Air show performer Tim Weber is one of those people who have been lucky enough to find a flying job they love.
“I have been doing this 12 years,” he said with a smile during a recent stop in Tacoma, Wash., for a July 4th air show. “It is my full-time job and I can’t imagine doing anything else.” The star of Tim Weber Airshows Inc., Weber is on the road six months out of the year. “This year we are doing 20 to 21 shows,” he said.
The “we” he refers to includes his support team. The team is in charge of managing aircraft and other equipment. The ground support crew travels in a large motor coach that carries everything from a four-wheel Gator they use as transportation at air shows and fly-ins to the display booth and T-shirts and other corporate sponsor giveaways. The airplanes, motorcoach and the Gator are emblazoned with the names of Weber’s corporate sponsors, insurance company GEICO and Next Student, a financing company that helps people get loans to pay for education.
“You keep your sponsors happy,” Weber said. “I’ve been with GEICO for about four or five years. NextStudent is a new one.”
Weber acknowledges that, although he is certainly the most visible part of the show, there’s a lot of action behind the scenes.
“There are a lot of moving parts,” he said. “I would say that 30% of my time is flying, the rest of the time it is dealing with corporate sponsors. We can have up to 20 people working in the booth at a show, but it all comes down to me. If one of the people in the booth does something goofy, I am the person who gets talked to.”
Weber’s entry into the world of aviation is almost Disney-esq. As a boy he lived within bicycling distance of an airport. He started his aviation career as a 13-year-old watching airplanes through the fence at an airport in Phoenix. His fascination with aviation led to a job as a lineboy, trading work for flying lessons.
He started flying gliders, then transitioned to fixed-wing powered aircraft. Along the way he developed a taste for aerobatics. He has flown a variety of aircraft, from ultralights to Stearmans to the Pitts Special, the Russian YAK 55M and several types of jets, including the F-16.
For his air shows, he flies an Extra 300.
“In my personal opinion it has the most bang for the buck,” he explained. “It is the best for performance and is a fast cross-country airplane. This is also the second Extra that I have owned. The last one I flew for 1,300 hours before I sold it.”
Weber also is a musician and composes music for his performances.
“I put on a show that has cadence, flow and energy,” he said. “Start to finish I pull between +9 to +10 Gs and four to five negative Gs. Everything is done by a timer in the cockpit,” he said. “I rarely duplicate moves during a performance. Each performance is precise, though. From day to day the timing of each particular maneuver can be within six seconds of the same maneuver the day before.”
Weber also is an aerobatic competency evaluator for the International Council of Airshows, as well as a certified mechanic with A&P and IA ratings.
Our time with Weber was limited. As we said our good-byes, Weber was preparing to take up a couple of local TV reporters.
“It’s a busy day,” Weber noted with a smile that said he wouldn’t have it any other way.
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