In October of 2018, the future of Redline Airshows was uncertain. With the sudden and tragic passing of Redline Airshow’s co-founder and team member, Jon Thocker, flight-lead Ken Rieder was forced to overcome tragedy and move forward to prepare for the return of Redline Airshows in 2019. Now, having spent the first half of 2019 reorganizing and training Redline Airshow’s new wingman, Shaun Roessner, the team is set to make its 2019 debut at the National Cherry Festival Airshow in Traverse City, Michigan in late June.
Roessner, a former U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet demo pilot and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, joins Redline Airshows after first meeting Rieder at the Vectren Dayton Air Show when the team performed there. Since then, the two have kept in touch and Roessner had expressed an interest in joining Redline Airshows if the team ever decided to become a three-ship formation.
According to Rieder, the last few months of acclimating Roessner to the RV-8 and Redline’s formation flying maneuvers has been very smooth.
“[Roessner] is a natural at it. He’s an aviator…not necessarily just a pilot, because there is a difference between the two. So, to work him into the formation stuff, it really wasn’t that complicated for me to take him all the way through it and his confidence came up pretty quickly once he understood what the standards needed to be. He got a feel for the airplane, too, because he is used to having all kinds of power and braking at his fingertips,” Rieder said. “He is a blast to fly with, a great personality and the type of guy you want to hang out with at the bar later that night.”
While Roessner’s addition to the team has brought a smooth transition and much excitement for the 2019 return of Redline Airshows, Rieder recognizes the indelible mark that Jon Thocker left on the team. From running the company together to building the custom RV-8 aircraft to developing the team’s maneuvers, Rieder and Thocker played to each other’s strengths in creating Redline Airshows.
“With Jon and I, the partnership was really deep because we were such good friends. I spent a lot of time with him and we discussed — and argued — and triumphed as brothers going through this,” Rieder said. “For our roles, I was more the guy booking the shows, getting the paperwork organized, and getting the sponsors. Jon was the guy finding the engine parts and suppliers for this and that. We both built our airplanes, but he was very good at the electronic side of it; that’s the heart of any airplane really.”
Following Redline’s debut in Traverse City, the team will go on to complete approximately a dozen air show performances during the second half of the show season with stops at the Battle Creek Field of Flight Air Show & Balloon Festival, EAA AirVenture and the NAS Pensacola Blue Angels Homecoming Air Show. To see the team’s complete 2019 schedule, visit the ICAS Air Show Calendar at www.airshows.aero/Page/ASCalendar.