RJ Gritter: The son of a test pilot dad and a flight instructor mom, RJ has been in the cockpit his entire life. Growing up around the airport in Greensboro, North Carolina, he started flying before he was tall enough to see over the instrument panel! He soloed on his 16th birthday and got his private pilot license on his 17th birthday. RJ developed a passion for aerobatics through radio-control (R/C) flying. He started competing in R/C aerobatics at age 16 in national and international events, representing the US in indoor precision and freestyle aerobatic championships. R/C flying gave him a strong background for “full-scale” aerobatic flying. RJ attended school at North Carolina State University where he earned his Bachelors’ degree in Aerospace Engineering. After graduation, he moved to Manassas, Virginia where he works at Aurora Flight Sciences. Little did he know when he moved there that he would live just down the street from the Bealeton Flying Circus! The Flying Circus is the world’s longest-running airshow, hosting shows every Sunday from May through October. RJ joined the ground crew at the Flying Circus in 2015. He got his Decathlon at the end of 2015 and has since flown nearly 300 hours in the airplane, flying his first airshow at the season finale of the Flying Circus in 2016. He now flies an aerobatic demonstration there every Sunday. As a new airshow pilot, RJ has an 500ft solo aerobatic card, meaning he must stay above 500ft during the show. As he flies more and more shows, he’ll be allowed to fly lower and lower.
Dan Marcotte’s determination, drive, and visions have successfully propelled him into some of the top motor sport and aviation related arenas. By age 30, Dan had successfully made his mark in tow of the world’s most prestigious air and motor sport races. Dan achieved a personal goal of 300 MPH in 2010 at the World Finals, and earned a commercial pilot’s license and surface-level aerobatic waiver. In 2010 the Ultimate Biplane joined the fleet and has been Dan’s primary air show pane ever since. In 2015 Dan proudly introduced his Jet Car! Powered by a GE J85 Jet Engine from an F5 Fighter, the jet car is an entirely custom design, built from the ground up in his shop. When he’s not entertaining, Dan is an A&P Mechanic, Master Welder, Welding Instructor, and Fabricator. In addition to pursuing his aviation and motor sport dreams, he owns and operates MindWorks Creative Metal Fabrication. The shop specialized in custom design, repair, and fabrication services for racing and aviation enthusiasts. Dan Marcotte’s 2017 performance is sponsored by Saab Sensis Corporation.
David Brown is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and current member of the U.S. Air Force Reserve. He has over 30 years of flight experience in Stearman aircraft and has been flying for nearly 40 years. David has a Commercial Pilot’s license with single and multi-engine aircraft ratings and holds a Statement of Acrobatic Competency to fly acrobatics in the Stearman for airshows. David is also a Certified Flight Instructor and specializes in flight instruction and check outs in Stearman aircraft as well as other tail wheel type aircraft and warbirds. David was also the winner of the 2011 National Stearman Fly in “Masters Aerobatic Contest”.
Doug Jackson, of Wichita, Kansas, has owned “TORA 101” since 1982. Since then, Doug has flown “TORA 101” some 1500 hours in over 500 airshow performances throughout the United States. The most popular routine done by Doug in ”TORA 101” is the Zero Dogfight with long time Dogfight partner, the CAF P51D “Gunfighter” of Omaha, NE. Other routines available from “TORA 101” are a solo “Surprise Airfield Attack” routine (day or night), flying with other airshow warbirds, and static display before/after flying. Doug also flies “TORA 101” with the CAF TORA! TORA! TORA! Group, and is a member of most warbird and professional airshow organizations.
Adam Messenheimer grew up in Northern Virginia and began flight training out of Leesburg soon after graduating high school. He now holds single and multi-engine commercial ratings and is a certified flight instructor. Adam travels the country with his support team, competing in competition aerobatics, and is engaged in his first season of air show flying. He is honored to study under aerobatic hall of fame member, Bill Finagin. Adam enjoys riding motorcycles and playing music, saying that both help keep his mind prepared for the rigors of extreme flying. This year, he is very excited to fly in his home air show!
The Flying Circus airshow is a demonstration of the “Golden Years of Flight”, which is characterized by the barnstorming era that came about in the years between the two World Wars. The Flying Circus has grown not only in its membership, but also in the variety and number of aircraft in inventory. The aerial demonstrations, thrilling acts, and the ride hopping operations, which were central to the barnstorming era, are still an essential part of their program at The Flying Circus Aerodrome in Bealeton, VA. This year The Flying Circus returns to the Leesburg Airshow to impress the crowd with their skydiving skills.
CAF National Capital Squadron: Formed in 1957, the Commemorative Air Force is dedicated to preserving the history of American military aviation. The National Capital Squadron is based at the Culpeper Regional Airport in a hangar/museum building equipped for the maintenance and display of a fleet of aircraft known as the Ghost Squadron. The NCS now has a total of thirteen aircraft assigned or associated with the unit.
Scott Francis, originally from Wichita, KS and now residing in South Riding, VA, has been a licensed pilot for 29 years. The son of an experimental test pilot and the grandson of an airline pilot, Scott grew up around aviation and has been flying in airplanes as long as he can remember. His early graduation present in high school was training for and obtaining his private pilot’s license under the tutelage of a very strict instructor – his father. In 2003, after flying more or less straight and level for 18 years, Scott got the itch to do something different. He took a few aerobatic flying lessons and the hook was set. Less than a year later he purchased a Pitts Special and began competing at the Sportsman Level in International Aerobatic Club sanctioned aerobatic contests. Scott sold his beloved Pitts in 2007 and purchased a Giles 202 carbon fiber monoplane and moved up to Advanced Level competition. After winning a number of contests at the Advanced level, Scott moved up to Unlimited Level competition in 2012. In April of 2013 he acquired the airplane he currently flies – a 330 hp, all carbon fiber MXS aerobatic aircraft, and continues to fly a number of airshows and aerobatic competitions in it each year. In his “real life”, Scott is an electrical engineer for a defense firm in Alexandria, VA. He is also President of the Washington DC Area Chapter of the International Aerobatic Club. Scott’s 2017 performance is sponsored by The Saba Group Inc.
We are thrilled to welcome back announcer Hugh Oldham who has a long history in the entertainment business and has been narrating air shows for over 32 years. He attended first air show in 1952; performed in his first air show 1968, and his first house announcer gig was in 1976. Oldham’s narration style draws on a varied background in aviation. A former military and civilian aviator with over 3,000 hours; a RVN veteran; he has been a military air traffic controller, a parachute jumper, a crash helmet tester, a radio disk jockey, news and play-by-play radio broadcaster. He has looped and rolled across the sky in many different types of aircraft and even rode atop the wing of Ron Shelly’s 450 Stearman. Oldham has appeared in several nationally syndicated PM Magazine segments, on the A&E Network’s Dare Devils series and as the 2007 and 2008 on-air commentator for Fox 41’s TV live TV coverage of Thunder Over Louisville. He can narrate in the “first person” ‘cause he has been there, done that, earned the scars and has the tee-shirt!
*Subject to change*