If you asked who’s afraid of flying, Tom Larkin would be one to raise his hand. “But I got over it,” he would then clarify.
As a kid, Larkin saw a BD-5J fly at an air show in Florida and was hooked. Through his childhood, he attended multiple air shows which further motivated him to become a pilot. After earning his private pilot license during college, in only 62 days, Larkin went on to join the Air Force, where he flew the T-38 and F-15C. After multiple military tours in the Gulf, he went on to an airline career, but was furloughed just two years after he started. Not to be dissuaded, Larkin kept at it and is still an airline pilot today.
Trying his hand at aerobatics during his airline furlough, Larkin flew competitions in multiple aircraft including a Christian Eagle, Panzl, Staudacher, and others. When he came across his current SubSonex Jet, he knew he had found the perfect fit in being able to continue flying aerobatics, but in a jet aircraft.
Earning his surface level waver last year, Larkin performed in fifteen shows in 2019, and is set to fly as many, if not more, in 2020. Branded as “Mini Jet Air Shows,” his performance showcases the abilities of the Subsonex Jet to remain in a small space and spend most of the time in front of the crowd, right where Larkin wants to be. He strives to park the jet as close to the crowd line as possible, in order to give audience members an opportunity to see him up close. “The closer we can get to the kids and the crowd and the more we can interact with them, in my mind, that’s what we are there for,” Larkin said.
As an educational component, Larkin spends time visiting local schools and organizations at show sites, coaching students on his message of overcoming fear. In his case, it was the fear of flying. He stated, “It’s my time to be the motivator, and give back.”
Larkin has certainly proved that his early fear has been conquered.