GEICO Skytypers Discuss Flying, Maintaining their World War II Aircraft

The historic warbirds of the GEICO Skytypers Airshow Team are poised to perform at 25 location in 2021. (GSAST)

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The GEICO Skytypers Air Show Team has begun their new season primed with a historic flight demonstration display loaded with aerial maneuvers flown during the second world war.

The GEICO Skytypers showcase low level maneuvers and create huge sky typed messages over the air show. The civilian squadron’s history dates back to the 1970s, and 15 years as the GEICO Skytypers.

Their flight demonstration at air shows highlights their Navy SNJ-2 aircraft as the pilots tell the story of an age before the jet engine. A flight trainer in the early-1940’s, the SNJ was known among the U.S. Army’s aviators as the pilot maker.

“There’s not a point in time when I get into this airplane that I’m not fully aware I’m flying a piece of history,” GEICO Skytypers right wing pilot Chris “CT” Thomas told during an exclusive interview on Monday. “It’s a 1941 SNJ-2 so it’s an ex-Navy airplane.”

GEICO Skytyper Pilot, Maintainer Focused on the Squadron

The Skytypers have become an air show favorite as they showcase the aerial assault of a World War II dogfight. As the warbirds soar across the sky, they also generate massive sky typed messages for the air show crowds.

“These machines are amazing, if you look at the engines with the case off, they look like a swiss clock,” GEICO Skytypers Director of Maintenance Frank Atria said. “Here it is 80-years later and they’re still airworthy, they’re still doing their job, and they make for great performances.”

The squadron includes lead pilot Larry Arken in the Skytyper one aircraft. Arken and pilots Chris Thomas, Mark Gannucci, and Chris Orr are the diamond formation. Steven Salmirs and Tom Daly perform as the more aggressive solo pilots who challenge the diamond during several maneuvers.

GEICO Skytypers lead maintainer Frank Atria inspects the engine of a Navy SNJ-2. (Charles A Atkeison)

GEICO Skytypers back-up pilot Jim Record provides a stirring narration during each maneuver. Timed to patriotic music selections, their display is an exciting moment of living history.

The living history of these historic warbirds continue to ‘wow’ audiences at air show sites. The squadron is scheduled to perform at 12 show sites across the eastern United States in 2021. 

GEICO Skytypers 2021 Air Show Schedule
Apr 17-18…… Cocoa Beach Air Show, Fla.
May 8-9………. Ford Lauderdale Air Show, Fort Lauderdale, Fla
May 29-30….. Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach State Park, NY
Jun 19-20……. Ocean City Air Show, Ocean City, MD
Jul 3-4………….. Kansas City Air Show, Kansas
Jul 17-18……… Greater Binghamton Air Show, New York
Jul 26-Aug 1… EAA Air Venture Oshkosh, Oshkosh, WI
Aug 18………….. Atlantic City Airshow, Atlantic City, NJ
Aug 28-29……. New York Air Show, New Windsor, NY
Sep 18-19…….. NAS Oceana Air Show, NAS Oceana, VA
Oct 16-17…….. Lockheed Martin Air and Space Show, Sanford, FL
Nov 6-7………… Warbirds over Monroe Air Show, Monroe, NC

(Charles A Atkeison reports on aerospace and technology. Follow his updates via social media @Military_Flight.)