There are two types of family entertainment guaranteed to thrill: Circus’ and Air Shows. So, when you combine the two you’ve got a guaranteed hit on your hands!
Mark Sorenson, creator of Tiger Airshows, has done just that with an airshow acts that draws from the best ‘tricks’ of the circus and aerobatics. He thrills crowds by transforming the famous circus trick where the ‘cat jumps through a ring of fire’ into a 150 mph test of airmanship, nerves and timing. Making his 1 ton cat, in the form of a Bengal tiger-striped YAK-55M, fly aerobatic through large smoke-rings wafting up from the ground.
“I wanted to give the audience not only something to watch, but something that would intrigue them…” Mark Sorenson
New for 2012, Tiger Airshows has added a second Tiger 55M to the family, to form the Twin Tigers Aerobatic Team. Teaming up with Buck Roetman, former member of the Red Eagle Aerobatic Team, they have created an ideal duo in matching airplanes demonstrate the art of precision aerobatics and formation flying.
Once in the cockpit of their aircraft, they become one with the great TITUS & ZEEK Tumbling Tigers, as the canopies are closed. Flying in full bush-gear as if on a safari hunt, they puts on an act that includes all the aerobatic standards every airshow attendee demands to see from anyone flying at show center including Snap-rolls, Loops, Hammer-Heads, Cuban-Eights, slow-flight and steep turns. However, their aerobatic skills are showcased when they throws an extremely difficult maneuver known as the ‘Tiger Tumble’ into the mix. Even the most seasoned of airshow spectators, who’ve seen it all, take notice when this gut-wrenching maneuver takes place in these super-sized monoplanes.
While they perform their aerobatics routine, then the new crowd favorite is also set in motion. Tiger Airshow’s custom smoke-ring generators are placed out on the airfield and fired multiple times to create smoke rings throughout the act. Mark places his aircraft in position as the first black ring starts to rise up from the ground. Racing toward it before it begins to dissipate, he slices through the center as yet another rings begins to form. Then it’s Bucks turn as they compete with each other to see who can get the most rings. Each of them quickly reposition as ‘The Ringmaster’ begins to make the next batch of rings. Should they do a loop or a hard turn to get back over there, they must ask themselves? No matter how they do it, They’re watching those rings rise up at the same time the tension is rising with the crowd. Who will get the next one?
Sorenson reflects on incorporated the smoke rings into his act. “I wanted to give the audience not only something to watch, but something that would intrigue them and make them actually get involved during my show. Zipping by doing 8-point aileron rolls is great, but people want to see something new and different. I found that I could make these smoke rings and stay out of the ‘high explosives’ category because of how they are made with compressed air. This creates a level of excitement not seen in any other airshow act out there. No smoke ring is usually the same, and I’ve got multiple rings rising up at the same time, it’s very challenging to put my airplane through all of them and make it look good.” He adds, “Although it may be a great challenge and is impressive to the crowds, I never compromise my safety or the safety of those on the ground.”
Back on the ground and taxing along the crowd line as they prepare to park, the canopies open and you can see the bush hats and safari-style shirts. In between those two costume pieces tailored to fit his ‘act’ is a broad grin of a team who loves what they do. They know they’ve just inspired lots of people. Whether its inspired them toward aviation…or the circus is to be determined. Either way, they’re clearly having fun and I suspect you will too!