Return from Rogers City (as an Airshow Pilot!)

It’s been a big, big weekend in Airspeed’s world.  It’s going to take a while to write and record the episode that covers it, but that’s because I need to take some time to make the episode as epic as the weekend was.

Long story short, I took things to a new level this weekend.  On Friday, I climbed into a TG-7A motorglider, flew to Rogers City, Michigan (KPZQ) in a two-ship formation, flew in my very first airshow as a performer, and came back in a three-ship formation.

I first started covering airshows from the fence along the crowd line seven years ago.  Over time, I’ve worked my way onto the performer area, then inside the box on the hot ramp, then out to show center with the pyro guys.  The only place that I had not been was up in the actual box in front of the crowd.

I had no idea in March of this year that I’d be flying motorgliders.  Or that I’d become reasonably good at it.  Or that I’d upgrade my certificate to commercial pilot in the process.  Or that I’d find myself spending time in formation with up to two other aircraft.  Or that, on Saturday, I’d be in that last frontier of the airshow fan: Actually in the box in an aircraft flying a demo for the crowd down below.

It’s been an epic weekend by any standard.  This is way, way beyond any expectation that I might have harbored just a few months ago.

I still have a lot of work to do.  I need to get a lot tighter and a lot more precise in my formation flying.  I need to develop even better situational awareness for those shows where the box isn’t over water with a definite shoreline to use as a reference.  But I’m part of a great team with really cool aircraft and – even if only in a very minor way – I’m now a part of that rarified community that flies aircraft in the box in front of airshow crowds.

My weekend.  Your weekend.  And a lot of my other weekends.  You know the drill.


About Steve Tupper

Stephen Force is the superhero alter ego of mild-mannered tech and aviation lawyer, commercial pilot (glider, with private privileges in ASEL, ASES, AMEL, IA, and DC-3 (SIC) type-rated), and Civil Air Patrol lieutenant colonel Steve Tupper. Steve writes, records, and brings you the inside story about everything that really matters in aviation. He's flown with the USAF Thunderbirds, he's and airshow performer and air boss, and he's one of only five pilots ever to earn a FAST card in the glider category. Follow Steve's ongoing quest to do all that is cool in aviation at or on Twitter as @StephenForce.


  1. Christopher Webb (@a_Chris_Webb) says:

    Well done, Steve. It’s a significant milestone that a lot of pilots would like to achieve but few of us are willing to put in the effort needed.
    Incidentally, I think the TG7A is a really attractive aircraft. I hadn’t come across them until your blog started mentioning them.

  2. Steve, thats incredible. We’re all proud of you as well as inspired in the blogosphere!

  3. Since i was unjustly disqualified during my attempt to join the Leaping Beryllians, gender bias I’m sure, I now leap vicariously into the heavens via the daring exploits of Steve Force.

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