Sunday, September 1, 2013

Alberta's Team Rocket

One of North America's premier aerobatic teams is from right here in Alberta!

photo by Ray Courtman
Team Rocket pilots fliy the Harmon Rocket monoplane, an all metal home built monoplane based on the popular Van's Aircraft RV-4. The aircraft's lightweight and huge power gives it tremendous performance on the airshow stage.

To manage these two mighty mites of the air, I introduce to you Ken Fowler and Eric Hansen.  Ken grew up in BC, and joined Canada's military at an early age.  He toured North American airshows as a crew member for the big yellow DHC-5 Buffalo aircraft. I think it was then when he got hooked on airshows and airshow performing.  He is now airport manager at the Rocky Mountain House Airport and one of the pilots of Team Rocket.

Eric Hansen grew up in an aviation family and got his pilot's license at a very early age. He now is a flight instructor in his hometown of Cold Lake, Alberta. He is also a dentist there, and he is the other half of Team Rocket.

Ken and Eric perform very close together and very fast. Many of their maneuvers have them going head-to-head, crossing at airshow center stage!  This, by the way, includes their takeoff, when they begin their takeoff roll from either end of the runway!

Both Rockets look very similar in the sky but up close there are many differences inside and out. The easiest way to tell them apart is that Eric's aircraft has its rudder on the vertical stabilizer [tail] painted in a checkerboard pattern while Ken's aircraft's rudder has the logo of Rocky Mountain House emblazoned on it.

Probably one of the most spectacular performances Ken and Eric do is their night pyro show!  Picture two aircraft performing perfect synchronized aerobatic maneuvers at night with fireworks shooting out from racks mounted under the wings!   To my knowledge this is the only dual nighttime aerobatic show in existence.

As Albertans we all have to be proud of this home-grown talent.  Don't miss a chance to see them fly!

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