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The Enduring Passion of Controlled Flight: Biplanes Rock!


LAS VEGAS - Air Shows are packages of emotion -- the shock of jet teams as these supersonic aerospace vehicles buzz the crowds, the nostalgia and patriotism of the heritage flights as historic planes and their contemporaries parade before the audience, and the romance of the biplanes as they create intimacy with the spectators. The biplanes perform low and close -- sometimes seeming within reach of the fans.

One of these show stoppers who flies these little gems is Ed Hamill, pilot of the Air Force Reserve Biplane, and he will be performing at the 2007 Mid-Atlantic Fly-In, Lumberton, NC, on May 18, 19 and 20. Ed was commissioned in the Air Force and became an F-16 pilot and then an instructor for 11 years before joining the Air Force Reserve.

“By joining the Reserve, I could pursue my passion for aerobatic flying and continue to serve my country as an F-16 instructor. It really is the best of both worlds,” said Ed Hamill, who is a Major in the Air Force Reserve. “There is no comparison between flying an F-16 and the Biplane. The jet is virtually controlled by the on-board computer, leaving the pilot free to focus on the weapon systems. The Biplane is totally under my control. It’s pure stick and rudder.”

The Air Force Reserve Biplane is a beautiful, single engine biplane patterned after one built 50 years ago by legendary designer Curtis Pitts. It’s six-and-a-half feet tall, shorter than many NBA stars, yet it can loop, spiral and dive at speeds up to 212 mph, far slower than an Indy car.

The Biplane has a maximum gross weight of 1,300 pounds and the wings, which span 20 feet, are Dacron-covered. Parked on the runway, the Biplane looks amazingly small. Yet in the air, this very personal aircraft forms a link with the audience as visually it guides the spectators through the history of air show flight.

“I constantly tell kids to set goals, work hard and never give up, and the Air Force Reserve Biplane is the vehicle through which I can get this message out,” said Major Ed Hamill.

Ed Hamill and the Biplane are proudly supported by the Air Force Reserve, a team of more than 70,000 men and women, who serve to keep America safe.


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