to perform for Regatta crowd
flies an American-made,
experimental hot rod airplane
(July 2012) Brett Hunters earliest memory
is sitting on top of a stack of phone books in order to fly his fathers
Piper Tri-pacer airplane. Now 43, the Waynesville, Ohio, aerobatic pilot
has 25 years of flying experience under his wings. He no longer needs
the phone books.
For the second year in a row, Hunter is set to perform during the Madison
Regatta on July 7-8. He will entertain crowds on the river with the
Grote Industries Air Show between races throughout the day. Each show
will run approximately 10 minutes.
pilot Brett Hunter
says his hot rod plane
fits his flying style.
From deciding he didnt want a real job
to building his house next to a runway, Hunter has made a career and
a lifestyle out of flying. In the summer, air shows are popular at events,
like airport openings and fireworks displays, giving him plenty of opportunity
to get up in the air. He performs his aerobatics routine at air shows
and airports around the country. He also flies a corporate airplane
for a real estate company in Ohio.
Hunter flies an Experimental Pitts airplane based on a design from 1947
and built in 2000. The equivalent of a 1942 Hot Rod, the American-made
muscle plane complements his style of aerobatics.
Im geared toward high-energy and a thrill factor,
he said. I try to give people something they havent seen
airplanes do before.
The Pitts houses an engine built by Magnum Engines. As far as Hunter
is concerned, it is the heart and soul of his airplane. Engines
bring a plane to life, he said, and people are going to
feel it shaking through their bones.
But the action takes planning. Hunter designs his own flight routine
and modifies it based on the location. For the Madison Regatta, he has
to adjust his flight pattern and turnarounds allowing for the span of
the river, the Milton-Madison Bridge and the crowds in Milton and Madison.
However, Hunter said his familiarity with the Ohio River area should
make for a satisfying flight.
Theres a danger element, Hunter admitted, but
its showmanship. He said he always tries to inspire an interest
in aerobatics in someone watching from the ground. Like any other kind
of performer, Hunter still likes to watch air shows and learn from the
different techniques of other pilots.
One other pilot is Madisons Cliff Robinson, who has performed
an aerobatics routine for 10 past Regattas. He said he enjoyed the experience
of performing for his hometown and hopes to do so again.
Robinson, 63, learned how to fly airplanes from his father, a World
War II flight instructor. His fathers farm near Vevay, Ind., featured
an airstrip that made flying easily accessible to him from a young age.
He began flying solo when he was 16 years old.
When Robinson originally learned aerobatics, it was not a matter of
providing entertainment but a matter of efficiency and safety. His father
believed that all pilots should know how to do aerobatics in the event
they found themselves flying at an unfavorable angle. If one knows aerobatics,
Robinson said, then whatever position you get that airplane in,
you can recover.
Flying does not completely monopolize Robinsons professional life.
He is a real estate broker and owns Hoosier Hills Realty, but he has
been in the aviation business for more than a decade. He performs air
shows in a big and noisy Boeing biplane. He also pilots
a Super DeHavilland (a faster airplane used to supplement his air shows),
an aerobatic training airplane called a Decathlon, as well as a standard
Robinson has worked in virtually every capacity a pilot can work, including
commercial flights, crop dusting, aerobatic showmanship and flight instruction.
Operating out of the Madison airport, he often takes passengers on rides
over the Jefferson County area in his biplane. He has given more than
a thousand rides in the last 12 years.
Robinson has been flying for more than 40 years. In that time, he has
spent more than 8,000 hours almost a full year in
At least he gets his exercise at the same time. There is lot of
physical work involved, he said. From the ground, it probably
looks graceful, but in the cockpit theres a lot of effort going
on steering and pushing and pulling. Its like working
out in the weight room.
It is clear that piloting is important to Robinson. The same is true
for Hunter, who does not think of flying as a mere form of entertainment.
It is even more than a way to make a living. To him, flying is freedom.
Aviation is one of the last forms of real freedom that you can
enjoy in the U.S., he said. When youre on the highway,
you stick to the pavement. In the sky, I can do what I want. I can wander.
For information on Brett Hunter, visit
For information on Cliff Robinson, visit cliffrobinsonaerobatics.com.
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