Inside Airshows – Part 2: With a Mic in My Hand – 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:  http://traffic.libsyn.com/airspeed/AirspeedNarratorWithPreRoll2.mp3.  Better yet, subscribe to Airspeed through iTunes or your other favorite podcatcher. It’s all free!

A narrator can make or break an airshow act.  Especially for an audience that doesn’t understand what it’s seeing.

You’ve heard me say it before.  John Mohr, Greg Koontz, Kent Pietsch, and others cast pearls before swine.  I don’t mean to sound rude or elitist.  It’s just true.  Most of the audience has no idea how difficult some of those maneuvers are.  You and I know that it’s very often not how fast but how slow, and not how high but how low, that is the really amazing thing about an airshow performance.

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If the announcer isn’t there telling the crowd  what to look for, there’s no way they’ll get it.  Take John Mohr.  He rolls a stock Stearman inverted low to the ground.  He holds it there until the engine sputters and eventually quits from fuel exhaustion.  The Stearman has a very slow roll rate.  If John doesn’t do a lot of things right – and immediately – he’ll make contact with the ground inverted in an open-cockpit aircraft.  He has to know without a doubt that he can get the aircraft rolled upright in time to either get the engine restarted or land on the wheels. [Read more...]

Inside Airshows – Part 1: Running Away to Join the Circus – 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:  http://traffic.libsyn.com/airspeed/AirspeedCircusWithPreRoll.mp3.  Better yet, subscribe to Airspeed through iTunes or your other favorite podcatcher. It’s all free!

There are three things you need to know about yourself.  Who you are, what you want to be, and, if there’s a difference between the two, what you’re going to do about that difference every day for the rest of your life.

Sometimes, the act of answering those questions creates a change that alters who you are in profound ways.  I answered those questions in 1998 after I watched the Tom-Hanks-produced HBO miniseries From the Earth to the Moon.  Being honest, the answers were (1) law student and soon-to-be-lawyer, (2) astronaut, and (3) – well, what?

Shortly after passing the bar and beginning law practice, I decided to look into flight training.  Even knowing that becoming an astronaut was a non-starter, being the pilot in command of an aircraft was a pretty good step in that direction and it gave me most of what I needed in the way of inspiration.

It wasn’t long after becoming a pilot and beginning to add additional ratings and endorsements that I began to regularly go to airshows.  The desire to get close to airshows largely spawned the podcast to which you’re now listening, still active more than seven years and 200 episodes later.

I’ve been in the photo pit and on the ramp and actually inside the airshow box during shows for years.  I remain thankful to Roger Bishop, Patti Mitchell, Brett Bailey, and others at airshows from Battle Creek to Indy and otherwise for truly wonderful access.

But the perspective that I had, and that I conveyed, was that of a fan.  There’s nothing wrong with being a fan.  But I wanted to go deeper.  I wanted to know what it was like to be a part of the show.  To get so close to the performers, the crews, the air boss, the announcer, and the others who actually put on a show that I could tell a real story from that perspective. [Read more...]

ICAS Convention – Wednesday

It’s Wednesday.  Although the convention goes on through tomorrow, I’m bugging out on a red-eye flight this evening.

Every day at ICAS is cool, but today is doubly so.  It’s flight suit day.  All performers are encouraged to wear their flight suits.  In years past, I have either not worn a flight suit or I have attended in CAP uniform representing CAP.  This year is a little different.  By dint of having flown a couple of shows with the Tuskegee Airmen Flight Demo Team this season, I’m an airshow performer and I get to wear my zoom bag for real.  I’ll be posting new content soon on that process but, in the meantime, it feels really good to have earned the right to wear sage green on this exhibit hall floor with these people.

I spent this morning at the Air Force and Navy/Marine Corps forums.  These are opportunities for the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps to talk to airshow organizers and others about what it takes to get a military demo or static display and how to host them when they arrive.  It’s also an opportunity for me to get up close with the people who might ultimately be in a position to arange the kinds of media flights that Airspeed listeners have grown to expect.  I’ve had a great experience so far and have a few people to whom to send proposals, so it’ll again be a busy post-ICAS couple of weeks.

My hotel check-out time is looming, so I need to pack up and check my bags.  Then it’s off to another exhibit hall session and hanging out with my airshow bros until it’s time to head out to KLAS for the flight home.  Watch my Facebook page and my Twitter feed for more information and news from the 2012 ICAS Convention.

ICAS Convention 2012 – Tuesday Ends

My first full day of the 2012 ICAS Convention ended well.  The exhibit hall opened in the morning shortly after the jet team announcements and it was time to check out all of the new stuff for the 2013 season.

The Aerostars hosted a Redbird G1000 C-172 in their booth and I had a chance to fly around Niagara Falls, including an ill-fated attempt at a wingover abeam the falls.  With all of my airshow flying, I haven’t had the opportunity to get much instrument work in this season, so I’ve been dependent upon a Redbird unit at Solo Aviation at the Ann Arbor Municipal Airport for currency.  Both this unit and the Ann Arbor installation are great units.

Franklin’s Flying Circus brought the new Dracula: The Rise of Vacul aircraft and it’s drawing a lot of attention, taking up multiple booth spaces with lots of production value.  I love the huge control surfaces and the apparently massive engine.  This one if going to be fun to watch this season.

No ICAS convention would be complete without hanging out at Le Central (the “circle bar”) with airshow pros.  I had the chance to meet Ryan Keough in person after all these years, as well as hang out with Matt Jolley, Billy and David Werth, and Liza Eckardt.  And, of course, just sit there at the bar and watch my heroes walk by like it’s ICAS or something.  I hit the hay at 0200L and I’m not firmly on Pacific Time.  This can’t bode well for my condition upon arrival Thursday morning back in Detroit.  But it’s ICAS . . .

 

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!