In the first qualifying session in Windsor, Ontario, Australian Red Bull Air Race pilot Matt Hall, after a strong early session, g-stalled his aircraft in a tight turn and subsequently lost control at low level. As the left wing stalled, the aircraft flew beyond the 90 degree knife-edge position; his aircraft descended rapidly and impacted the water. But – in a matter of milliseconds – Matt was able to recover sufficiently, so his impact with the water was relatively flat.
Matt Hall claims that he “broke one of his own rules”. He said that “… I looked into the turn which means I don’t fly the aircraft naturally. I pulled on it. I g-stalled the aircraft, which has rolled me slighly passed the knife-edge. I managed to get it back to wings level and recover. I believe I might have skipped twice on the water because I felt two impacts.”
The question we’re asking is, “Was Matt fit to fly?”
On the 1st June, Matt posted the following to his Twitter and Facebook fan page:
On the morning he flew, the 6th June, he posted the following:
Matt’s Facebook and Twitter updates would have probably ended up as evidence in a coronial enquiry had he not skilfully managed to escape a more serious crash.
It’s inevitable that the effects of both a cold and fatigue would have severely debilitated Matt’s ability to perform to standard. Did Matt compensate for illness? Did Matt knowingly fly unfit? Is it professional neglect to perform in the public arena when one has knowingly compromised their own safety and that of spectators?
“Pushing the plane to the limits caught me by surprise,” said Hall in a media interview. How about Matt’s own limits? The limits of the aircraft are mechanical and are not at all conditional – but Matt’s limits are. The weakest and most vulnerable component in any aircraft, and that which is most prone to any kind of failure, is the big lump of biological matter in the pilot’s seat. Perhaps it wasn’t Matt pushing the aircraft to its limits, but the event pushing Matt beyond his own.
We’ll continue to follow Matt’s progress with interest; and there’s little doubt that he’ll mitigate his personal stress and fatigue more effectively in the future.
You can read Matt’s response to the incident on his website. Watch the video of the incident below.
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