AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 62

WALTER EXTRA'S  

designs are known
for speed, strength,
and refinement.
The company's first
turboprop (right)
maintains that
tradition.

Extra remained convinced,
however, that the design was fundamentally sound and could win in
the marketplace-if only he could find the
right engine. In 2002 he launched the Extra
500, which employs the same airframe, this time
built around a Rolls-Royce turbine engine. Extra
believes the turboprop delivers on the promise of
the original design. He has personally logged hundreds of hours in the prototype, flying it throughout
Europe and across the North Atlantic. It's received
European certification, and Extra has applied for
U.S. certification as well.
But bitter experiences from regulatory delays
and financial setbacks in the Extra 400 program have convinced him to proceed slowly. He
won't take deposits or start production until FAA
certification is in hand, and he'll manufacture
airframe components in his German factory with
the same skilled workers who make his worldrenowned aerobatic aircraft.
On a recent trip to Southeast Aerosport-the
dealership in St. Augustine, Florida, that specializes in selling and servicing Extra aerobatic
airplanes-Extra reflected on his aviation career,
lessons learned, and goals for the future.
Like many Europeans, he learned to fly in
gliders and was drawn immediately to aerobatic
flight. His glider instructors encouraged him to
seek a powered-aircraft rating so he could focus
on aerobatics. He pursued it with dogged determination and began competing in local aerobatic
contests.
A mechanical engineer by training, he built
and flew a single-seat Pitts Special biplane in
the early 1980s. Then he watched U.S. aerobatic
legend Leo Loudenslager fly a Laser monoplane
of his own design and immediately recognized
that biplanes were obsolete. Extra started building his own Laser, which incorporated many
modifications that he designed. When he began
flying his first monoplane in European aerobatic
contests, other pilots recognized its potential
and asked Extra if he would build similar aircraft for them.
"I'm not an aeronautical engineer and never
intended to become an aircraft manufacturer,"
62  |  AOPA PILOT  December 2013

he said. "But I loved the work, I knew I could do
it well, and I've never looked back."
His single-seat Extra 230 became a sensation,
and the handmade aircraft were recognized as
the Stradivarius of aerobatic airplanes for the
fine woodwork in their wings, as well as their
inherent strength, lightness, and performance.
Extra went on to design a two-seat, midwing
aircraft capable of unlimited aerobatics with
two aboard, the Extra 300, and won European
and FAA certification for the composite aircraft
built around a steel frame fuselage. The United
States quickly became his biggest market for the
300 and then the 300L, a low-wing design that
improved visibility and made it easier to get in
and out of the front cockpit. He also built a certified trainer, the Extra 200, with a four-cylinder
engine, but it never sold as well as the thirstier,
higher performance, six-cylinder models.
In fact, Extra says he's been mystified by
macroeconomic trends during the course of his
business life, and particularly their apparent
irrelevance to his own business. During boom
times, busts, and wild swings in avgas prices and
aircraft values, his company produces and sells
about three new aircraft a month.
"I've studied the trends and looked closely
at the numbers for nearly 30 years," Extra said
in lightly accented English. "And there's just no
correlation between macroeconomic trends and
my aircraft manufacturing business. During good
times and bad times, my orders are steady. The
broader economy doesn't seem to matter."
Extra's 75-employee aircraft factory is located
in a semi-rural area just outside Germany's
industrial Ruhr valley. There's typically about a
six-month backlog. Roughly half of the aerobatic
airplanes Extra sells go to the United States and
the rest are divided between Europe and Russia,
with a few going to Australia or South America.
(The Chilean air force demonstration team has
long flown Extra aircraft.)
Extra says he's confident the Extra 500 will
do well here, too.
The 450-shaft-horsepower Rolls-Royce
is smaller than the Pratt & Whitney PT6 and
Honeywell turbines that power competitors



AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013

AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013
Contents
President’s Position
Visual Approach
Letters
Waypoints
Proficient Pilot
Foundation Focus
License to Learn
Pilot Counsel
Fly Well
What Happens in Vegas...
AOPA Sweepstakes
Aviation Jobs
Gift Guide
Pilot Products
Pilot Products
News
People
Yacht of the Air
Around the World in 25 Days
Aviation Legends Walter Extra
Safety Pilot Landmark Accident: Unpredicted, Unadvised, Unaware
Summit 2013: Meeting Mr. Baker
Technique
Proficiency
Wx Watch
Technology
Ownership
Frugal Flier
Never Again
State and Local Action
Member Products
AOPA Foundation
Member Services
Government Affairs
AOPA Insurance Agency
Fly by Wire
Pilots
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Cover2
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Contents
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 2
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 3
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - President’s Position
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 5
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 6
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 7
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 8
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 9
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Visual Approach
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 11
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Letters
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 13
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 14
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 15
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Waypoints
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 17
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Proficient Pilot
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 19
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Foundation Focus
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 21
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - License to Learn
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 23
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Pilot Counsel
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 25
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Fly Well
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 27
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - What Happens in Vegas...
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 29
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - AOPA Sweepstakes
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 31
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Aviation Jobs
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 33
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Gift Guide
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Pilot Products
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Pilot Products
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 37
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - News
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 39
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - People
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 41
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Yacht of the Air
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 43
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 44
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 45
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 46
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 47
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 48
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 49
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Around the World in 25 Days
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 51
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 52
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 53
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 54
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 55
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 56
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 57
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 58
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 59
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Aviation Legends Walter Extra
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 61
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 62
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 63
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Safety Pilot Landmark Accident: Unpredicted, Unadvised, Unaware
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 65
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 66
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 67
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Summit 2013: Meeting Mr. Baker
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 69
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 70
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 71
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Technique
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 73
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 74
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 75
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Proficiency
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 77
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 78
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Wx Watch
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 80
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Technology
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 82
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Ownership
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 84
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 85
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Frugal Flier
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 87
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Never Again
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 89
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 90
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 91
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - State and Local Action
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 93
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Member Products
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 95
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - AOPA Foundation
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 97
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Member Services
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 99
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Government Affairs
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 101
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - AOPA Insurance Agency
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 103
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 104
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 105
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 106
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Fly by Wire
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 108
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 109
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 110
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 111
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Pilots
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Cover3
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Cover4
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