Extra was trained as a mechanical engineer. He began his flight training in gliders, transitioning to powered aircraft to perform aerobatics. He built and flew a Pitts Special aircraft and later built his own Extra EA-230.
Extra began designing aircraft after competing in the 1982 World Aerobatic Championships. His aircraft constructions revolutionized the aerobatics flying scene and still dominate world competitions. The German pilot Klaus Schrodt won his world championship title flying an aircraft made by the Extra firm.
Walter Extra has designed a series of performance aircraft which include unlimited aerobatic aircraft and turboprop transports.