John ‘FLIPPER’ Flippen – Beechcraft T-34

John Flippen, Lead Pilot for San Diego Salute was born in Fort Smith, Arkansas and now resides in Bonita, CA with his wife, Mary Lou, and four kids, Paul, Hannah, Blake and Parker. They all love to fly.

John served in the United States Navy from 1984-1990. He served onboard US navy Warships in the Persian Gulf as an Electronic Warfare Specialist Petty Officer 1st Class. He saw action aboard DDG-15, The USS Berkeley, and FFG-3, The USS Schofield. After his tour in the Navy John started working at Qualcomm INC in San Diego where he retired after 25 years through an incredible growth period in the wireless telecom industry.

He started flying at Navy North Island Flying Club in 1996 and received his Private Pilot Certificate in 1997. He quickly migrated to the T-34’s at the Navy Flying club and became enamored with flying formation. In 2003 he received his FAST Card allowing him to fly formation in airshows and now holds a LEAD FAST card. He is also an instructor with a Commercial Certificate, teaching others the art of Formation Flying.

He owns a 1955 Beechcraft T-34A Mentor that he purchased in 2003. He keeps his plane at the Gillespie Airport in El Cajon, California. John was born to fly. His dad and uncles were pilots as well as his older brother, Danny, who often flies in airshows. He has accumulated over 2,000 hours of total time and over 1200 hours in his T-34 nicknamed “Ole Yeller”.

Todd ‘BANGER’ Bohlman – Yakovlev Yak-52

Todd Bohlman is originally from Lodi, Wisconsin and has lived in San Diego since 1979. He works as an Engineering Manager at a local Aerospace firm. With over 2000 hours of tailwheel time, Todd enjoys the challenges of landing at remote strips all over San Diego County’s varied landscape. He bought his Yak 52 two years ago and immediately started learning to fly in formation.

Larry Bierma – Beechcraft T-34

Larry has lived in San Diego since 1971. He started flying in 1993, and is a commercial instrument rated pilot as well as a certified A&P mechanic. His T-34 was delivered to the Air Force in 1955 and served as a primary trainer at Tinker Air Force Base until 1961. Larry acquired the plane 2004 and has been flying formation since 2005.

Dr. Curtiss ‘TATER’ Stinis – Nanchang Super CJ-6

George Watson – Beechcraft T-34

George Watson, a former Army Drill Sergeant and retired Army First Sergeant, has been flying the T-34 for more than 20 years. Has more than 3000 hours of flight time with 1500 in the Mentor. George flies for the Civil Air Patrol, and manages two of the San Diego County airports (Ramona and Fallbrook). He is past president of the San Diego Chapter Tuskegee Airmen.

Mike Rierdon – Beechcraft T-34

John ‘OBI JUAN’ Knolla – Yakovlev Yak-52

John Knolla is Director of Product Support Engineering for LMI Aerospace-Engineering Services in San Diego. He had his first airplane ride in a Cessna 172 at the age of 3, travelling from Jefferson City, MO (KJEF) to Joplin, MO (KJLN). During this fateful flight the pilot who had been chartered to fly him, his Mother and 6-month old little brother asked if he would like to fly the plane, and his world has never been the same since.

Born with a club foot, after multiple corrective surgery attempts, he had his right foot amputated at the age of 12. John qualified for a Statement of Demonstrated Ability (SODA) Waiver that allows him to fly aircraft without limitation and despite his disability he earned and currently holds a Commercial Pilot’s License.

A long time aviation enthusiast, pilot and airshow fan, John has flight time in over 40 different make/model aircraft including many popular light and experimental aircraft and, for the past few yeas, his desert camouflage 1987 Yakovlev Yak-52 that he calls ‘Red Six’. John flies ‘Red Six’ in aerobatics as well as formation flights and has previously volunteered his time and airplane supporting the EAA Young Eagles program giving children between the ages of 8 and 17 their first introduction to the freedom of flight.