Rifle is also hitting the airshow circuit this year in his beautiful Vans RV-8 so be sure to check out his website http://rifleairshows.com/ and his schedule so you can see him fly
Rifle, what got you into flying and how old were you?
Well, I think my first flight, I was two years old and I think it was in a Cessna 120 that my family, my parents owned or maybe a Cessna 172 that my grandfather was flying. Since then think I started formal training when I was 15. So it's just been a family deal. I basically got all of the solo and my pilot’s license at my earliest opportunity so I soloed on my 16th birthday and I got my license a year later.
Cool. Why did you join the Air Force instead of the Navy, the Marine Corps or the Army?
Well, that's an interesting answer as well. I actually enlisted in the Army first. The goofy answer is that when I got back from my advanced training for the Army for my new job I went back to school at the University of Kansas and because of the training dates, when I got back I missed the deadline for the Army ROTC scholarship application, but the Air Force I still had three days left so I applied for that and I ended up in Air Force.
Cool. I saw your biography at the Air Combat Command website and it said that you were an expert marksman in pistols and rifles. Is that where you're call sign came from?
There's a piece of the story behind my call sign that does come from my being in the Army and shooting the rifles. The other part of it is some flying what we call buffoonery as a young wingman. You’ve probably ask guys before about the call sign is that true? Have you gotten some creative stories?
Yeah, I get some pretty interesting ones!
The funny thing about a call sign is that you don't pick your own. Generally it's your buddies picking your call sign for you. Usually there's a good story about something silly or goofy that you did that earned you that call sign for your mistake or for some funny thing. So there's some of that story that goes along with my call sign.
How do you like flying the A-10? It looks like it flies more like a stunt plane then an attack plane.
Well, that's an interesting question because part of what makes a stunt plane or in aerobatic plane or an aerobatic demonstration exciting is the same stuff that makes surface attack or makes an airplane good at surface attack. What I'm talking about is low altitude turn capability and maneuverability. So if you look at The Mighty Hog, it’s got a long straight wing with a very semi-symmetrical airfoil and drooped wingtips and what that equates into is low altitude maneuverability.
Right, because that's what it's made for. How do you like performing with the demo team at air shows? You must be really different from flying combat
Yeah I really do like performing at air shows and like I told you I think it's very similar to what you’ve gotten to see in the last few years. I grew up going to airshows and dreaming about being in airshow pilot. So my aviation experience is multifaceted in that I grew up loving airplanes anyway and to get to fly professionally is really an honor and a privilege but at the end of the day I just love flying airplanes. So, if it's flying combat and serving my country that's great, and if it's just going upside down because I want to and its fun, then that’s great to.
Yeah! When you were flying combat missions it must feel really cool zooming in to protect the good guys and shoot the bad guys. Can you share some cool combat flying stories with me?
Well you know the specifics of the stuff that I was doing in combat is still technically classified as far as who was where on what day and what we were doing and what I will tell you is that you're absolutely right there is a unparalleled job satisfaction that comes from being able to help someone else who's in trouble. So that's a piece of my job that I really love. So when a guy calls me on the radio and basically says help, and you know when the dust settles, that guy gets to walk away and the bad guy might not. Then I get to go back to the base and say, you know what someone that was on the ground doing some serious work for our country gets to go out and do it again the next day.
Can you share some cool airshow flying stories with me?
I don’t even know where to begin. You know I think one of the neatest things I did was last weekend I flew at St. Joseph Missouri and that's maybe 45 minutes from where I grew up in Kansas City, in that area. My best buddy from junior high and high school was there so it was pretty for me when I put the landing gear down and did the slow pass, I’m talking to the radio and got to make a shout out to my best friend, so that was really cool.
Well, is there anything else you'd like to add?
Yeah, if anybody that's sees this video or listens this on the Flightline Internet Radio and wants to come out to an air show and check out the A-10 and then come find me and we'll show it to them. You can also now check us out on Facebook and Twitter and then also just Google the aerial event's website from the Air Combat Command. We'd love to see anybody come out and come find me and we'll show them airplane.
I'm sure people will! Well, thank you Joe!
You’re welcome, thanks Evan.
I had a great time interviewing you!
Awesome thanks bud!
Here's the video of the interview http://www.vimeo.com/12071142