Credit: Red Bull Air Race © Red Bull Media House http://redbullairrace.com
WINDSOR, Ontario - Australia's Matt Hall had a scare during the first Qualifying session at the Red Bull Air Race in Windsor on Saturday when his plane touched the surface of the Detroit River but the former RAAF pilot quickly recovered and returned safely to Race Airport.
Hall was challenging for the lead in the first of two Qualifying sessions when he suffered an aerodynamic wing stall. His left wing skimmed the surface of the river that separates the United States and Canada. His right wheel cover hit the water as well but Hall was quickly able to regain control of his MXS-R aircraft and climb up away into the sky.
"I felt I was having a fairly good run," Hall said. "I might have skipped twice on the water. It's a very disappointing result for me. It's the motor racing equivalent of touching the wall."
Hall, who fought combat missions with the U.S. Air Force in Iraq, was confident his plane could be repaired in time for Qualifying 2 an hour later. He is hoping to get his third career podium in Windsor and has been in the top three in most training sessions this week.
"The plane is damaged but will be recoverable," Hall said. "Our game plan is to get some rest for now. It will hit me harder in a few hours time. Everyone in aviation has been in some fairly tight situations before. I've been in tight situations before. I'm disappointed in myself for putting myself in that situation. We're okay but we'll move on from that. Everything's fine."
Hall's plane was inspected in the air after his safety climb out by Nigel Lamb, another pilot who was flying in a holding pattern. Lamb said the damage all appeared to be superficial. Hall then landed safely back at the Race Airport in Windsor.
"The main damage is on the right aileron," Hall said. "I think the plane is not that badly damaged. It is going to be a matter of replacing parts."
Hall has two podiums in his career, including a second place finish in his home race in Perth, Australia in April. He joined the race in 2009 and became the most successful rookie in race history last year when he took third place overall. Hall is in fourth place so far this year.