Barnstorming 1920s biplane to perform at Stuart Air Show

STUART — The Stuart Air Show will celebrate its 30th anniversary on Nov. 1 when it kicks off at 6 p.m. at Witham Field in Stuart.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News/Janelle Folk
John Klatt Air Show’s Jack Links Extra 300L flies over the St. Lucie Inlet on Oct. 30.

The air show is a three-day event featuring thrilling performances by nationally known performers such as The Air Combat Command USAF F-16 Viper Demonstration Team, AeroShell Aerobatic Team and the Navy Leap Frogs.

One of the teams performing in the event is John Klatt Air Shows. John Klatt pilot and crew chief Dell Coller took to the skies on Oct. 29 to talk about the upcoming air show in Stuart and to give Lake Okeechobee News readers a preview of what they have in store for the event.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News/Janelle Folk
The Extra 300L is equipped with smoke to make air show performances even more visually appealing.

“This air show is going to have a big variety of acts,” explained Coller. “There’s a lot of different types of flying. There’s going to be military jets, civilian airplanes and formation aerobatics. The airplane we’re going to be flying, the Jack Links Screamin’ Sasquatch, is a 1920s biplane that we put a jet engine on. It’s the only one in the world. This is the only one flying around and it is quite a sight to see.”

The 1929 taper-wing Waco was once the aircraft of choice for the aviation barnstormers of the 1930s and 1940s. The team at John Klatt, with the help of Jack Links, added a jet engine and highly modified the Screamin’ Sasquatch to allow it to handle the unique aerodynamic forces encountered during aerobatic flight. Portions of the aircraft’s structure have been converted from wood and fabric to carbon fiber and the cockpit has been moved 3 feet toward the rear of the aircraft in order to accommodate separate fuel tanks for both the jet and prop engine.

Coller has 22 years of flying experience and says that performing in air shows can be a unique experience because, unlike many other types of performances, you don’t see or hear feedback from your audience while you’re performing.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News/Janelle Folk
John Klatt pilot and crew chief Dell Coller was all smiles following the practice flight on Oct. 30.

“You are somewhat insulated when you’re in the airplane,” said Coller. “Really you’re just concentrating one hundred percent on the job at hand. Every performer probably approaches that a little differently. For me, what I’m thinking about during the flight is putting on a consistent, entertaining show each time. And then after the flying is done and I’m on the ground, that’s when I get to see the impact it has made and see people excited about the performance.”

The one-of-a-kind enhancements made to the Jet Waco allows the plane to achieve feats other stunt planes are unable to do. Along with reaching speeds up to 250 mph, the aircraft can perform snap rolls, spins, barrel rolls and hover. The plane has a thrust ratio of greater than one to one, which allows it to accelerate going straight up.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News/Janelle Folk
The Extra 300L is a two-passenger, FAA inspected, commercially available aircraft, purpose-built for aerobatics. It is one of the most widely flown aerobatic airplanes in the world today.

The John Klatt team also fields a Extra 300L, which is a two-passenger, FAA inspected, commercially available aircraft, purpose-built for aerobatics. It is one of the most widely flown aerobatic airplanes in the world today.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News/John Klatt Air Shows
The Jack Links Screamin’ Sasquatch Jet Waco. This 1929 taper-wing Waco was once the aircraft of choice for the aviation barnstormers of the 1930s and 1940s.

The Stuart Air Show is scheduled to have a United States Air Force (USAF) Heritage Flight. The flight, which was created in 1997 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the USAF, incorporates fighters from World War II, the Vietnam War, the Korean War and other conflicts in which the USAF has been involved.

John Klatt’s Screamin Sasquatch is scheduled to take the skies around 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 1 and at 3:20 p.m. on Nov. 2 and 3.
The Stuart Air Show will start at 6 p.m. on Nov. 1, with gates opening at 5 p.m. Discount tickets are available for military veterans.

Richard Marion is a staff writer and photographer at Lake Okeechobee News and can be reached at rmarion@newszap.com.

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