“Stephen Force” is the superhero alter ego of mild-mannered tech and aviation lawyer, commercial pilot and instructor pilot (with instructor, commercial, or private privileges in gliders, ASEL, AMEL, ASES, IA, and DC-3 (SIC) type-rated), and Civil Air Patrol (USAF Auxiliary) lieutenant colonel and search-and-rescue pilot Steve Tupper.
Steve brings the experience of aviation alive for a large and growing audience by digging deeper and going longer than any other medium. Whatever it takes to get the story right. He stuffs the audience member into his headset or helmet and takes him or her up on some of the most compelling experiences in aviation.
Having spent dozens of hours inside the head of the average audience member, Steve is a trusted friend and intermediary. The Airspeed audience knows, likes, and trusts him to go have these experiences and then bring back the sensations, the exhilaration, the trepidation, the knowledge, and . . . the story. Always, always, always the story.
Since launching the podcast and media network more than nine years and 200+ episodes ago, Steve has recorded episode segments from the cockpit of the aircraft that he flies, received aerobatic demonstrations in a USAF Thunderbird F‑16D, T-6A Texan II, T-38A Talon, and L-39 Albatross, been strapped into a canvas sling seat at 12,500 feet next to the open door of the Golden Knights’ C-31A jump aircraft, been in the cockpit and at the boom in a KC-135R refueling C-17s over the Carolinas, and flown with a growing list of the nation’s premier airshow performers. And, in 2012, he became an airshow performer himself.
He has covered such diverse topics as motion sickness with NASA’s premier expert on the subject, music composition with composer David Kneupper, icing with the NASA Glenn Icing research Team (home of the “Otter-sicle”), and the modified B-747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft with astronaut and pilot G. Gordon Fullerton, to name just a few.
He also goes out and lives a big part of the dream with which many of his listeners identify. Most recently, be began flying competition aerobatics in a Pitts S-2B and placed second in his first competition.
Steve also writes and delivers some of the most hard-boiled, gut-wrenching, and brutally honest commentary in any aviation medium, including Why I Fly, First Solo, This I Believe, Fingers in the Airport Fence Entwined (increasingly in demand on occasions when well-loved aviators go west), and The Kranz Dictum (which has gone viral among CAP squadrons for safety stand-downs).
The show gets between 15,000 and 19,000 downloads per month from the primary feed and uncounted additional downloads from syndication sites around the Internet.
Steve assembles groups of radio and similar audio media to which to feed audio content for airshows and other special events. He has contributed as a videographer for WGVU TV, a blowtorch PBS affiliate in west Michigan. He also volunteers with EAA Radio for AirVenture Oshkosh and with Sun ‘N Fun Radio and has composed and recorded original thematic music for both events. You can also hear Airspeed episodes on the event radio station at the Arlington Fly-In.
He is the producer and director of the upcoming independent documentary feature film, Acro Camp, slated for release in 2015. See www.acrocamp.com.
He is a multi-instrumental musician and compose who is currently scoring and recording music for, as well as writing and appearing in, the upcoming independent film, A Pilot’s Story for Wilco Films. See www.apilotsstory.com.
He is a member of the International Council of Air Shows (ICAS) and has presented to ICAS members on new-media and social-media topics.
He regularly covers some six airshows each summer and makes an annual appearance as part of Podapalooza at AirVenture Oshkosh.
The Audience Speaks: Praise for Airspeed
The best coverage the team has ever had for a media flight.
- Tony Mulhare, Maj, USAF – 2008 Season Thunderbird 8
This is an excellent podcast. Traditional media doesn’t cover aviation nearly enough and when it does, it often gets it wrong. This guy knows what he’s talking about ‘cause he’s actually doing it. An aviation George Plimpton, he walks the walk and talks the talk and lets us walk right there with him. And the fact that this great content comes in a podcast is all the better. My medium of choice is now podcasting and the depth of information I want and need is often only available through new media. Thankfully, there are shows like Airspeed to give me my aviation fix when I can’t get it myself and when traditional media gets it wrong.
- Rick Felty
Steve, this is outstanding. The production quality is top notch. Great music – it’s driving without being cliché or overwhelming. I’ve never read of a Thunderbirds ride with this perspective. It’s usually what you get in the Sunday paper (“Gee, that was fast, and then I needed to use the sick sack”). I enjoyed the pilot’s perspective, but you wrote so much more than MOAs and G forces into this, and that’s what makes this a truly outstanding work. It’s about the people, after all. Thank you for the huge time and effort you have put into this wonderful and entertaining show.
Not only have you again captured the essence that drives us back to the airport or to look back up into the sky with every passing airplane, quiet honestly you’ve caused me to take a hard look at my own inner spirit for aviation and what effect the daily drone the airline schedule has had upon it. In short, thank you. In long, I’m not quite sure what the eventual effects of these new insights may have, but I’m excited about them, so thanks. Thanks a lot.
I knew I would listen when the full T-Birds ‘cast came out, but I figured I’d heard a lot of it already in the early teasers you’d released. Man, was I wrong! I’ve listened three times so far. It is so engaging, I had to stop using power tools while listening to avoid personal injury! I laughed, I cried (I told my wife it was dust in my eyes from the leaf blower). You captured it, and you shared it with us all. Thanks for taking me along!
