Inside Airshows – Part 3: Tuskegee 3 – Audio Episode Show Notes

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These are the show notes to an audio episode. You can listen to the show audio by clicking here:  Better yet, subscribe to Airspeed through iTunes or your other favorite podcatcher. It’s all free!

If you want to understand a subculture or an experience, a great way to do that is to take an outsider and plunge him into the place you want to know about, wait awhile, then drag him back to the surface and wring him out to see how it changed him.  It’s even better if you can get the guy to wring himself out.  You begin to realize that not everybody who writes about the majesty of flight does it because he’s a fighter pilot.  Some of us write because we’re not fighter pilots.

You also need to talk about the world in its own terms, using the lexicon of the world, sometimes without explaining the vocabulary to the uninitiated, except maybe through context.  If you’re a pilot, you’ll understand most of this.  If you’re not a pilot, that’s okay, because you’ll feel a little of the strangeness of this world and you’ll put it together in context and in realtime.  Just like I did.  In some ways, you’re in for a better ride than the pilots.

There are three things you need to know about me.

First, I’m a pretty average Joe.  I’m 46.  By any reasonable estimation, my life is more than half over.  I live in the suburbs.  I have a wife and two kids.  I run the rat race every day about as well as the next guy.  You wouldn’t recognize me if you ran into me in the grocery store.

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Second, I always wanted to be an astronaut.

Third, I realized a few years ago that it was entirely up to me where between that baseline and that dream I would live each day of the rest of my life.


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Listen to this.

[ICAS hall noise.]

This is the sound of a magical zone in spacetime.  It’s a room with about 60,000 square feet of floor space.  It’s at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.  I don’t know what happens in that room for the other 361 days each year.  I’m not even sure that this room  exists for the other 361 days of the year.  But, for four days each December, it’s filled wall to wall with just about every airshow performer who’s active anywhere in the us and Canada.  This is the exhibit hall at the International Council of Air Shows annual convention.

Standing at the back of the hall facing the doors way across the room, the Thunderbirds and the other Air Force TAC DEMO and static display pilots and leadership are off to the left against the far wall.  The Blue Angels and the rest of the Navy and Marine Corps contingent are on the opposite wall.  The Snowbirds are in the middle on this side.  Sean Tucker, Mike Goulian, Skip Stewart, Patty Wagstaff, Bill Stein, Rob Holland, Billy Werth, Greg Koontz, Kent Pietsch, Andy Anderson, Bob Carlton, Gene Soucy, Scooter Yoak, Team Aerodynamix, John Klatt . . . every one of them is in this room right now.  Hanging out.  Booking next year’s appearances. Swapping stories.  Doing whatever superheroes do when they get together each year between seasons. [Read more...]

ICAS Opens Strong

ICAS formally kicked off this morning with a keynote by Pittsburgh Steeler and Vietnam veteran Rocky Bleier. It takes a major personality to stand in front of a room like the convention room at ICAS, but a guy with four Super Bowl rings is probably just about right.  Bleier spoke for about an hour, recounting his NFL experience, being injured in battle in Vietnam, and his path back into professional football.

John Cudahy then announced the jet team schedules for 2013 and 2014, as well as the TAC DEMO schedules for 2013. It looks like the Thunderbirds will be back at Battle Creek next year and the Thunderbirds will be flying Oshkosh!

The Blues will be at Indy next year and at Traverse City in 2014.

These are, of course, the shows that are of most interest to me. Check the team websites for appearances near you.

Probably the most interesting part about the morning session was an airshow. Yes, an airshow! Mark Leesburg and Jeff Boerboon launched radio controlled aircraft and pwned the pilots of the 1:1 -scale aircraft by flying a demo directly over the audience.

I’m heading down to the exhibit floor now to see what’s new this year. More posts as more stuff happens!

Airshows 101 at ICAS 2011 – Audio Episode Show Notes

These are the show notes to an audio episode. You can listen to the show audio by clicking here: Better yet, subscribe to Airspeed through iTunes or your other favorite podcatcher. It’s all free!

I’m once again at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas for the annual convention of the International Council of Air Shows (“ICAS”).

It’s the annual event at which the airshow community in North America gets together to talk about the recently completed season, catalog the collective experience, and plan for the next year’s operations. Just about everyone who matters in the airshow industry is here in person or represented in one way or another.

I attend ICAS each year on media credentials. It’s a great opportunity to meet the performers whom I cover and make connections that help me to produce the show. The T-38 episode from January of this year was a direct result of a contact made at ICAS. Additionally, many of the performer cameos that you’re going to see in Acro Camp resulted from conversations over coffee or beer at ICAS. [Read more...]

ICAS 2011 – Day 1

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I’m here at the ICAS Convention at Paris Las Vegas for a few days. I again hit Airshows 101 yesterday and then got reacquainted with the airshow pros. The opening session kicks off in a half hour and then the exhibit hall opens for the first session mid-day.

I’m working on the Airshows 101 episode and have hopes of getting it out later today.

In the meantime, here are a few shots of the convention so far.

The first is a panoramic shot of the welcome reception last night. We had a nautical theme in honor of the centennial of naval aviation. My costume was a TSO’ed life vest. I gave it a 50-50 chance of making it through the party without someone pulling the handle to inflate it. The handle got pulled as I was making my last round of the floor before heading out to the bar. No worries. That’s what it was for. And now I have experience with yet another piece of emergency equipment. And, yeah, there’s got to be a way to log it.

The rest are shots of Le Central, better known as the “circle bar,” just inside the main entrance. Other than the parties at some of the suites upstairs, Le Central is the place to be. You can check out my episode from last year for a more complete gouge.

Back to work on the Airshows 101 episode!

Production Update: Return from ICAS, T-38A, Acro Camp Soundtrack, and More

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Okay, I think my head is back from Vegas and ICAS 2010. Great convention, lots of contacts made, and lots of friends revisited.

And lots on the hot plate for the next few weeks. Don, Barry, and I go into the studio on Friday to record parts of the Acro Camp movie soundtrack. I have all of the basic tracks down, but the real magic won’t happen until we’re all together with the instruments set up and the click track begins.

And I’m close to finishing the episode covering the T-38A flight with the 9th Reconnaissance Wing at Beale AFB. With that one, it’s an embarrassment of riches because of all of the great audio and video we captured. It’s no longer an issues of having a long episode. It’s an issue of how to make it shorter and more concise.

Rod Rakic and I will also likely record Part II of the Zero-to-Hero series, covering his intensive instrument and commercial training and me covering my multi-engine rating and DC-3 type school.

And there’s B-17 footage, Huey footage, and other great eye candy still in the can that I need to edit and get out into the feed.

I cant say enough things about this audience. Truth be told, I’d do this for my own benefit even if none of you tuned in. But knowing that there are thousands of you out there who really understand this stuff and care about it makes it that much more exciting. I’ll be channeling you guys in the studio on Friday and gain over the editing desk with the T-38A episode.

Airspeed alive, fuel, oil, rotate, climb, best glide . . . Smoke on!