News 12 at 11 o'clock / Sunday, Oct. 16, 2011
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Daniel Field didn't look the same this weekend after Boshears Skyfest took over.
"It's really exciting for us being pilots. We come into these towns, and we're just treated so well. We get to meet all the local people and hang out at the local airports," said Mike Stewart, aka Kahuna.
That's exactly what he and his crew was doing Saturday morning. They're known as Team RV.
"We're the largest air show team in the world, and we're based out of the Southeast -- North Carolina, Georgia, Ohio," he said.
On a nice cool, clear day, they were here in Augusta for Boshears, but before the big show, they took News 12 along on a practice run. We climbed into the passenger seat of Stewart's RV-8 and took off with the rest of the team.
"The pilots that are flying these planes have an absolute passion and love for what they're doing. We of course not only enjoy the flying, but the camaraderie of being in a team like this," he said.
They're formation pilots and shows like Boshears are their lifeblood.
"I work for IBM. For my day job, I'm a computer guy. We have a banker. We have sales guys. About half the team is retired military fighter pilots, so it's a mix of civilian and military pilots," Kahuna said.
High over Augusta, the formation pilots assembled. The rest of the team released streams of white smoke as they glided over Stewart's glass cockpit bubble.
"What's really unique about the team is that we built all of these airplanes. These are home-built aircraft. The pilots that are flying these built them at home," he said.
And the pilots of these RV-8s are experts at piloting them safely.
"What we do here is quite safe. The FAA being here, and the lines that are drawn, and how we fly our airplanes, the way we manage our energy away from the crowds and so forth is very very important to both us and the venue," Stewart said.
And despite the recent accidents at similar events in Nevada and West Virginia, he says he feels safer in the air than he does on the interstate.
It is important to note that the air race in Nevada is different from Boshears. An air race is where airplanes compete in an oval race like NASCAR. An air show is more of a performance.