Historic GEICO Skytypers Aircraft to Highlight America’s Top Airshows

The GEICO Skytypers Air Show Team will visit 15 air show sites in 2019. (Charles A Atkeison)

BEAUFORT, S.C. — The GEICO Skytypers Air Show Team, famous for their low level maneuvers and huge sky-typed messages, have released their new air show schedule as they prepare to take flight to begin their long awaited season opener.

The Skytypers’s six Navy SNJ-2 aircraft will demonstrate the dog-fight flying styles and maneuvers flown by the Greatest Generation nearly 80 years ago. The team will tell you they are not an aerobatic squadron, but a formation squadron who tell the story of the pilots who controlled the skies during World War II and Korea.

“Event attendees can expect a new, dynamic demonstration that displays the capabilities of the pilots showing what these “warbirds” are made of,” Squadron commander Larry Arken said. “Air show spectators and aviation enthusiasts won’t want to miss our new routine at 15 air shows across the country.”

Each of these World War II aircraft have a rich history behind them. The squadron’s popularity has risen as they continue to co-headline many of the nation’s top air shows performing with both the Blue Angels and the Air Force Thunderbirds.

“It’s a very dynamic demo with a lot of things happening very quickly with some maneuvers a tribute to the era of the generation of these World War II airplanes,” Arken added. “Other things are done for the spectators view like a heart or a bomb burst, and other maneuvers are tactical maneuvers which the military still uses.”

The GEICO Skytypers six aircraft formation demonstrate tight, precision flight. (Atkeison)

They Carry the Torch of the Greatest Generation

The six pilots who fly the vintage SNJ-2 single engine aircraft are lead by commanding officer Larry Arken in plane 1. Skytyper 2 through 6 pilots include Chris Thomas, Mike Brockey, Chris Orr, Steve Salmirs, Tom Daly, and Kevin Sinibaldi. Skytyper 7 pilot is Jim Record and he is the team’s advance pilot who arrives a day early to meet with the air show’s management. Skytypers 8 pilot is Steve Kapur.

The team’s 18-minute flight demo is not their only highlight during an air show. If the weather permits, the Skytypers will create a massive dot matrix sky-written message above the airfield.

Flying five aircraft in a tight, line-abreast formation, the planes coordinate in typing messages with environmentally friendly puffs of white smoke. Using an on board computer in Skytyper 1, a custom-programmed tablet sends commands to the other aircraft via radio signals. The messages can be seen from nearly five miles away.

On the ground, the Skytypers spend their time at each air show site visiting hospitals and education centers with their public outreach program. The team has also been know to host student groups at the air show for a group discussion plane side, and the chance to climb aboard their aircraft.

The GEICO Skytypers carry the torch forward for the Greatest Generation of pilots, and demonstrating their story high above the air show crowds during their 20 minute demonstration. The Skytypers’ dedication and skill inspires many to want to learn more about the history behind these aircraft and the aviators who piloted these silver doves through the smoke blackened skies of war.

The GEICO Skytypers’s Navy SNJ-2 aircraft are the original air frames built in 1940. (Atkeison)

GEICO Skytypers 2019 Air Show Schedule:

April 6-7……………… Sun ‘n Fun International Fly-in and Expo, Lakeland, FL
April 27-28………….. MCAS Beaufort Airshow, SC
May 4-5……………….. Fort Lauderdale Air Show, FL
May 11-12……………. Joint Base Andrews Air Show, Camp Springs, MD
May 25-26……………. Bethpage Air Show, Jones Beach, NY
June 8-9……………….. The Great Tennessee Air Show, Smyrna, TN
June 22-23…………… Vectron Dayton Air Show, Dayton, OH
August 20-21……….. Atlantic City Air Show-Thunder over the Boardwalk
August 24-25……….. New York Air Show, New Windsor, NY
Aug. 31-Sept. 2…….. Cleveland National Air Show
September 21-22…. NAS Oceana Air Show, Norfolk, VA
October 12-13……… Atlanta Air Show, Hampton, GA 
October 27-28……… NAS JAX Air Show, Jacksonville, FL
November 2-3……… Florida International Air Show, Punta Gorda, FL
November 8-9……… NAS Pensacola Blue Angels Homecoming Air Show

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