Airshows and Aircraft

Airshow Performers

Airshows and Aircraft

Airshow
Performers

Blue Angels during airshow

Meet the Performers

The performers in the SUN 'n FUN Aerospace Expo Air Show are truly master pilots. Read below to learn more about each of our extraordinary performers.

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Blue Angels

In 1946, the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Chester Nimitz, had a vision to create a flight exhibition team in order to raise the public's interest in naval aviation and boost Navy morale. In the 1940's, we thrilled audiences with our precision combat maneuvers in the F6 Hellcat, the F8 Bearcat and the F9 Panther. During the 1950's, we refined our demonstration in the F9 Cougar and F-11 Tiger and introduced the first six-plane delta formation. By the end of the 1960's, we were flying the F-4 Phantom, the only two seat aircraft flown by the delta formation. In 1974, we transitioned to the A-4 Skyhawk, a smaller and lighter aircraft allowing for a more dynamic flight demonstration. In 1986, we celebrated our 40th Anniversary by unveiling the Boeing F/A-18 Hornet. In 2021, we are proud to be flying the fully redesigned and upgraded F18 Super Hornets in celebration of our 75th anniversary!

Michael Goulian

Mike Goulian doesn’t just fly an air show; he attacks it. Millions of air show spectators around the globe have witnessed the ferocity of a Mike Goulian air show performance. Every roll, pull, and tumble of his flight is a deliberate execution of precision. With his aggressive approach to the air show arena, Mike Goulian has mastered the ability to convey his message of passion through flight. He is also a contender in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship. There he competes in the prestigious Master Class, flying at exotic venues in front of millions of people around the world. Despite Mike’s successes he remains humble and accessible to organizers and fans alike. This rare combination has made Mike Goulian an unforgettable air show favorite.

Greg Koontz

Greg Koontz learned to fly in 1969 getting his Private Pilot Certificate when he turned 17 years old. In his senior year in high school, Greg restored a 1946 Piper J-3 Cub in his mother’s garage and flew the antique plane for 300 hours to gain experience for a flying career. At age 20, Greg got his start in the airshow business when he bought another Piper Cub from Ernie Moser in St. Augustine, Florida. Today Greg is a full time airshow and aerobatics professional. Since 2003 he has been sponsored by American Champion Aircraft which supplies him with new Super Decathlons to demonstrate in front of millions of people each year.

Rob Holland

Rob Holland is one of the premier airshow performers and freestyle aerobatic competition pilots in the world today. His 28 international competition medals place him in an elite group of competitors. Rob’s rise to the top started as a young airshow fan in his native New England. Earning his pilot’s license while still a teenager, Rob began flying aerobatics almost immediately, all while building valuable flight time and experience as a corporate pilot, commuter pilot, banner tower, flight instructor, ferry pilot, and operating his own aerobatic flight school. Now in his 18th year as a full-time airshow pilot, Rob has distinguished himself by blazing a trail of innovation, developing maneuvers never before seen at an airshows.

Class of '45

The “Class of ‘45’s” origins are really quite simple. While watching practice at the Wings Over North Georgia airshow in October of 2013, pilots Jim Tobul and Scott Yoak were discussing the USAF’s Heritage and U S Navy’s Legacy flights.

Jim, owner of the F4U-4 Corsair “Korean War Hero”, and Scott, owner of the P-51D Mustang “Quick Silver” started talking about doing a formation flight of their own to honor the service personnel who flew and maintained these legendary American fighters. Both aircraft were the pinnacle of military technology at the time, technology that helped win the war in the European and Pacific Theaters in World War Two, and went on to continue the defense of freedom in the Korean War.

Thom Richard

Thom Richard flies his TP-40N Warhawk "American Dream" in a dazzling performance of the iconic fighter's incredible capabilities. You can see it on the ground up close and talk to Thom about his remarkable story of a Swedish immigrant who has realized his own American dream to become a pilot and successful businessman here in the U.S. From Reno Racing to operating Warbird Adventures in nearby Kissimmee, FL, Thom has truly accomplished much in his 30-plus years of flying, and he's just getting started!

If you want flight instruction—or to get a type rating!—in a classic World War II fighter from a pilot’s pilot who lives to fly and loves to share his American Dream, this is your chance.

