All You Wanted To Know About Airshow Pilots

June 3, 2024

The Abbotsford International Airshow (AIA) is a premier event that showcases the incredible skills of some of the world’s best airshow pilots. These pilots perform breathtaking manoeuvres, leaving spectators in awe of their precision and bravery. But have you ever wondered what it takes to become an airshow pilot, how they prepare for these events, and who will be performing at AIA 2024? This blog post will provide you with all the answers.

How to Become an Airshow Pilot

Becoming an airshow pilot requires a unique combination of passion, skill, and dedication. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to embark on this thrilling career path:

  • Get Your Pilot’s License: The first step is to obtain a private pilot’s license (PPL). This involves completing a minimum number of flight hours and passing both written and practical exams. After that, you will also need to get a commercial license if you plan on charging the airshow organizer.
  • Aerobatic School: Experience is everything. To become an airshow pilot, you will need to complete your training, including an emergency manoeuvres training course, basic aerobatics, tailwheel endorsement and more.
  • ACE (Aerobatic Competency Evaluation): Join ICAS (the International Council of Airshows) and then find a qualified ACE (Aerobatic Competency Evaluator). 
  • Practice, Practice, Practice: Learn how to choreograph aerobatic manoeuvres and work on your routine! Once you have your routine nailed, enter amateur competitions and contests to start getting noticed.
  • Get Sponsorships: The more, the better!
  • Make Some Noise: The key to making it in the industry is to stand out. Once you do, you will start getting invitations to join both national and international aerobatic airshows.

How Do Airshow Pilots Create Their Routine?

Creating an airshow routine is an art form that combines creativity, skill, and strategy. Here’s how pilots develop their breathtaking performances:

  • Conceptualization: Pilots start by conceptualizing a routine that showcases their unique skills and style. The most important part of conceptualization is choosing the music they will use for their routine. The music is what sets the mood for the audience. 
  • Choreography: The routine is choreographed to include a mix of high-energy manoeuvres, graceful aerobatics, and dramatic stunts. The idea is to let the pilots’ personalities shine through the choreography. 
  • Feedback and Refinement: Pilots often seek feedback from peers and mentors. They refine their routines based on this input to ensure maximum impact and safety.

What Are the Best Planes for Aerobatics?

The choice of aircraft is crucial for airshow pilots, as it directly impacts their performance capabilities. Here are some of the best planes for aerobatics:

  • The Extra 330SC
  • The Edge 540
  • The Sukhoi Su-29
  • Pitts S-2C Series Planes

Which Airshow Pilots Will Perform at AIA 2024?

The Abbotsford International Airshow 2024 promises an exciting lineup of talented airshow pilots who will dazzle the audience with their incredible performances. Here are three of the star pilots to watch out for:

Melissa Burns

Melissa Burns is renowned for her dynamic aerobatic routines that combine precision with flair. At the young age of 22, she became the youngest female member of the USA Unlimited Aerobatic Team in history. Since then, Burns has been part of many competitions and events, always raising the bar of what’s possible in aerobatic aviation.

Burns’s unique style captivates audiences. Her performances blend technical prowess with artistic expression, making her a favourite at airshows worldwide. 

During the Abbotsford International Airshow 2024 you will be able to see Melissa Burns do what she does best in her Edge 540 airplane, a high-performance aerobatic aircraft widely known for its exceptional aerobatic capabilities. 

Kyle Fowler

Kyle Fowler is known for pushing the limits of aerobatic flying. He first entered the world of aerobatic airshows at the age of 12, when he began announcing his father’s performances at airshows.

His high-energy routines are packed with jaw-dropping manoeuvres and thrilling stunts. Kyle’s innovative approach and fearless attitude make him a standout performer. At AIA 2024, spectators can expect a heart-pounding display of aerial mastery in the 1986 Long EZ.

Bob Carlton

Bob Carlton is a legend in the world of airshows, with over three decades of experience and numerous accolades to his name. Known for his smooth and elegant routines, Bob’s performances are a masterclass in precision flying. He often flies unique aircraft, adding an extra layer of excitement to his shows. Oh, and did we mention that Bob is also a retired rocket scientist?!

At the AIA 2024, spectators will be able to see Bob Carlton doing all his best tricks in a Foxjet Twin-Jet Sailplane.

Get Your Tickets!

The Abbotsford International Airshow 2024 is set to be an unforgettable event, thanks to these incredible airshow pilots. Don’t miss the chance to witness their spectacular performances and experience the thrill of the skies! Get your tickets today!