SOURCE: Air Force Reserve

October 01, 2007 05:01 ET

Working Hard to Stay in the Box

LAS VEGAS, NV--(Marketwire - October 1, 2007) - Air Show fans see big, wide open skies against which soloists or teams of performers twist, turn, spiral, hover and loop. In fact, these pilots are confining their maneuvers to an imaginary box about a square mile in size, and they are mindful to stay a prescribed distance behind an invisible show line. However, the exact location of the air box and show line varies from venue to venue.

"Performers build their shows to intrigue, thrill, inform and, at times, amuse their audiences. Mine is based on a narrated history of air show flight. I know the sequence in which I will initiate certain moves," said Ed Hamill, pilot of the Air Force Reserve Biplane. "But, I usually have to make adjustments for the specifics of each location. That is why practicing at each venue is critical to aerobatic fliers -- the performance has to be crafted to fit the environment."

Ed Hamill, an aerobatic pilot who is also a member of the Air Force Reserve, will be flying the Air Force Reserve Biplane at Aviation Nation in Las Vegas, Nevada, on November 10 and 11.

"The highest I fly is about 1,800 feet, which happens at the top of the torque roll, then, from that point, I essentially fly backwards at a speed of about 50 mph," said Major Hamill, who is an F-16 instructor pilot in the Reserve. "The difference between flying a jet and the Biplane is extraordinary. The on board computer in the F-16 frees the pilot for other tasks, but the Biplane is strictly pilot controlled."

The Air Force Reserve Biplane is a beautiful, single engine biplane patterned after one built 50 years ago by legendary designer Curtis Pitts. It's six-and-a-half feet tall, shorter than many NBA stars, yet it can loop, spiral and dive at speeds up to 212 mph, far slower than an Indy car. The Biplane has a maximum gross weight of 1,300 pounds and the wings, which span 20 feet, are Dacron-covered.

"Constant practice is the only way to fly a safe air show. I always tell kids to set goals, work hard and never give up, and hard work is definitely an essential ingredient in that equation," said Ed Hamill. "Practice is one of the best ways of preparing for the unexpected."

Ed Hamill and the Biplane are proudly supported by the Air Force Reserve, a team of more than 70,000 men and women, who serve to keep America safe.

Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Marlene DeMarco