By Erin Delmore
“When you’re from the Midwest, like I am, there’s a lot of farmland, and when you can see the rolling hills and the trees it’s spectacular scenery,” said Wingman for Redline Air Shows Jon Thocker.
If you love the look of New Jersey, try it from 1,500 feet. Thocker and his lead pilot Ken Reider are taking it all in at the three-day Greenwood Lake Air Show — and they’re not in the cheap seats.
“We fly some maneuvers where we fly opposing, we come at each other. Then we fly some together stuff, formation things. It’s pretty exciting,” Thocker said.
“What’s really neat is the precision. It takes a lot of time and a lot of trust. Jon and I have been flying together for about 10 years, and to do this you have to know that guy’s going to be in the right spot at the right time. You know, he always jokes around that my job’s not to hit the ground and his job’s not to hit me,” Reider said.
“I basically just follow him and it’s kind of like a roller coaster for somebody that’s riding. It’s a lot of fun to do,” said Thocker.
No kidding. I took the Van’s RV8 for a spin, one of about 10,000 kit airplanes worldwide. Thocker built this one himself. It travels up to 200 miles an hour — that’s nearly twice the speed of the fastest roller coaster in North America.
“In larger formations to keep the radio chatter down we use hand signals so Ken can signal me with different movements of the plane or different hand signals and position me around the airplane
The three-day-long festival features top national and international performers.
“We have Carol Pilon coming in from Quebec, Canada. She’s been wing walking for most of her life, decided to pick it up after seeing it on TV. She’s been a part of multiple teams and now she’s doing it solo with her pilot,” said organizer Gina Siciliano.
“Oh man, it feels like Superman. I get to fly. I’ve got the wind all over my body. It’s absolutely fantastic. It’s almost like trying to ride a roller coaster in a hurricane,” Pilon said.
Air show runs Friday through Sunday. Record online sales, expecting upwards of 35,000 people.