Contact Thom at WarbirdAdventures.com or by calling 407-870-7366.

US Navy Leap Frogs

Over sixty years ago, freefall parachuting started to come into its own and The US Navy Leap Frogs were in the middle of it! The Parachute Team has represented the Naval Special Warfare (NSW) community for decades, slowly and steadily developing their craft. Getting their start in 1969, Navy SEAL (Sea, Air, and Land) and Underwater Demolition Team members began volunteering at weekend airshows and was eventually commissioned as the Leap Frogs in 1974. The Leap Frogs represent their elite community at airshows and perform at a number of events each year such as the X-Games and major league football, baseball, and soccer games while also providing demonstrations for schools, clubs, and nonprofit agencies; and run a robust tandem program.

Gene McNeely

After 20-plus years flying with the Aeroshell Aerobatic Team, Gene retired in 2017, but couldn't stay on the ground for very long. Getting his start, Gene McNeely started flying airshows in 1986 and has been on the AeroShell aerobatic team, flying a Wasp-powered North American T-6 ever since. With a total flying time of 15,000 hours+, McNeely's aeroshell display consists of classic aerobatics in close formation. Particularly during the second half of the routine, McNeely and his team break into trail formation for maneuvers reminiscent of a tail chase. Aeroshell performs their routine during the day and at night, with lights illuminating the propeller and smoke system.

Warbirds

Warbird enthusiasts, this one is for you. Each year, SUN 'n FUN invites current WARBIRD owners to participate in the Aerospace Expo to combine the past, present, and future of aviation. Making their debut as early as the 1920s, WARBIRDS are known as any type of former military aircraft that are now owned privately by individuals who share a love of all things vintage and history. The term "warbird" was used to describe not only WWI and WWII-era fighters but also early Cold War-era fighter jets. As time went on, the term has also broadened which types of WWI, WWII and early Cold War-era aircraft can be considered “warbirds”. Get ready to watch as dozens take flight!

Mike Wiskus

Better known as "that crazy guy in the orange biplane" 2002 U.S. National Aerobatic Champion, and a member of the 2004 U.S. Aerobatic Team, Mike Wiskus, tests the limits of human flying. Known as the Super Stinker, the S-1-11B was created for competition. Mike has owned the Lucas Oil Pitts S-1-11B since 2000 and, with the help of Tom Kerns, rebuilt it after purchasing it on eBay as a wreck. The Lucas Oil Pitts has been modified from its original build by adding full-span ailerons for a faster roll rate, 60% larger rudder and elevator for more authority, longer gear allowing Michael to stand the aircraft up in-place without hitting the propeller, always striving to get just that much more out of this incredible bird. Over forty years later, Mike has accumulated more than 25,000 flight hours and has qualified in more than 40 aircraft. 

Kevin Coleman

Coming in stronger than ever each year, Kevin Coleman gained his wings at the young age of 18 as one of the youngest performers in airshow history, wowing crowds by pushing the limits for what defines as extremist. Starting at the young age of 10, Kevin took lessons and aerobatic training with late aviation and aerobatic legend Marion Cole, and since then, has logged more than 2,500 hours. Climbing higher and higher, the sky is the limit for Kevin, who performs as an Air Show Pilot, Red Bull Air Race Challenger Class Contender, U.S. Advanced Aerobatic Pilot, Louisiana Tech Aviation Graduate, and more! You won't want to miss Kevin in action as he rolls his Extra 300 aircraft at 400 degrees per second performing daring maneuvers that push the limits of his mind and body at +/- 10 G’s.

David Martin

David has a standard for excellence that encompasses every aspect of aviation from performing aerobatic shows to aircraft restoration. His success as an airshow performer grew from an interest in flying at a very early age. David's interest in aviation was not surprising, since his grandfather and father were both airline pilots. David has a degree in aviation from Southeastern Oklahoma State University and has experience flying corporate jet aircraft and in the Texas Air National Guard. Today, he's one of the most versatile airshow performers on the circuit, flying full-blown airshows in multiple aircraft. 

Gary Ward

It's been said that Gary puts on the most exciting and entertaining performances you will ever see in any aircraft. His first solo flight was at age 16 in a Piper J-3 Cub, and his passion for aviation has grown ever since. Gary graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology with a degree in Aerospace Engineering and worked as a design engineer on the Cessna Citation for Cessna for about a year. 

