Air show pioneer William W. “Pappy” Kobelt, the Thrasher Brothers, and lifelong performer Eddie Andreini are the 2013 inductees into the International Council of Air Shows (ICAS) Foundation Hall of Fame.
Andreini (pictured) has performed in nearly 1,000 air shows over a period just shy of 50 years, flying a customized Russian Yak, a modified 500-hp Super Stearman and, beginning in 2012, a fully restored P-51 Mustang. Andreini also earned the ICAS Sword of Excellence in 2004. Performing primarily on the West Coast, he has also flown internationally, including in Canada and Australia.
“There is always some small child who you know just became passionate about flying because of what he saw my plane do,” he said. “Or even an older person will tell me that my performance really went deep into his or her heart and touched him in an unexpected, but so meaningful way. That, for me, is what keeps me flying.”
Kobelt established Kobelt Airport in 1958. Located in New York State, the airport was intended to support Kobelt’s power line patrol operation. But since he was also an air show performer in a Ryan PT-22, he soon added an aerobatic flight school, one of the first in the country.
Kobelt Airport became the aerobatic mecca of its day with fly-ins, air shows and the school. In the early 1960s it was “the” place to find performers, where fledgling aeronauts and experienced fliers went to aviate or just hang out. Today’s performers, competitors, and flight schools owe a debt to Pappy Kobelt for his foresight and love of flight. Kobelt died in an automobile accident in 1966, but will always be remembered as a visionary with a passion for flight, aerobatic training, and air shows.
The Thrasher Brothers – Grady, Richard (Bud) and Tunis – performed from 1945 to 1950 in 378 air shows from Houston to Erie, Pa., to Miami, and were known for organizing and promoting their own shows, known as the Thrasher Brothers Aerial Circus. They also performed as featured acts in other established shows, along with pilots such as Woody Edmunson, Bevo Howard, Betty Skelton, and Ben F. Huntley.
Their outrageous performances included the aerobatic routine of their Twin Ercoupe (two airplanes bolted together sharing common outer wings), a Piper Cub which took off with Bud hanging on a wingstrut during a complete airport traffic pattern, a “World’s Smallest Airport” (cartop landing), car-to-aircraft human transfers, and a parachute jump with Bud displaying an American flag.
The Thrashers, Kobelt, and Andreini will join the list of 59 honorees who have entered the Hall of Fame since 1995. The ceremony will be held on Dec. 5 at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas during the annual ICAS Chairman’s Banquet.
The ICAS Foundation Hall of Fame was created in 1995 as an independent nonprofit organization to honor those who have made a significant impact on the air show industry, to educate today’s generation about their contributions, and to recognize the industry’s top performers throughout the history of air shows.
For more information: ICASFoundation.org