Jim Parker Interview
(Jim Parker Airshows)

For over 30 years now, Jim Parker has delighted millions with his low-level aerobatics.
Whether it’s headlining at a major airshow or performing at a special event, Jim and his Pitts S-25, Yak 55m and Salto Sailplane have established a level of aerobatic entertainment that is unrivaled.
A resident of the Warren/Sugarbush, Vermont area, Jim’s business stays close to his love of flying-----including air-show productions, performing, and sales and service of aerobatic and special-purpose aircraft which includes the Aviatt Pitts, Yak 55m, and the 2-place Yak 54.

Q – Jim, how is it that you perform all over the U.S? Do you actively seek out the work or does the work come to you?
A – There’s various means. There’s a large organization called The International Council Of Airshows which I’m a charter member going back 30 years or so, and through that you build a reputation. It meets in Las Vegas once a year-----all the performers, sponsors, suppliers. We all meet and show and tell what we can do. By virtue of reputation or maybe be having the particular act that fits the airshow, we get hired. In my case I’m doing two acts.

Q – Since it’s called the Jim Parker Airshows, does that mean you have other people performing under your name in other cities?
A – No. I do actually two different things. I’m a performer and a producer. I’ve produced over 45 airshows in the last 25 years. But, I’ve been a performer for 34 years. So, it’s a little of each. So, I’m known in the industry for doing both.

Q – Do you only perform in the U.S.?
A – No. I’ve performed in Italy, Slovenia, all over Canada, of course the United States. I’ll go wherever I’m hired to go. Airshows are a much larger activity in North America than it is in just about anywhere else in the world. Of course, they’re greatly received all over the world, but, there are fewer of them. Plus, there are great pilots in Europe, so they don’t have to necessarily pull Americans over there unless you have something unique to offer.

Q – How many dates do you work a year?
A – I work anywhere between 15-30 dates a year.

Q – Covering what months?
A – May until October.

Q – How many people does it take to get you on the road and up in the air?
A – They’ll will be 4 of us. They’ll be 2 pilots flying airplanes and a ground crew towing the glider and trailer to the airshow.

Q – You’ve also been featured in films. What films would they be?
A – Me, Myself And Irene. Thinner. I’ve done a number of Prudential Insurance commercials, lottery commercials, and things of this nature over the years.

Q – So, you’ve been a pilot your whole life? Have you ever done anything else?
A – I’m a businessman. I guess I would consider myself that first. The flying is important to my life and part of my income, but, I have other activities as well. I have a couple of other businesses.

Q – Related to the airshow business?
A – No. Un-related. I have a business that manufactures vacuum lumber drying machines for the wood-working industry and I have a business that sells, builds, and installs water-treatment equipment for homes and businesses in Vermont.

Q – That is about as far removed from airshows as you can get, isn’t it?
A – Well, airshows as you can see, is a part-time activity. It’s a significant part of my income when it’s there, but, you never know what the industry is going to throw at you. Most people in the airshow industry have other activities. They may have a flight school. I also have an aviation business. That’s my third business which involves the airshows as well. The aviation business-----we sell aerobatic aircraft to the world.

Q – How much practice goes into the airshow work you do?
A – I try to practice 30 minutes to an hour a week. It may not seem like a lot, but, of course I’ve developed my airshow routine. It’s something that’s planned, practiced, and choreographed. We want to do it the best we can so that it’s safe and secondly so the pilots in the audience don’t look up and say-----“God, that was terrible”! You know, the ones that know what’s going on. The average spectator may not appreciate the precision and accuracy-----but, other pilots do. I think you’ll find that most airshow performers try to make their airshow routine entertaining for the pilots as well as the average spectator going to the show. Keep the quality and the safety up.

Q – Just how dangerous is it up there?
A – It’s a dangerous activity for the person in the cockpit. Things happen very fast. You’re moving very fast. Precision is important plus there are High G forces on the pilot. So, you have to be practiced and stay in reasonably good physical condition and keep it safe. The FAA sets those rules where we can fly safely relative to the crowd, what maneuvers we can do relative to the crowd, so we’re not directing any energy at the crowd so if there was a mistake, there wouldn’t be any possibility of going into the crowd.

Q – Does that mean you’re in the gym working out?
A – Yes. I do yoga twice (a week) and the aerobics three times a week.

Official Website: JimParkerAirshows.com

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