In 1998, Gary began flying in airshows in a Pitts S2-B, and later in a Giles 202 from 1999 through 2005. In 2006, he became the first pilot to fly airshows in the new MX2, a high-energy monoplane that is strong, fast, and agile. Gary puts on an exhilarating show jam-packed with breathtaking gyrations that makes full use of the power and agility of the MX2.

Bob Carlton

Bob has been called one of the most versatile airshow performers in North America! He has logged over 2000 hours in a wide variety of aircraft since he started flying at the age of 19. Bob's an award-winning aviator, having received the 2017 Art Scholl Memorial Showmanship Award, the 2015 Bill Barber Award for Showmanship, and the 2015 Soaring Society of America's Chairman's Award. He recently Super Salto jet sailplane, with more power, more speed, and more aerobatic capability than any other sailplane on the planet!

Larry Kelley
in "Panchito"

You won't want to miss a chance to see this one-of-a-kind aircraft! Panchito is a B-25 model, more specifically - Captain Don Seiler's B-25J of the 396th Bomb Squadron. "Panchito" was named after the feisty rooster in the Disney film "The Three Cabarellos." The B-25 flew 19 missions over Japan from December 1943 to October 1944. Air Force records show aircraft serial number 43-28147, Panchito, as being “condemned for reclamation” in the Philippines on December 4, 1946. It was finally reported that reclamation was completed on July 13, 1949. Panchito is still in flying condition today!

Manfred Radius

Award-winning Manfred Radius has been described as a 'Sailplane Superstar' and as 'The King of Sailplane Aerobatics'. He has logged over 5,000 flights and accumulated over 2,000 hours in at least 60 different sailplanes since he began flying at age 17. He reached a pinnacle in his career in 1974 when he achieved an altitude of 35,000 feet above sea level over the Rocky Mountains near Colorado Springs. Not only is Manfred a top professional air show performer, but he's also competed in several glider aerobatic championships. His airshow performances have been described by spectators as fantastic, mesmerizing, and awe-inspiring. 

Phillips 66 Aerostars

The Phillips 66 Aerostars are a real treat to watch and a source of inspiration for all ages. They have been performing together for over a decade. The team includes Harvey "Boss" Meek, Paul "Rocket" Hornick, David "Cupid" Monroe, and Gerry "Fossil" Molidor. Each of the pilots has unique backgrounds, specialties, and roles on the team, but they come together to put on amazing shows and perform together side-by-side, just a few feet from one another, at speeds of around 250 mph. The Phillips 66 Aerostars have a combined 80 years of professional flying experience and continue to dazzle spectators at air shows around the world. 

Jacquie Wanda

Not only is Jacquie an amazing entertainer, but she’s also an inspiration to many! When Jacquie turned 50, she launched her solo aerobatic career. It took her years of working, saving, and never giving up on her dream, but she now has over 3,200 flight hours and more than 1,100 coast-to-coast air show performances under her belt. 

Jacquie currently flies an Extra 300 monoplane, which is faster and more capable of maneuvers than her previous biplane. Her plane also has two seats, which is perfect because she loves giving rides and sharing her passion for flying with others!

Paul Dougherty

Paul offers unique acts set to toe-tapping modern-day music that you’re sure to love! Paul has been flying airshows since 1998 and has flown over 70 different aircraft throughout his career. He is the co-founder and president of the Golden Age Air Museum in Bethel, PA, and an expert restoration technician, having restored many aircraft for the museum.

Enjoy watching Paul execute torque rolls, tail slides, and tumbles in his 230 horsepower Christen Eagle, or experience the thrill of the barnstorming era with his 1930 Great Lakes. Paul’s daughter, Caroline, acts as a crew chief, business manager, and announcer of Dougherty Airshows, and her energy brings even more excitement to the performance.

Patty Wagstaff

Patty puts on breathtaking airshow performances giving spectators a front-row seat to the precision and complexity of aerobatics. Her love for aviation began at age 10, when her father, an airline captain in Japan, let her take the controls of his DC-6. Since then, she has won many awards, been inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame, and was the first woman to win the title of US National Aerobatic champion and one of the few people to win it three times.

