How To’s (and NOT-To’s) For The Airshow Pilot

Learn from your peers. Watch how other successful performers act and do businesses. Ask questions. They have all been where you are now and are more than willing to help guide you in the industry. The more you succeed the more the industry succeeds.

Do not schedule your annual, medical, SAC or anything else the week before a show. You never know what could show up on your annual or medical and it is not fair to put an airshow in a position to find a replacement because of your lack of time scheduling.

As soon as possible send your paperwork into the airshow. Nothing is more frustrating for a show than to have to chase down performers for paperwork. Almost every performer can be faulted for this at one point in their career.

The people who put on and work at an airshow are volunteers. Treat them with respect. They are doing the best that they can. Volunteers are also the most valuable commodity a show can have and are not always easy to find. There is never a reason for you to yell, swear or demean a show’s volunteer. Remember some day the guy at the gate could be the president of the show one day and believe me he will remember how he was treated.

Remember you are always being watched. Be conscious of your manners, appearance, posture, teeth etc. If you are a smoker never let them see you smoke.

When you are hired for an airshow you are working for that show from the time you leave your house to the time you leave the show. Every person you meet along the way is a potential customer for that show. A performer had stopped at an airport to fuel up before going to a show that was an hour’s drive away. They insulted every one at the airport that day. They were condescending and spoke down to them. What they did not realize was that two of the people they were rude to were volunteers at the show they were heading to. After hearing how about the behavior of the performer it was decided that they would not be invited back to that show.

Another performer was at a show and was in a sponsored hangar. They were so rude to their ground crew and to others around them that the owner of the hangar almost threw them out. Another performer stepped in to help calm the owner down and to run interference. Because of this behavior the show has lost this hangar space for their next show. You are not just there to impress the crowds.

Media rides!! What can I say? Your job is to wow the media so they will give the show a glowing review. One performer took a reporter out and went straight into his routine. When she got out of the airplane she fell to the ground and starting getting sick and laid there for over an hour. What do you think her story was like? Also what about all the other reporters and camera crews looking on. Media day is the best advertising and last chance for advertising an airshow can do. If you are a smoker please do not smoke before giving a ride. The smell of the smoke in a small airplane on a hot day with a nervous passenger is a recipe for disaster. Remember what your role is – you are an ambassador of that show.

Arrival times. Be there when you say you are going to be there. If you are delayed, call. Show have cars, hotels possibly media and meals waiting for you and this costs them money. Keep the show updated on your progress especially when the weather is bad so it gives them time to cancel things if necessary.

If there is a problem at a show keep your opinions private. A performer had an issue at a show and was extremely vocal about how he felt things were being run. He did not seem to care that he was venting these feelings in front of customers and sponsors. If you have an issue that needs to be resolved take it behind closed doors were it is meant to be. Because one of the people who overheard this performer was a producer of a show that he was to perform at in a couple of weeks it was decided that they did not want to deal with someone who did not respect the airshow. Once again you never know who is watching and listening to you.

Understand your limits as to what you are able to offer a show. Put a limit on the amount of media rides you can safely do in a day. If you are not comfortable doing interviews or rides on the show day say so. If racing a car is not for you, speak up. Safety is of utmost importance at all times. Never compromise yourself to ensure a hiring at a show.