Stunt plane display adds to aerial entertainment in Townsville

03 Jul
High-flying entertainment display at the NTI Townsville 500

Supercars has added another high-flying entertainment display at the NTI Townsville 500, with former car racer Hayden Pullen set to take to the skies at the North Queensland event in his Extra 330 LT aerobatic tourer aircraft. 

Next weekend’s race event is the sixth stop on the 2023 Repco Supercars Championship calendar, and is the first event to take place in Queensland since the new-for-2023 Gen3 Supercars made their race debut in March. 

Pullen is a former racer in numerous categories and events, including the Bathurst 12 Hour and a cameo in the Dunlop Series. He also lived in Townsville in his youth, marking somewhat of a homecoming for the now Gold Coast-based pilot. 

A true adrenalin junkie, Pullen played down the wild stunts and moves he plans to show off at this weekend’s race. 

“We tell people it’s crazy, but really it’s a walk in the park,” he said. “I’ve been doing aerobatics since 2009.” 

The Queenslander’s plane features a Lycoming engine, heavily-modified by Pullen’s own HP Aero Engines, making it capable of exceeding 3000rpm, pushing its propeller tips to supersonic speeds on rotation. 

“This is my third aerobatic plane,” Pullen added. It’s an Extra 330, and because we build engines, my engine has all the good bits in it.” 

“It sounds mean, it’s high-powered, it’ll really add to the show.” 

Fans at the NTI Townsville will be treated to a truly one-of-a-kind display from Pullen, who has choregraphed his runs specifically for the area around the Townsville circuit. 

“I’ve been practicising in a display ‘box’ specifically sized for Reid Park, so my routine will be designed to put on the best show possible for all the fans on the ground.” 

The Extra is capable of mind-bending aerobatic stunts, including its signature “double hammerhead” manoeuvre, and various rolls, flips, spins, and high-G turns. 

The Dunlop Series marks its 150th race event in Townsville, and Pullen is among its list of previous competitors, making a one-off appearance in 2009 at the inaugural Sydney 500 on the streets of Sydney Olympic Park. 


Along with being a former racer, Pullen is also familiar with several current Supercars and Dunlop Series drivers, namely Coca-Cola Racing’s Will Brown and Super2 Series frontrunner Matt Chahda. 

“I met Will through one of our mates, Neal Bates, and we got talking about building him an engine for his plane,” Pullen said. “He’s part of the family now, we talk to each other every second day, it seems like, we’ve become great mates.” 

“If the weather looks okay we’ll fly up to Townsville together, and obviously after the event we’ll run amuck up there, it’s going to be a blast.” 

Pullen’s connection to Chahda stretches back to the 29-year old’s first time driving a Supercar. 

“Back when Matt was just starting out with his first Supercar, he had the old Green Eyed Monster out at Winton,” Pullen recalled. “He had never driven a Supercar before, so I took him for a ride in mine just to show him what it feels like.” 

“We’re close friends with the Chahda family now, and between Matt and Will (Brown), they’ve both been in my ear saying ‘you gotta do some displays at a race!” 

“A few phone calls later and we had it all sorted to head up to Townsville.” 

“It’s going to be amazing, once I’m back on the ground I’ll have a couple guys to cheer for throughout the weekend, I’m really looking forward to it.” 

Pullen won’t be the only aerial entertainment at the NTI Townsville 500. On Saturday night, renowned drone specialists ATN will light up the night sky with over 500 drones under Townsville’s Castle Hill. 

ATN will take to the skies after famed dance music group Ministry of Sound takes the stage on Saturday night, headlining the music act at the largest sporting event in North Queensland. 

Race fans attending the NTI Townsville 500 will be able to catch aerobatic displays on all three days of action in North Queensland, with Pullen pulling aerial stunts on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. 

The NTI Townsville 500 takes place July 7-9 on the streets of Reid Park, tickets can be purchased via Supercars.com and Ticketek.

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