Excess awesomeness | VailDaily.com

Excess awesomeness

Greg Shetterly is the patriarch of the Shetterly Squadron. He and sons Jeff and Joe will do the airshow at today's Wings & Wheels at the Eagle County airport.
Shetterly Squadron |

If You Go

What: Wheels & Wings/Vail Automotive Classic

When: 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday

Where: Saturday: Eagle Vail Valley Jet Center at the Eagle County Regional Airport. Sunday: Vail Village, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

Tickets: $20 in advance, $25 at the gate

Information: Purchase tickets online at vailautomotiveclassic.com.

Saturday’s lineup

9 a.m., Event gates open to public

9:45 a.m., Aerobatics Show

11:15 a.m., 2:30 p.m., Auto Auction in Hangar #3

2:30-3 p.m., Car Show Awards Ceremony (27 Awards to be handed out)

GYPSUM — Most dads play catch with their kids. Greg Shetterly did that too, but it’s no coincidence that his son Jeff’s first word was “airklane!”

The Shetterly Squadron is doing the air show at Saturday’s Wings & Wheels show at the Eagle County airport. Just follow the sound of the Great American Symphony that is the well-tuned V-8 engine, and you know you’re there.

Rifle and Radial

The Shetterly Squadron is Greg and Micki and sons Jeff and Joe.

Greg and Micki launched G&M Airshows but it was their son Jeff who showed that aviation could be a business. As a mere lad, Jeff built and sold balsa wood airplanes for 25 cents each. The inevitable repairs cost 10 cents each.

Jeff designed and built radio controlled airplanes, and earned his private pilot license just before heading off to West Point.

In the airshows he flies his 1945 North American T-6, a World War II aircraft he has dubbed Radial Rumble.

Younger brother Joe “Rifle” Shetterly — and we all want a call sign as cool as Rifle — earned his private pilot license at 17 years old, became a flight instructor and served in the U.S. Air Force. He now flies a Boeing 757 for a major airline and an A-10 Warthog for the Air Force Reserves. When he’s not doing that, he’s flying his flashy RV-8 for Rifle Airshows, doing things that defy physics and good sense, but are so much freakin’ fun!

His RV-8 is brilliant polished aluminum. “Lots of polish and elbow grease,” he said.

Citaborea is aerobatic backward

Airshows were Jeff’s idea. He was flying for the Air Force when he called Greg and said, “Dad, you should get your aerobatics license so we can fly together.”

The Shetterly Squadron are third generation pilots. Mom Micki’s dad was the patriarch. He got Greg fired up about it, and as with most things, the sons become the fathers.

“We were lucky enough to learn to fly from our dad,” Joe said.

Greg bought a Citaborea plane, which really is “aerobatic” spelled backwards, and taught his sons to fly in ways that defy most of the laws of physics — at least temporarily.

“We got to turn it upside down as young guys and haven’t stopped,” Joe said.

Jeff let Uncle Randy pilot his plane

This weekend, Jeff is flying his yellow 1945 North American T-6, a Navy trainer.

Because it was built with a serious purpose in mind, there’s still a trigger on the stick — just like in the movies — and a button that would unleash bombs, if we had any.

Speaking of bombs, I expressed regret that I didn’t think to bring water balloons to dive bomb the building where the Vail Daily’s corporate overlords hold court. Jeff chuckled and explained that 1-pound sacks of flour work ever so much better. Because his time is limited, he pointed out I could either dive bomb our corporate overlords, or do figure 8s and barrel rolls. Barrel rolls won.

Brother Joe gave me my safety briefing, which mostly consisted of admonishing me to not touch anything.

Also, if I hear Jeff shout ,“Bail out, bail out, bail out,” I should bail out.

“If you don’t hear him say anything, but you see him jump out, you probably should jump out, too,” Joe said.

Jeff will make his T-6 do stuff that will make you think it’s an eight-cylinder angel.

We pulled 4 Gs, whatever that is. All I know is that when I’m on a diet — and I’m not right now — I weigh somewhere in the neighborhood of 215 pounds. While you’re pulling 4 Gs, you weigh four times that.

You’ll pull those 4 Gs when Jeff is doing barrel rolls or a Cuban 8, which is exactly what it sounds like, for a couple reasons. First, Jeff turns a vertical figure 8 in the sky, and turns on the smoke so you can check your work, since the 8 makes it a math problem.

Also, the 8 in the Cuban 8 is the number of times you holler “woo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo … hooooo!!!”

Jeff even let me fly it, which flies in the face of the safety briefing. It also means his sense of self-preservation could stand to be sharpened. But we didn’t die, and I made machine gun and bomb noises as I pulled the trigger and dropped the imaginary bombs on a local golf course because golfers were rolling balls onto the green, and that would never do.

Excess awesomeness

Before you leave Wheels and Wings, stroll through Hangar 3, where the auto auction starts at 11:15 a.m.

Rich Menkin of Wyoming Auto Auctions has five cars in the auction, among them a vintage Corvette and a Shelby Cobra.

Because both the Cobra and Corvette are the Great American Symphony that are the well-tuned V-8 engine, and because was asked politely, Menkin fired up both.

Those were not tears seeping from the American men’s eyes as they stood reverently nearby, that was excess awesomeness seeping out.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

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