Flyby — stunt pilots visit schools

Learning about the skills needed to be a stunt pilot, along with the importance of teamwork and practice, students from around the county were given the opportunity to meet Team AeroDynamix, as they prepared for their show at the recent Rotary Balloon Festival.

Students in fourth grade at Curtin Intermediate School, 85 Eldred St., was one group that heard first-hand what it takes to be up in sky doing maneuvers with airplanes.

To help the students understand what they do at their shows, Mike Stewart, flight lead for the team, showed a video of the team doing a variety of stunts. The students were obviously impressed as a chorus of “Ohhs and Ahhs,” were in effect throughout the presentation.

But Stewart, who was joined by teammates Jerry Morris and Len Leggette, stressed that they aren’t able to do the things they do without practice.

“It definitely takes a lot of practice,” Stewart told the students.

It’s that practice that not only gives the audience a good show but keeps the pilots safe, Stewart said.

“What’s really important to us

is safety, so what we do is we spend a lot of time practicing,” he said.

And the pilots added that teamwork is a big part of their act as well, as planes are flying no farther than three feet away at times. Team AeroDynamix is the world’s largest air show team, having as many as 11 planes in the air at a time.

And it’s that sort of choreography that makes it imperative that all team members work together. Stewart explained that the team comes up with a plan each show on what they will do and when.

He added that some situations require them to think as a team in order to solve a problem. As he explained, there’s more “brain power” as a team than an individual.

“Everything we do, we do as a team,” Stewart said.

The team also explained a few of the other parts of being a stunt pilot. Stewart said that in order to make the smoke trails behind the planes, the team actually injects oil into the planes’ exhausts.

He also said that the planes are all made by the pilots. He described building a plane as a large erector set.

“Can you believe we get in planes we built ourselves?” Stewart asked the students.

And when asked why they do what they do, Stewart said because “it’s fun.”

“It’s all about teamwork and having a good time,” he said.