Author Archives: Sue Baker

Aerobatic Pilot Killed During Night Airshow In Virginia

Aerobatic pilot Jon Thocker was killed in a crash while performing during the Friday night airshow at the 2018 Culpeper Air Fest in Culpeper, Virginia. Jon was the #2 pilot on the Redline Airshows team. The other Redline pilot, Ken Rieder, landed safely shortly after the incident. There is little information on what happened as the performance was flown in the dark.

Jon and Ken, both based in Cincinnati, Ohio, performed formation aerobatics across North America. Each pilot flew a Van’s RV-8 home-built aircraft. They were particularly known for their night time routine, which included sparklers and fireworks launched from the aircraft.

Jon was a former airline captain who retired to focus on building and flying experimental aircraft. The team recently finished building new airplanes with modifications designed to improve their night performances. We here at AirshowStuff were privileged to work with Jon several times in the last few years, and we are tremendously saddened by the loss of a great man.

One such project was this cockpit video from Jon’s aircraft several years ago. Enjoy the ride he was willing to share with us.

Aerobatic Pilot Killed During Night Airshow In Virginia

New Club Will Promote State’s Aviation History

Virginia has a rich aviation history that predates the Civil War. With relocation of the Virginia Aeronautical Historical Society headquarters to Fredericksburg, plans have been made for a Fredericksburg chapter. The inaugural meeting will take place at 9 a.m. November 17, at Shannon Airport KEZF Campus, 3380 Shannon Airport Circle.

The Virginia Aeronautical Historical Society is not just for pilots. It is made up of a broad spectrum of people of all ages and backgrounds who want to see history preserved and promoted.

To pre-register or for more information, call 540/376-3265; or email or visit

Article was posted in the Free Lance Star 10/7/2018


Congratulations to our 2018 Hall of Fame Nominees:

  • Gerald Baliles, Former Governor of Virginia
    In 1986, under Governor Baliles’ leadership, the Virginia General Assembly passed what was until then the largest transportation funding package in Virginia history. While much of the media attention at that time focused on the highway portion of the package, it also included important funding for airports throughout the Commonwealth. … read more
  • Ronald L. Gatewood, Colonel USMC (Retired)
    From 1964 to 1991, Ron Gatewood served in the United States Marine Corps as a Naval aviator, retiring as a Colonel. Following his final assignment at the Pentagon, Ron settled in Warrenton, Virginia, and has remained a resident of Fauquier County for the last 35 years. … read more
  • Evelyn Marshall
    Evelyn Marshall began her career of service on her 20th birthday, when she was sworn into the U.S. Naval Reserves as a Navy Wave in World War II. … read more



Virginia Aviation History Project, Landings

Landings by Norm Crabill

Getting an airplane back on the ground safely and smoothly is a task that requires paying attention to – – everything! Each one is different, and you don’t want to hurt the airplane or scare your passengers.

Over the course of 35 years and 2800 hours of flying, I can remember just TWO perfect landings where I could not tell when the wheels actually touched the runway, and many others that were OK, and some that were NOT SO GOOD!

Like the time I was practicing landing in my Cessna 190 at Gloucester airport with my son Carl in the right seat at different approach speeds – 30% above stall , and then 20% above stall. The Gloucester airport had trees along the left side and a crosswind from that direction. The first one at 30% (standard procedure for light winds) went ok, but the 2nd one at 20% – dropped in from several feet and bounced back with a loud noise into the air nose up. I did a Full power abort and flew back to Patrick Henry and checked the gear for damage . It was ok, but it took awhile for us to get ok too. Evidently, the trees shielded the wind and when we got down to the runway, our 20% speed margin wasn’t enough to handle the no wind condition at the runway., so we STALLED in. Doing that in the 190 was not a good idea, since the all-steel landing gear strut had NO SHOCK ABSORBING capability, and being a tail dragger , the spring load was AHEAD of the airplane CG, resulting in the severe nose-up result.

Another time was landing at the airport near Lake Louise VA, in a severely gusty crosswind in a Cesan182 with a passenger, and I got it on the ground but it felt like the wind was going to raise the tail and fl ip us over on the nose. Another full power abort, and returned to Richmond Airport, where the cross wind was less disturbing. Thank goodness the 182 had a tricycle gear.

Many times I landed at Washington National Airport in a 182 coming over the Pentagon at 300 feet and touched down ON THE NUMBERS for runway 15 just beyond the 10 foot fence, and turned off well before intersecting runway 18 which was busy with traffic. I had told the tower that I would do that, and they let me do it many times. In those days, the GA FBO was at the North end of the fi eld, and it was very convenient not to get inline for all that traffic for 18.

I flew Ercoupes out of the factory in Riverdale MD, which is right next to College Park Airport. Many times the College Park Traffic would be off my right wing a few hundred feet while I was on downwind for landing at ERCO. No problem, we all recognized the situation, and behaved.

And those Ercoupes! They had no ruder pedals, so crosswind landings were NOT done like conventional aircraft with the cross-wind wing banked into the wind and the top rudder used to maintain direction , but in the Ercoupe were done with wings level, turned into the wind., with the projected track straight down the ruway. No problem. One Ercouper told me he did it in a 25 mph direct crosswind. I made many landings in those Ercoupes with my hands IN MY LAP, with no problem. Didn’t even have to flare, since that trailing link main gear had a 12 inch-travel shock absorber . The FBO at the ERCO Field used to land them with his hands straight up out of the canopy to show us how easy it was.

You can’t get that capability in current GA aircraft now.


AN OPEN LETTER TO ALL MEMBERS FROM OUR CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD: On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Virginia Aeronautical Historical Society, I would like to thank you for your continuous support and commitment to our organization.

As we launch our 2018 Fundraiser, we would like to ask you again to help us. Our financial goal this year is $25,000.00.

We are working to create the VAHS Headquarters’ library and archives on the Shannon Airport Campus in Fredericksburg, home of the historic Shannon Air Museum and the new home of our Virginia Aviation Hall of Fame. We are also continuing our efforts to build our scholarship program, which is currently over $225,000, benefiting two deserving Virginia students annually, who wish to pursue an education and career in aviation.

It is only through generous donations such as yours that the VAHS can continue its Mission of preserving aviation history and educating the general public of the many contributions Virginia has made and is making to the development of aviation and aerospace.

Thank you again for your support, it is important and appreciated. If you have comments or questions concerning the Society, its mission and programs, please contact me through the Society’s office.

David L. Young

You may use the form (click here) to send your tax-deductible donation. Mail to: VAHS, P.O. Box 7795, Fredericksburg, VA 22404, or call the office, 540-376-3265.

Come visit us at: The Pilot House, 3381 Shannon Airport Circle, Fredericksburg, VA 22408
Mailing address: VAHS, Shannon Airport KEZF Campus, PO Box 7795, Fredericksburg, VA 22404-7795
Phone number: 540-376-3265 / Email: