We’re pleased to announce our Gala Dinner keynote speaker for the 2018 Hunter Defence Conference is Australian pilot Matt Hall. In addition to speaking at the Gala Dinner, Matt will also treat our conference delegates to a low flying air show during the networking drinks.
About Matt Hall
One of the most consistent and tenacious pilots in the Red Bull Air Race, Australia’s Matt Hall has stood on the second step of the World Championship podium for two years running. This season, Matt Hall Racing will work harder than ever to claim the title for their own, utilising their newly modified Edge 540 and all Australian Team.
Hall is a third-generation pilot and his country’s foremost aviator. He flew solo in a glider at age 15, got his pilot’s license at 18, and has flown more than 5,500 hours in various aircraft. A decorated former Wing Commander in the Royal Australian Air Force, he was named Fighter Pilot of the Year and became a Fighter Combat (Top Gun) Instructor.
Australia’s only Red Bull Air Race pilot also competed on the international level in aerobatics, winning the Australian Advanced Aerobatic Championship, then finishing first in Freestyle and second overall in the Unlimited category. The Honourable Company of Air Pilots honored him with the 2015 Australian Bi-Centennial Award for his outstanding contribution to aviation.
In 2009, his debut season in the World Championship, Hall became the first rookie ever to stand on a race podium and on the overall podium (third). In 2015, he earned his first two race wins and was the only pilot with the tenacity and skill to challenge favorite Paul Bonhomme right up to the season finale, missing the World Championship by just five points.
In the Red Bull Air Race 2016, Hall overcame a string of bad luck including the flare-up of an old injury, bouncing back with four consecutive appearances in the Final 4 that were highlighted by a third place result in Budapest and back-to-back wins at Ascot and the EuroSpeedway Lausitz. Not only did the Australian manage to keep the pressure on eventual World Champion Matthias Dolderer, but he clinched his second-place spot on the overall podium even before the season finale.
All the members of Matt Hall Racing – the pilot and chief technician Eric Cieslar, tactician Peter Wezenbeek and new team coordinator Andrew Musgrove – had an unexpectedly hectic off-season. In the days before the final race of the 2016 season they discovered an issue with their MXS-R raceplane, and were forced to sit out the Las Vegas round. They determined that the only solution was to find another aircraft for their 2017 campaign.
2017 was a year of building, both the new aircraft and the team. There were no less than 5 team member changes throughout the season as the focus was on a perfect 2018 season. Even still, the team was able to win 2 qualifying rounds, and achieve a 3rd place in Porto and a 2nd place in Lausitz.
Matt Hall: “We had a few challenging years as a team in 2016 and 17, which probably came down to trying too hard. Now for 2018 we have a new team and a new plane ready to go from the first race. We are looking forward to the opportunity to wave the Aussie flag, and get out there to do our best. If we focus correctly, we will be in the running to be World Champions at the end of the year.”
Red Bull Air Race World Championship: 2nd place overall 2016 and 2015; 3rd place overall 2009; 1st place Ascot and Lausitz 2016, Spielberg and Las Vegas 2015; 2nd place Abu Dhabi, Chiba, Ascot and Fort Worth 2015, Perth 2010; 3rd place Budapest 2016, Rovinj 2015, Putrajaya and Gydnia 2014, Lausitz 2010, Porto 2009; overall – 2nd place 2016, 2nd place 2015, 6th place 2014, 7th place 2010, 3rd place 2009
Other: Australian Advanced Aerobatic Champion; Australian Unlimited Aerobatic Freestyle Champion and 2nd place overall; RAAF Fighter Pilot of the Year