For more than 40 years, Kent Pietsch and his Interstate Cadet S1A Jelly Belly aircraft have put air show goers on the edge of their seats with his death-defying aerial stunts.
Once again, the spectators at this year’s Travis Air Expo and Open House scheduled for May 3 and 4 will have the opportunity to witness a small, yellow plane covered with painted jelly beans leave its mark on their air expo experience.
Since 1967, Pietsch has logged more than 33,000 flying hours and performed his aerobatic routines for millions of people across the U.S., yet the passion to fly has never faded for this veteran pilot and consummate entertainer.
Unlike many airshow performers who showcase only one act, Pietsch’s routine at the Travis Air Expo and Open House will consist of three separate acts for the audience to enjoy.
His shows, which include specialty acts designed to thrill audiences of all ages, showcase aerobatic stunts featuring airplanes that lose parts, engines that quit midflight and landings onto runways mounted on moving vehicles.
“It’s hard to pick a favorite act because each one of them presents a different challenge,” Pietsch said. “But both the comedy and truck-top landing require
a lot of focus, which keeps them rewarding.”
Pietsch’s comedy act serves as the cornerstone of his overall performance and it’s what he originally began his air show career doing. The routine consists of Pietsch losing an aileron and a tire and tossing other objects out of his airplane in a humorous attempt of what not to do when flying an airplane.
Additionally, his newest act was born just for “the pure fun of it” when Pietsch and his friends perfected landing on a moving motor home.
While landing an aircraft on a moving vehicle might seem like one of the more dangerous ways to make a living, Pietsch’s dead stick act might serve as the most tense moment for the audience. Yet for Pietsch, turning off your engine at 6,000 feet is actually his most comfortable performance.
“The dead stick act is a more peaceful show until I get near the ground and have to plan the landing to roll out on target,” he said. “It is designed to demonstrate that even without power or major parts of the airplane, it can still be flown and accurately landed to within inches of where the pilot wants it.”
Pietsch estimates that he has performed nearly 3,500 acts throughout his illustrious career and while he has extensively traveled the country, he fondly recalls his performances at Travis.
“I have always been impressed with how a big operation can operate so smoothly,” he said. “I would like to say that I have met some valuable friends at Travis throughout the years.”
To learn more about Kent Pietsch, visit www.kentpietsch airshows.com.