Blue Angels Opposing Solo LCDR Craig Olson

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Lieutenant Commander Craig Olson comes from Kirkland, Washington. He attended Central Washington University and earned B.S. in Aeronautical Science. In March of 1994, he reported to Officer Candidate School at Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, Florida, and was commissioned as an ensign in August 1994.

Olson completed primary flight training at NAS Corpus Christi, Texas, and transferred to NAS Kingsville, Texas, for intermediated and advanced jet training, flying the new T-45 Goshawk at Training Squadron 22 (VT-22). He received his wings of gold in April 1996.

Olson remained with VT-22 as an instructor pilot in the T045 as a Selectively Retained Graduate (SERGRAD). In April 1997 he reported to Strike Fighter Squadron 125 (VFA-125), at NAS Lemoore, California, for replacement pilot training in the F/A-18 Hornet.

In January 1998, Olson reported to the VFA-22 “Fighting Redcocks.” White there he completed to sets of work-ups and a six-month Western Pacific deployment aboard the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), flying combat missions in support of Operation Southern Watch. During his tour with VFA-22, Olson served as the Schedules Officer, Aircraft Division Officer, Air-to-Air Weapons training Officer, and Landing Signals Officer (LSO).

In January 2001, Olson reported to the VFA-122 “Flying Eagles” also based at NAS Lemoore, as an F/A-18E/F Super Hornet instructor pilot. While at VFA-122, Olson served as an OSO, T-34C program phase head and Ground Safety Officer.

He transferred to the VFA-106 “Gladiators” at NAS Oceana in December 2005, where he requalified in the Super Hornet and served as an Instructor Pilot. He reported to the “Fighting Swordsmen” of VFA-32 also at NAS Oceana in April 2006, where he served as the Operations Officer and Safety Officer.

He joined the Blue Angels in November 2002 and returned in April 2007. He has accumulated more than 3,500 flight hours and 345 carrier arrested landings.

As many of you know, Olson did not start the 2007 season with the Blue Angels. He replaces LCDR Kevin Davis, who was killed on April 21 toward the end of a demonstration flight at Naval Air Station Beaufort in South Carolina. LCDR Olson rejoined the Blue Angels as the opposing solo pilot in the No. 6 jet. The team resumed practices soon after the accident and LCDR Olson resumed his duties as a solo, reintegrating into the team after having returned to the fleet a year and a half ago.

Dan McNew and I were treated to a Blue angels demonstration flight from the ramp of the Western Michigan University School of Aviation on the northeast corner of the field at Battle Creek International Airport (KBTL) in Battle Creek, Michigan. The Blue Angels arrived at about 10:30 local and the diamond and the solos, respectively, flew familiarization maneuvers between then and 2:30. The team then flew a full demo before meeting us out by the aircraft for interviews.

Thanks again to LCDR Craig Olson for joining us on Airspeed. You can find out more about the Blue Angels at The US Navy is running open houses and recruitment efforts in connection with several of the Blue Angels’ appearances. It’s Detroit Navy week here in southeast Michigan. If you’re age 18 to 24 and want to obtain free tickets to the show and an opportunity to meet the Blue Angels, check with your local Navy recruiting office.

The Blue Angels will be appearing around the country all summer and into the fall.

7-8 Ypsilanti, Michigan (Willow Run Airport)
14-15 McConnell AFB, Kansas
21 Pensacola Beach – Florida
28-29 Bozeman, Montana

04-05 Seattle, Washington
11-12 Hillsboro, Oregon
25 – 26 Indianapolis, Indiana

Demos continue through August, September, and October until the final show of the year scheduled for November 9-10 at NAS Pensacola, Florida.


Blue Angels:

US Navy Recruiting:

US Marine Corps Recruiting:

Airspeed – Aerobatics and Airshows with Michael Mancuso

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Here in the US and elsewhere in the northern hemisphere, airshow season is either here or right around the corner. We’re making some early calls to some of the performers that you’ll see this summer to get a preview of the upcoming season and to find out a little more about what makes them tick.

Michael Mancuso is a fixture on the airshow circuit and this is his 10th year doing shows. He has 7,000 hours total time and commercial and instructor certificates. He started flying gliders at age 11 and soloed for the first time when he was 13. He and his family own Mid Island Air Service on Long Island in New York and Michael started Gyroscopic Obsessions in 1995 to teach aerobatics.

He competed in IAC aerobatics from 1992 to 1997 and then spent from 1998 to 2000 with the Northern Lights.

Michael flies the Klein Tools Extra 300L. The 300L is about 23 feet long and nine feet tall at the tail, and has a wingspan of about 25 feet. It’s powered by a Textron Lycoming AEIO 540-L1B5 300 horsepower engine connected to an MT three-blade prop that pulls the aircraft through the air at 170 knots when cruising at 75% power. It’ll get off the pavement in 315 feet, climb at more than 3,000 feet per minute, pull plus and minus 10 g’s, and do all kinds of crowd-pleasing gyrations between its 55-knot stall speed and Vne of 220 knots. The aircraft is built in Germany and certified in the United States.

We caught up with Michael as he was preparing to head down to Sun-n-Fun to talk about the Extra, aerobatics, airshows, and flight training, and we even got to talk a little about light sport aircraft.

Let’s go to the interview.

[Interview audio.]

A couple of administrative notes and other cool things for you.

We’ve added a voicemail system so that you can leave us feedback and enter some of the upcoming contests! Call 206-339-8697 any time – day or night and leave us voice mail.
It’s a Seattle number, but it’s free to me, so that’s all that matters! And it’s always free when you call from work (thanks, TMBG!).

No, I haven’t moved to Jet City. Still here in southeast Michigan waiting for the frost to melt off the planes so I can get up and train without turining the airplane into a Cessna-cicle.

To get us warmed up, let’s kick off the first contest of the year. Call the Airspeed voice mail line and leave us a short message telling us one thing about aviation that non-pilots don’t experience and probably won’t understand until they get up. For me, the main thing that comes to mind is flying with a head cold and feeling like my face is caving in during descent. Or what it’s like to fly with just your wheels in the clouds. But I’ll bet that you guys can come up with even more funny, strange, and inspiring observations. Call us at 206-339-8697 and leave us your observations.

Also, please leave us your e-mail or other contact information because the best observation gets an Airspeed embroidered logo hat and we’ll need to know where to send this standard-setting garment of 21st century aviation that will surely soon to take its place next to the silk scarf and the bomber jacket in the pantheon of aviation icons.

Lastly, but not leastly, there’s good news from The Pilotcast! Everybody loves the video content that The Pilotcast has posted of late, but many of us miss the hangar-flying sessions with Pilot Mike, Pilot Dan, and Pilot Kent. the’ve recorded a new hanger-flying episode that should be up very shortly. If you haven’t checked the Pilotcast feed lately, watch it over the next few days for the new episode. The Pilotcast is one of my two favorite hangar-flying shows on the net and I’m delighted that they’re back talking shop. See the Pilotcast website at

Aditional information for this episode:

Michael’s web page:

Extra Aircraft:

Battle Creek Field of Flight Air Show and Balloon Festival:

Klein Tools: