Page 10 - World Airshow May-Jun 2019
P. 10

GREG KOONTZ: FROM THE ACE




                                    What Can You Say?





                               T    he following is all true. I have   kind of behavior was typical for John. So, I told him I had to see
                                    changed the names and I am
                                                               a different respect for safety before I would consider doing an
                                    purposefully vague about
                                                               evaluation for a SAC card. That resulted in a long conversation
                                    dates and locations. This is
                              about likable people, loved and re-  and no hard feelings. I really thought the whole thing might have
                                                               made a difference. But, the very next year John was doing an
                              membered by friends and family. I   airshow in a neighboring country. The night before the show he
                              would rather respect their memory   was seen partying heavy late into the night. The next morning, he
                              by leaving it anonymous.         blacked out on his very first pass in the show. A great person and
                                Just a few years ago, I was invited   friend to us all was gone that fast.
                              to do an airshow in one of the most   The next year I was back at the show where I first met John.
                              interesting and beautiful countries in   That year I watched “Ron” fly his big Navy trainer in the show.
                              Central America. It was my first time   The act lacked polish. It was mostly high-speed low passes in
                              there. I have been traveling south of   every direction. What was bothering me was the passes mostly
                              the border doing shows for 24 years   came low across the crowd with harsh pull ups that were barely
                              in several countries. I love the people   missing everything – buildings, trees, people, everything. While
        of Central America. I was pleased to visit a new place there.  we watched, the director of another Central American airshow
          Airshows south of our borders are run quite a bit differently.   asked me if he should hire Ron for his show. I told him with no
        There is no ICAS type organization, even though ICAS welcomes   hesitation that he should not consider it. I said he was an accident
        their membership. There are few airshows and few rules for them.   waiting to happen.
        I would never say that Central American shows are particularly   When Ron landed, I politely approached him and told him
        unruly. Nobody wants to die in an airshow, or even the bathtub   what I thought of his flying. His “playing chicken” with everything
        for that matter. But, speaking for myself, I think there is a greater   standing two feet or higher was not impressive, it was just blind
        temptation to do some showing off in their airshows.   recklessness. Ron was a nice enough guy not to get upset with my
          In Central America, pilots have only a few opportunities to   bold advice, he just didn’t take it seriously. A couple of airshows
        fly airshows, so experience is mostly practicing with no critique.   later, Ron screwed up a half Cuban Eight, barely missing a
        There is no certification, so proficiency goes a bit unchecked. This   crowded grandstand, but definitely hitting trees. Ron got what he
        leaves a variety of skill sets that depend on the diligence of the   was asking for, but the young man riding in the back seat lost his
        individual to be at their best. Some have gone to notable schools   life to the careless attitude of another.
        for instruction, some get none at all. I have taught aerobatics to   So, what would you have said? What words can you use to stop
        a few pilots there, and I can tell you they are generally very good   a freight train headed for disaster? I know speaking alone doesn’t
        sticks!                                                work. It has to be larger than that. Safety comes from a culture
          While at this show, I was approached by “John” to do an ACE   of safety, like what we’ve developed for decades here in the USA.
        evaluation while I was there. John wanted to come to the USA to   It allows us to talk to someone with the support of that culture
        do a few airshows. He too was a good stick, but far removed from   backing us up. I think that works.
        the disciplines we follow in the USA. Just the day before, the USA
        performers, including me, sat down and briefed a photo flight    Greg Koontz is a full-time airshow performer and teaches basic
        where a photographer was to be in a boat in the channel and we   aerobatics at his Flight School/Bed & Breakfast called Sky Country
        would make various passes posing for photos. In a shoot like this,   Lodge. Greg is a former chairman of the ICAS ACE Committee,
        three is definitely a crowd, so good planning is essential.  holds an unlimited aerobatic waiver, and has been designated a
          Right in the middle of our active shoot, with planes zooming   Master Certified Flight Instructor-Aerobatics by the National
        everywhere, John decided it looked like fun and dove in to get   Association of Flight Instructors. Please send your comments/
        some passes at the boat. That worked like throwing a wrench   questions to Greg@GKairshows.com
        into a fan. But scaring everybody from time to time with this

















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