Rick Volker came up through the US aerobatic contests category, dominating the highest level of competition, flying Pitts and Sukhoi aircrafts. He has been seriously involved in fitness sports such as swimming, bodybuilding, speed skating, and cross-country ski racing. He’s an aerobatic competency evaluator for the air show industry and… a dentist! He spend about 10 hours a week with his aircraft (flying and maintenance), and about 26 hours a week at his dental office. As he’ll performed during Aero Gatineau-Ottawa, we asked him some questions:
What drives you to fly in air shows?
I enjoy pushing my body and mind to find new limits above what other people accept as possible. I love speed and have a history of racing everything that moves. This type of flying is violent and demands perfect concentration. Unlimited aerobatics provides a physical outlet similar to a strenuous athletic event.
What type of plane do you fly?
I fly the Sukhoi 26M, built in Russia, which has been the most dominant aircraft in World Aerobatic competition for the last 30 years.
What makes the Sukhoi 26M so special?
It is known as the strongest aerobatic design ever created. It employs a radial engine developing almost 400 hp. and has design limits that are higher than the average human body can withstand. If the pilot can think it, the plane can do it. The Sukhoi is built mostly of exotic materials such as carbon fiber and titanium. This is the only Sukhoi 26M flying in air shows in North America. The huge propeller and fat wing shape provide flight characteristics unavailable in other designs. The pilot can use the forces created by the propeller to do maneuvers that seem to violate the laws of physics. At zero airspeed, the propeller and engine produce a 1:1 thrust-to-weight ratio, allowing the aircraft to hover.
What is your background?
I had never flown until I went to an air show 25 years ago. I left with the goal of becoming an air show performer. I started flight lessons and followed a focused path to the top of aerobatic competition, known as the best preparation for creating innovative air show displays. I found experts to advise me along the way.
What does it take to fly like Rick Volker?
It takes good general fitness, superior 3D problem solving skills, and a belief that you can do anything that anyone else can do. It also takes the desire to do some things that no one else can. I draw on my need for speed and the aviation technologies that allow my mind to convert thought into movement without distortion or distraction. I am not limited by traditions. The love of experimentation drives me.
How often do you practice?
I fly almost every day. I work on my fitness every day. I formulate plans and follow them. I relish competition and critique.
What can kids learn from you?
If you have a dream, find experts to help you figure out a roadmap for your path to that goal. Do not listen to naysayers and doubters. If another person can do something, so can you. If you have a big dream, break it down into smaller pieces and attain it in small steps. Keep working at it. There is always a way.
Rick Volker will perform on August 13 and on September 7 and 8.
Get your tickets now! http://aerogatineauottawa.com/tickets/