Stage in the sky

By Marlena Hartz : Freedom Newspapers

Flying an airplane is a demanding sport, if your name is Tim Weber.

The Phoenix resident peddled his bicycle to a nearby flight school as a teenager and traded manual labor for flying lessons. Today, he is one of a small group of aerobatics pilots who earn a living by doing tricks in the sky.

In flight, he has pulled an array of muscles, endured numerous neck injuries and detached his shoulder from its socket. During his aerobatics routines, sweat pours down his face, and he sheds three to four pounds in water weight, he said.

“The type of flying I do is physically demanding and violent,” said Weber, whose aircraft of choice is an Extra 300, a German-built plane he flies at speeds of 250 miles per hour.

“You feel like a bug in the jar and someone is shaking the jar.”

Weber will fly Saturday in the Thunderbirds Air Show at Cannon Air Force Base. It will the fourth time he has flown in the Cannon air show in the past 11 years, he said. The pilot generally performs in 18 to 20 air shows around the country in the span of one year and has logged thousands of flight hours.

But Clovis airspace is some of the most demanding Weber has ever flown in, he said. The high elevation and strong winds make controlling the plane more difficult, he said.
Weber choreographs his aerobatics to rock ’n’ roll music he writes himself.

“I do everything you don’t expect an airplane to do,” he said. “I go backwards, sit in one in place like a helicopter, fly sideways.”

The Extra 300 that Weber flies can roll more than 340 degrees per second. According to Weber, “it is the best flying airplane around.”

For Weber, who admired airplanes as a boy from afar, the most gratifying part of being a pilot is instilling in children they can do the same.

“You need to be able to tell kids they can do anything they want to do. That is a neat message to deliver,” he said.