Patty has flown aerial displays all over the world, including South and Central America, China, Russia, Europe, Singapore, Kenya, and Iceland. She continues to fly airshows worldwide, while also contributing to running the aerobatic school she founded in St. Augustine, FL in 2013.

Jerry Kerby

Jerry has over 13 years of air show experience and over 400 low-level performances in high-performance aircraft! He began flying lessons when he was 15, soloed on his 16th birthday, and received his pilot's license on his 17th birthday. By the time he entered the United States Air Force’s Officer Training School in 1983, he had already earned his Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) License and logged approximately 4,300 flight hours. Jerry retired from the United States Air Force in 2006 after 23 years of service. 

Jerry is currently the Vice-President of Operations for Draken International, Inc., a Department of Defense Contractor headquartered in Lakeland, Florida. He also flies as an Aggressor Pilot for the company helping to train both US military fighter pilots and those from US ally countries. Jerry’s passion for aviation shines through in his performances!

Patrick McAlee

Patrick puts his intense personality and hardcore passion into every performance. He received his pilot’s license at age 17 and his commercial and flight instructor rating by age 18. By 23, Patrick received his A&P License and was hired on by Republic Airlines, where he was upgraded to captain within a few years. 

Patrick is both a successful airline pilot and an airshow pilot. While working as an airline pilot, he continued to compete in airshows and placed top-ten in the nation each and every time for five years. He promotes the art of flight every chance he gets and strives to be the best entertainer and performer for all generations. 

F-22 Demo Team

F-22 engines produce more thrust than any current fighter engine, and the combination of sleek aerodynamic design and increased thrust allows the F-22 to cruise at supersonic airspeeds, which makes for a great show! The F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team performs precision aerial maneuvers at airshows across the world to demonstrate the unique capabilities of this amazing aircraft.

Major Joshua "Cabo" Gunderson is the United States Air Force F-22 Demonstration Team commander and pilot. He is stationed at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Hampton, VA. Joshua is responsible for representing Air Combat Command, the United States Air Force, the Department of Defense, and the United States of America at more than 20 air shows annually. You won’t want to miss an opportunity to see his team perform.

Aeroshell

For over 25 years, The AeroShell Aerobatic Team has performed tight, awe-inspiring formation aerial maneuvers in front of millions of airshow fans all over North America. 
Leading the charge, their team is made up of four aviation experts that are well-known throughout the industry. Fun fact: Mark Henley, Steve Gustafson, Bryan Regan, and Jimmy Fordham will be flying the AT-6 Texan (nicknamed “The Pilot Maker”) in unison. The AT-6 aircraft was originally designed as a basic trainer for the United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) and was the primary training platform for all U.S. airmen in World War II that went on to fly fighter aircraft such as the P-51 Mustang, F4U Corsair, P-40 Warhawk, and others.

Jim Peitz

The SUN 'n FUN Aerospace Expo is ecstatic to have another recipient of the most prestigious award in the airshow industry, Jim Peitz in our action-packed lineup. Jim had the honor of receiving the International Council of Airshows Sword of Excellence award. A true aviation enthusiast, Jim Peitz began teaching himself aerobatics in 1992 and has since amassed over 14,000 incident-free hours in over 100 aircraft types! For over 10 years he has been flying the F33C Beechcraft Bonanza at airshows around the country. The specialized Bonanza is capable of a wide range of aerobatic maneuvers including loops, point rolls, barrel rolls, snap rolls, Cuban eights, and hammerheads. Trust us, you won't want to miss this incredible, legendary performance.

Support The Mission

The mission of the Aerospace Center for Excellence (ACE) is to “Engage, Educate, and Accelerate the Next Generation of Aerospace Professionals. The SUN ‘n FUN Aerospace Expo and dozens of other events year-round produce the majority of the revenue that goes into supporting this mission. By attending our events, you are helping us deliver top-quality, industry-leading STEM education and scholarship programs to thousands of young men and women each year. The opportunities that ACE provides give young people a competitive edge as they navigate their educational journey that can ultimately lead to a rewarding career in the world’s incredibly diverse and rapidly growing aerospace industry. You can help! Please click the links below to explore how you can share your knowledge and expertise as a volunteer in over 3500 available positions, become a patron of the Florida Air Museum, or donate to assist us financially. Regardless of how you assist, whether by attending our events, visiting the museum or donating financially, we sincerely appreciate your support!

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