Veterans’ Day 2011: Passing It On

This is a regular blog post that updates listeners and viewers on events in the Airspeed world. Airspeed is an audio and video Internet media source that brings the best in aviation and aerospace to media devices and desktops everywhere. If you’re looking for the audio and video content, please check the other entries on the site. It’s all here! In the meantime, enjoy this update about what’s going on in Airspeed’s world.

A number of new/social media personalities are celebrating Veterans’ Day by wearing our WindTees shirts featuring the aircraft and twitter handle of Daren Sorenson, a USAF Lt Col, F-15E Strike Eagle pilot, and Deputy Operations Group Commander at Nellis AFB. Lt Col Sorenson recently received news that he will be awarded (at least his second) Distinguished Flying Cross for actions during his most …recent deployment to Afghanistan.

I’m fortunate to know Lt Col Sorenson and his brother, Mark Sorenson, a talented airline and airshow pilot. I’m also fortunate to be the nephew of Dennis Reed, a Viet Nam -era air cavalry pilot and later corporate pilot for Kellogg. And I’m fortunate to know dozens of others who are serving now, have served, will serve, and/or are members of families of the foregoing.

I serve as a search-and-rescue pilot and legal officer in the Civil Air Patrol (USAF Auxiliary). I perform a valuable service to my community and country but let’s face it: I’ve never been shot at and it’s unlikely that I’ll ever face the risk of anything worse than an engine failure.

As a CAP officer, I am frequently in uniform in public and it is not uncommon for people to come up and thank me. I’ve even gone to pay the check after breakfast, only to find that someone else in the restaurant has already anonymously paid my bill, no doubt because of the uniform. I’m happy to accept thanks for what I do, but I know that the majority of the respect I’m shown is because I’m mistaken for active duty military. The average civilian (and many military personnel) can’t tell the difference. So I try to wear the CAP uniform properly and proudly and be worthy of it.

I used to try to explain to little kids at airshows that I’m not an active-duty shooter. (Really, I’m not even a toner.) It just confused the kids when I tried to do that. So now I simply receive the thanks with a big smile and save it up for today. Today, I pass on the greatest portion of the respect that I’ve received over the last year to those who have done the greater part of earning it.

So, Lt Col Sorenson, Uncle Denny, and others, I hereby pass along this year’s installment: Five kids at Selfridge, a guy at Flint, the barista at Starbucks at Woodward and Square Lake, my daughter’s kindergarten class, and the guy or gal from the restaurant. I pass along the thanks of these people and I add my own in heaping measure.

And I owe somebody breakfast.

A proud and reflective Veterans’ Day to all.

Valiant Air Command TICO Airshow 2011

This is a regular blog post. Need show notes or links to show and video? Keep scrolling. It’s all here!

I spent Friday at the Valiant Air Command TICO airshow at the Space Coast Regional Airport in Titusville, Florida. I went primarily to meet and hang out with the Starfighters, who operate the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter. My primary objective was to shoot the F-104 and get a couple of interviews to use on Airspeed and for Acro Camp.

That meant being there most of the day with the team there on the ramp, which is actually in the aerobatic box for the show. Oh, no! Please don’t throw me in that briar patch! How ever will I cope!

So, whenever nothing was happening with the blue-and-white Century Series jet, David Allen and I shot the rest of the show in both stills and video. The only downside of shooting from the ramp was the fact that the showline is positioned so that you have to shoot up-sun. I can’t really complain about that, but it did result in most of the usable shots being of those performers with more to-and-fro (as opposed to back-and-forth) elements to their demos.

Take, for instance, this one of the Maj Mike “Cash” Maeder and Capt Steven “Buda” Bofferding tearing it up in the F-15E. Great noise and great three-dimensionality to the demo. And, although I could be mistaken, it looked to me as though there’s a lot more inversion and a lot more high-G maneuvering in this year’s routine.

Because of the aforementioned geometry of the show, the remainder of the shots are heavily weighted in favor of the Heavy Metal Jet Team, which flew its inaugural demos this weekend.

This one probably benefited from the geometry. It’s still pretty up-sun, but I don’t think that one could shoot down the length of the solo’s barrel roll from any other angle.

Among my new favorites is Mark Sorenson, who flies a Yak-55 named Titus that’s painted in tiger livery. Mark embraces the playful presentation of the airplane and he loves to show off the airplane to kids.

Dave and I helped Mark wipe down the aircraft after he returned from flying and I had a chance to talk to him at length. We met initially at ICAS in December, but the proper place to hang out with a pilot is on the ramp or in the hangar while scraping bugs off the leading edges of a pretty airplane. I’ve maintained a loose correspondence with Mark’s brother, who’s an F-15E driver at Nellis AFB. I frequently wish that my family was a little more aviation-intensive like the Sorensons.

Mark operates ground-based smoke-ring generators that put huge black smoke rings up into the box that he then flies through. I didn’t get to see the smoke rings on this occasion, but I’ve seen the video and I’ll bet that it adds a more three-dimensional feeling to his presentation. Mark doesn’t fly many shows to the north, where I am, so I doubt that I’ll get to see him fly at another show. But you never know.

More information about the Valiant Air Command TICO Airshow is available at