Mike "Bloke" Robinson - the Supervisor of Flying for the Starfighters - and I go back a few years. It turns out that Bloke was one of the links in a long and unlikely chain of events that culminated in my getting the Thunderbirds ride in 2008. Bloke happened to be confirming some details with the Battle Creek show's director and mentioned that he had heard her on Airspeed in the preceding week. That apparently stick my name in her head at just the time at which the show was thinking about who might be a good alternate Thunderbirds rider. And the rest is history.

Bloke and I connected recently at ICAS in December and he was nice enough to invite me down to spend parts of the TICO Valiant Air Command airshow in Titusville, Florida in March. I spent Friday and Saturday on the ramp with The Starfighters, Heavy Metal, Scooter Yoak, Mark Sorenson, David Allen, and others.

When I could get Bloke to hold still for a few minutes (he's an amazingly busy guy during a show, as you might imagine), he was gracious enough to do it in perfect light next to a gorgeous F-104 in front of a couple of cameras. We talked about the F-104 and his impressions of it and even went a little into acro and energy management for use in the Acro Camp movie.

Here's the interview, along with other images from the two days at TICO.

The Starfighters use the F-104 Starfighter for suborbital flight training, flight test, threat simulation, photo chase, and - of course - airshows. The team is based at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. More information is available at starfighters.net.

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