Randy Howell, owner of the Patriots Jet Team, purchased the first three L-39 aircraft from the Ukraine in 1999, with additional jets purchased through 2002. The aircraft were disassembled and shipped to the United States via truck, rail and sea in 40 ft. containers from Europe.
After painstaking restoration by the Patriots team, the L-39 jets were modified for use on the air show circuit with upgraded avionics systems for navigation and communications, removal of excess weight for better air show performance, the addition of a 30-gallon smoke oil system and removal of the previous paint scheme.
Sponsored by Fryâ€™s Electronics and Hot Line Construction, the Patriot L-39s have electrified spectators with fast paced formation flying, choreographed four-ship diamond formation aerobatic maneuvers and the signature â€œTail Slideâ€ where the aircraft actually slides backwards toward the ground, a maneuver unique to the Patriots. Performances are highlighted by a computerized red, white and blue smoke system.
Based in Byron, Calif., near San Francisco, the Patriots Jet Team features former U.S. Air Force Thunderbird, U.S. Navy Blue Angel and Royal Canadian Air Force Snowbird pilots. Team members have more than 80,000 hours of total flight time and have performed in over 1,500 air shows.
The group was founded in 2002 with a mission to entertain air show and special events audiences, while encouraging the nationâ€™s youth towards careers in the aviation and aerospace fields.
The Patriots Jet Team started as a 2-ship formation team and now in their 10th year of operation have expanded to a 6-ship aerobatic formation team flying around the United States.
- Dean â€œWilburâ€ Wright – Team Lead
- Rob â€œStacheâ€ Hutchison – Right Wingman
- John â€œBordzâ€ Posson – Left Wingman
- Paul â€œStickyâ€ Strickland – Slot Pilot
- Rob â€œScratchâ€ Mitchell – Outer Left Wingman
- Scott â€œBankerâ€ Ind – Outer Right Wingman
For more about the Patriots Jet Team, visit www.patriotsjetteam.com.