So here I am at 2500 AGL, flying across the country on a three day quest, under the gun to get to my next air show in a bright red, seventy year old Stearman piloted by my trusty friend, Marcus and yep….you guessed it, I am bored. So bored in fact that I am writing a bleeping blog about it. There is obviously no pleasing me. I could name twenty people, right now, who would sacrifice all and others to be in my place. Colour me impatient.
Seems like as good a time as any for a catch up and update, for those who might care. Marcus and I just did our season wrap on filming with Historia for an upcoming show that will air in May of 2016. The previous show that we filmed with: Airshow, featured on Discovery, has had it’s run. Airshow aired in Canada, Latin America, Europe, Africa and Arabia. It’s a weird feeling to know that aviation fans in Egypt and Iceland alike now know my name and follow me on social media. The world is truly a smaller place…..unless, of course, you are trying to get across it in a Stearman.
I saw a lot of dedication, commitment and frustration during the making of Airshow and I learned much about this new industry that my toes were dipping into. Plenty of lessons learned on the saga. I was disappointed to see that it was not renewed but nothing ventured equates to nothing gained. Several will view our non renewal as a failure but at the end of the day I managed to place Wingwalking in front of seventeen million worldwide viewers, every week, for twelve consecutive weeks. Several of the characters managed to form an actual fan base that transcended both events and the industry alike and several of us became draws for the events that hired us. I would be lying if I said that I had expectations that were not met but I still feel like Wingwalking got a heck of a showcase out of it. I would venture to say that it has never had a broader audience.
Looking to the future, Airshow will start to air in Quebec, in French in a week. It will be followed by the new show that I am working on for the History channel, in the spring and Third Strike Wingwalking will make a rededication to Wingwalking that I hope the industry will welcome. Third Strike will be branching out into different forums and as usual, I will keep doing exactly what I love doing: Wingwalking on my pretty red mistress.
I also decided that it was time to start passing the torch. I have been hesitant in this for several reasons. The most obvious is that once I have given someone the ability to be a wingwalker, I have also given them the ability to enhance or hinder the art form and the industry. I only get to find out which one later though. I am also faced with the reality that my protege could go against my teachings or worse, they could die. That is a big bullet to own. The most prevalent issue however is much more pragmatic. How do I offer my students an environment in which they can thrive or at the very least, not compete directly against me, their tutor? The drive to compete in order to remain fiscally viable in this industry can seriously affect operational safety. As an industry, no one really wants to acknowledge this but I am pretty conscious of the phenomenon. Once you know something, it’s pretty hard to unknown it…
I decided that I could at least avoid some of the pitfalls simply by adding a position or two to my team.
Dual wing acts have been seen before but not quite like this. Third Strike will continue to offer the best entertainment that a dollar can buy but we will be forging a future for Wingwalking. At this point, there are so few of us and frankly, our best days are mostly behind us. Wingwalking features mature aerialists accompanied by an aging pilot base. Third Strike is motivated to ensure continuity in the art form through hands on training programs accompanied by the dissemination of a profound knowledge base. We hope to offer a training environment that offers security, safety, peer assessment and review and a frank sharing of knowledge that is inclusive of all aspects of operations.
My fingers are icing up as I tap out this message. It is pretty chilly up here today. I also find myself gazing out at that big red wing to my right and imagining a slight figure moving in and around the wires with nothing more than a tether and a smile to keep the danger at bay. I’ll be darned if it isn’t scaring me a bit. It’s going to be a great year. I can feel it in my bones!
Throttle it up, a Baby!