Gene Soucy Interview
("Mister Air Show")
He’s known as “Mister Air Show” and for good reason-----he’s won more awards than any other active air show pilot!!
A 3 time U.S. and Canadian National Champion, his exciting performances have entertained audiences on 4 continents.
We are talking about none other than Mr. Gene Soucy.
Q – Gene, how did you get interested in flying?
A – Oh, I’ve been around airplanes all my life ‘cause my parents were both pilots. My mother soloed when she was still in high school. She was 16. My dad flew since he was 18. When I was growing up they just went to the airport every weekend so I just kind of ended up out there liking airplanes.
Q – How many planes do you own?
A – I’ve got 3, the 2 I use in the air show plus the little twin Comanche.
Q – You started flying professionally in 1968, at the air shows. What did you do for a living before that?
A – Well, I started out as a Flight Instructor teaching other people. I turned 18 and I got my commercial license and then I used to work at the airport teaching people how to fly.
Q – You were a Captain for a major airline. Are you able to say which one?
A – Yeah. I guess. Northwest. Still am. That’s my main job.
Q – How many air shows do you travel to each year?
A – Usually around 20 weekends each year. Doing 2 day events normally. Some of ‘em are a week long. April through November.
Q – How many people are out there doing what you do for a living?
A – I’d say maybe 30 or 40.
Q – Just in the U.S.?
A – No. I’ve got some friends in Russia and France. There are people all over the world that do air shows.
Q – Why do you think people like to watch your act?
A – The action. They like motor sports. These powerful things. Racing. Boats. Cars. Airplanes. Things of Action. Noise. Things that give you that feeling deep in your body. The noise they make. Excitement. I’m sure that’s what appeals to people.
Q – It’s dangerous up there isn’t it?
A – I would think any time you deal with machines going fast-----yeah.
Q – Have you ever had any close calls?
A – No, not really. But, you have to recognize what it is. You have to be professional about it; train and have the right equipment. Know your routine. Practice. It’s just like any professional figure skater or whatever. Gymnast. You have to practice.
Q – If you’re working full-time as a pilot for Northwest-----when do you get to practice?
A – I do an air show every week. You rehearse on Thursday and Friday. Saturday morning. Sunday morning. Anytime.
Q – You were part of the Eagles Aerobatic Team.
A – Yeah.
Q – Were they similar to The Blue Angels or the Thunderbirds?
A – Yeah, identical, except we were civilians, not military and we only had 3 airplanes instead of 6. We flew airplanes with propellers instead of jets. When the Blue Angels started they had propeller airplanes also. The difference in our team is we were the same 3 pilots for 25 years. The Blue Angels rotate their pilots every 2 years. So, we flew together longer than anybody had.
Q – Where did you take that act?
A – We competed in the World Championships in England once and France once but mostly doing air shows in the U.S. and Canada.
Q – When did you team up with (Wingwalker) Teresa Stokes?
A – I think this is our 19 th year. Since ’88.
Q – If being an aerobatic pilot is unusual, a wing walker must really be unusual.
A – Yeah. There’s only 3 or 4 wing walkers.
Q – Where did she get her experience?
A – I’ve wanted to start a wing walking act. After I built the airplane we started practicing. We’d rehearse on the ground at first, then flying around real slow and easy and worked into it.
Q – You also own a restaurant in St. Augustine, Florida?
A – Yeah. Part-owner in a fly by restaurant down there.
Q – What kind of a place is that?
A – Its a little airport restaurant and bar type thing.
Q – What do you serve?
A – Kind of like a Bennigan’s type place. Just serve lunch and regular food. Cheeseburgers, nachos. You name it.
Q – You’ve got your hand in just about everything don’t you?
A – I don’t have much to do with that. I just invested in it. I stay busy flying the airplanes.
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