Running Away to Join the Circus – TICO 2012, Day 1

It’s late.  I have to be up early.  But it’s been a great day and I can’t help but write a quick post.

I’m in Titusville, Florida for the next couple of days for the Valiant Air Command TICO Warbird Airshow.  This is my second year attending and I thought I’d use the opportunity to learn a few things by digging even deeper into the airshow culture.

I’m here as crew for Mark Sorenson and Tiger Airshows.  Mark flies a Yak 55M, a single-seat, fully aerobatic Eastern Bloc low-wing monoplane.  His aircraft, “Titus, the Tumbling Tiger,” is painted like a Bengal tiger.  Mark’s Pyro team lights off a concoction of hydrocarbons that creates huge ascending smoke rings that Mark flies around and through.

It’s part of a larger master plan of Mark’s, called The Ringmasters.  A kid-friendly one and two-ship demo that uses circus themes and some of the best ideas from Mark’s observations of countless airshow performers.

I’m putting cameras all over the aircraft.  A frame grab from the rear-facing camera leads this post.  I’ll eventually be putting these together to make a promotional video for Mark.

But the drill is a little more in-depth this time.  I’m embedding with Mark’s crew.  When it comes time for Mark to fly, I’ll be setting the cameras, then I’ll be heading out to show center with the pyro unit to help blow some smoke.  Mostly, I’ll have one of the big fire extinguishers or the little fire extinguisher.  The big fire extinguishers are used to put out grass fires that occasionally result from the use of the smoke ring generator.  The little fire extinguisher is used to put out members of the pyro crew.  The big ones have been used with some frequency.  The little one not so much.  And I aim to keep it that way.

In addition to that, I’ll be shooting such stills and video as I can.  But the idea is to embed for a few days with the crew to see what it’s really like to show up at an airshow and perform.  Genuine scurrying, prop blast, and sunburn with an aircrew tag dangling from my belt.  Show time is early tomorrow, so I’m not going to write much more at this point.  But there’s definitely an episode in all of this!