You really earned your “ready for NPR” ticket with the [composer and musician] David Kneupper interview. Great story idea, superior execution. If you worked at a newspaper, your editor would offer you a cigar after reading that story. Thanks for the consistently solid podcast. I wish you continued success and I look forward to hearing more on Airspeed in the future.
I wanted to take a moment this morning to thank you for making [the Airspeed episode] “Sometimes Alternates Fly.” For the better part of five years now I have been driving the same route to work each morning. Monday through Friday it is a consistently mundane ride that lasts just over thirty minutes. I have driven several different vehicles over the years but today was the first time that I have ridden to work in an F-16. I started my ride today just as Thunderbird 8 requested the MOA and arrived to work at just in time to look down and see the end of the Thunderbird routine overBattle Creek. I have listened to a lot of podcasts over the years and continue to listen to all of the aviation shows but today was the first time that I felt the experience. I hope that your flight isn’t the closest I ever come to the back seat of a fighter but if it is, it was a damn good ride! Keep up the great work.
- Damon Favor
This podcast kicked ass on the audio. I have a little Mini Cooper S with an H/K Audio system. I had the sun roof open and the wind whistling along with the sound as I listening to it on my drive home. It felt like I was right there. I really enjoy when you put the listeners there in the seat with you. You have had some nice opportunities to pursue some wicked cool parts of aviation. Thanks for sharing that with the rest of us.
This [piece] deeply moved me. I don’t know what put me in the “able to be moved” mood, if it was the rainy weather or because I am way the heck over here on the wrong side of the Atlantic Ocean missing my wife and kids, but your poem nearly shook me up. I had to do the old Navy Officer sleeve wipe to get the “haze” out of my eyes to regain my composure.
I still have no idea why but, after listening to this three times, “Viper-Six is a two ship flight and, sir, we’re F-16s” is where I get all choked up. Wow. What a treasure this episode is. “Take Your Kids to the Airport” and “Why I Fly” were great. But this sets the bar very high indeed.
“Shut Up and Listen To the Airplanes” was another gem. As soon as I heard the intro, I grabbed the good headphones and headed for the garden lounger with the iPod. It’s sunny and warm here in theU.K.today, so I shut my eyes and was transported to an airfield in another country. I could smell the kerosene as the jets ripped past and the announcer got himself excited in the middle distance. Then there was the Pitts (was it?) looping and rolling in my mind’s eye while that lovely warm exhaust note came and went. That was this morning. Its a holiday today and we’ve just come back from a good pasta-lunch-and-two-pints at the local pub. So guess what I’m going to do? I’m going to grab the iPod, head for the garden and listen again. After that, I may just listen again.
“Shut Up and Listen to the Airplanes” was a fantastic show! I absolutely loved getting to hear the aircraft that I don’t get to listen to that often. I’m currently stuck at work right now but I’m going to hurry home and play this on my 6.1 Home Theater system as loudly as my wife will let me.
This episode was the best podcast episode ever, regardless of the fact that no one else outside flying may understand. It stuck me so close to the heart, for I went thru very similar solo experience. Sorry for the lost of Josh, and very proud of you to continue chasing your dreams, beating your demons. Must admit, this was a tear-jerker.
Wow. Blew me away. Clipping a copy of your logbook sheet to the fence got my cheeks wet. Second time, even wetter. The most powerful, personal, meaningful podcast I’ve ever been blessed to hear.
Stephen Force produces one of the most professional shows in any medium – period. Airspeed is informative and entertaining, with sharp production and excellent original music. Listeners interested in aviation will find their enthusiasm boosted by Steve’s contagious energy and those not already interested will be quickly!
Stephen Force is the embodiment of aviators. After hanging up his aviation/technology lawyer hat at the end of the day, he takes us along on his adventures from flying classic planes like the Super Decathlon and the DC-3 to flying machines of the military like the T-6A Texan II and the F-16. The format of this podcast varies from scripted monologues, to inspiring poetry, to the most in-depth coverage of aviation events available anywhere. Pilot or not, if you enjoy airplanes, click subscribe and come flying with Airspeed.
Most aviation podcasts are either student pilots taking you through their training or hangar flying where knowledgeable pilots and enthusiasts discuss aviation topics. Airspeed is unique in that Stephen Force is pushing the envelope of new media reporting. He has taken you through his training and has engaged in hangar flying but be has also discussed topics as far-ranging as Civil Air Patrol, interviews with astronauts and air show performers and has brought you along to Oshkosh, Sun ‘N Fun, and museums. He has even thrown in some of the most inspirational poetry and outstanding music you will ever hear on the way. Oh, and let’s not forget his media ride with the USAF Thunderbirds. Anyone interested in aviation and aerospace should listen to this podcast. As well as anyone who wants to see where new media, such as podcasting, is going. Stephen Force truly is shaping the future of podcasting and making it a legitimate form of reporting media.
Steve is a multitalented individual who is not only a great pilot, but an accomplished lawyer and musician. He had the guts to produce several episodes on his training that included the good, bad, and ugly which we all realize is a part of the process of becoming a pilot. His “Fingers in the Airport Fence Entwined” episode alone made the show worth listening to.
Tom Gilmore, CFII, author of Teaching Confidence in the Clouds
Steve does a great job of putting into words how great it is to be a pilot. It doesn’t matter if the plane has two seats or 200, you’re still a pilot and the exhilaration of leaving the ground is the same. Steve is very articulate and has a great voice for radio that will bring a tear to your eye every now and then with his passionate monologues. A must listen.