pitch sensitivity and have also been putting in all our own telemetry, as well as all the Air Race telemetry into it, such as the cameras. It was at the race airport two days before I got to fly it," explained Hall.
A thing of beauty
One of the teams biggest concerns is making sure everything is set up properly so they don't incur a penalty. For example, if the RPM gauge has been set up incorrectly, Hall could get a penalty for exceeding the RPM limit. "We've got to make sure we set the smoke system up so it runs correctly and we don't get disqualified," he said.
The biggest issue for Hall is that he has eight years of muscle memory of flying his MXS-R, so he has to re-learn how to fly if he wants to be competitive, but with only a few hours in it he feels that the Edge is the right choice. "It's easier to fly than the MXS. The MXS took months and months to learn to fly nicely, whereas this raceplane is actually easier to fly and feels nicer in my hands. So while I've learnt to fly the MXS well, and I've got to change my technique slightly in this, the handling will come very quickly I think."
Hall and his team are still at a disadvantage, but they're quietly confident going into this race, "The biggest thing we can do is just fly it really well. We know that the key to racing is you can spend all this money on mods, but if you get a penalty, you're out! So if I fly it well, we'll be in the points." Hall concluded.