Speaking of different, awesome and amazing (choose your adjective), AirVenture 2004 visitors have been willing spectators to an airshow routine that can only be described as NASCAR on steroids with (intentional) explosions. In August of 2002, airshow veterans Jimmy Franklin, Jim LeRoy, and Bobby Younkin came up with a concept called the "X-Team Masters of Disaster." We do not know whether large quantities of beer were involved in this brainstorming session, but the Masters of Disaster seems like something dreamed up by good friends who also happen to be great sticks with a tremendous history of air show performances. The routine opens with the warning that 90% of the act is unchoreographed, and is followed with a recorded message talking of the time when "machines roamed the earth unencumbered... opposed only by the annihilation known as the FAA." What comes next is pure, unadulterated, stand-up-and-scream mayhem ... even for the normally been-there, seen-that Oshkosh crowd.
Younkin in his big biplane Samson, LeRoy in his Pitts and Franklin in his jet-powered Waco all take off together and fill the sky with noise and smoke as pyrotechnics blow on the ground below. The unplanned acrobatics in the sky seem to bring the planes heart-stoppingly close to each other, and the sky soon goes IFR from the smoke. After several minutes, one or more of the Shockley jet trucks appear out of the wall of smoke, adding more noise, heat and flames. If Masters of Disaster comes to an airshow near you, pay whatever the admission charge is. If they appear at AirVenture '05, drop anything you are doing and come to see them. We promise you that the Masters of Disaster will rock your world, and may change the way you look at airshows in the future.