Yesterday Fabgrandpa and I went to Russell Field in Rome, Georgia to meet with the GEICO Skytypers before the Wings Over North Georgia Air Show opened to the public. The show is this weekend, October 12-October 13, 2013. The 2013 Smoke and Thunder BBQ Classic will also take place during the show. While none of this was going on while we were there, we still had a great time, and got a look at some of the things that went on the day before a big event.
We are not new to getting ready for big things. We worked for five seasons at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon for the National Park Service, so we were the ones who got things ready for the world to come to the canyon every year, and that was a lot of work. We were just glad we were there to observe yesterday!
The best part about the event we attended was getting to meet the GEICO Skytypers, an air team that writes giant letters in the sky that can be seen for miles. The press release for them says
“The team performs a thrilling, low-altitude, precision-formation flying demonstration. The pilots fly six WWII-vintage aircraft, coming from all directions and filling the sky to provide spectators a unique viewing experience while showcasing the tactics and maneuvers utilized in training during WWII.”
While talking with the pilots, I found out that the team originated after World War II, and the original team members were pilots during the war. The team has been together for five generations, and some of the current pilots are related to the original guys.
I interviewed Chris Orr, the pilot on the far right in the picture above. Here are a few of the questions I asked him, and his answers:
Me: How long have you been flying?
CO: I’ve been flying since 1992, when I was a Navy pilot, so 21 years.
Me: How did you get into doing air shows?
CO: A friend of mine got me into it. I started out shuttling planes from one place to another for the show, and got to be a member of the flying team three years ago.
Me: (actually Fabgrandpa asked this one) Is this a full time job for you?
CO: I am actually a commercial pilot. Flying in the air show is a part time job. Most of the pilots in the air show are commercial pilots.
Me: Has your grandmother ever seen you perform in an air show.
CO: No, unfortunately my grandmother has passed on. But, she did see me fly when I was a Navy pilot and she was very proud of me. One of my grandmothers was actually a pilot, but I don’t think she ever got her license. She loved flying!
Me: How long does it take to learn a new routine or stunt?
CO: It takes a couple of months. We practice new routines in the spring before we start doing shows.
After my interview with Chris, we went over by the planes to take some pictures.
Another photographer who was there told them to pose “like pilots pose” and here is the result:
I had a chance to talk to the Skytypers manager, Vince Giampietro.
Me: How long have you been with GEICO?
VP: I’ve worked with GEICO for 28 years. I manage many other GEICO events around the country, not just the Skytypers.
Me: How many air shows the Skytypers do each year?
VP: They do 12 shows per year.
Me: What is your favorite city for doing an air show?
VP: um, Rome, Georgia. (wink wink)