Ask anybody in his family and they will tell you Leland has always been looking up at airplanes. With his late mother a flight attendant and his grandfather as airplane obsessed as he, Leland was no stranger to an airshow throughout his youth. Always having dreamt to fly, on Christmas 2005 his parents fulfilled that dream with gift certificates to the local flight school, and two days later he took his first lesson at the age of 13. Leland went on to solo on his 16th birthday and has been flying ever since.
Between flight lessons in his teenage years, Leland continued to develop his passion for aerobatics/formation spending countless hours flying virtual airshows on Microsoft’s Flight Simulator X in a Christen Eagle formation act, emulating the Iron Eagle Aerobatic Team. These virtual shows led him to the opportunity to travel with the Iron Eagles learning the ins and outs of the airshow industry as a teenager, highlighted by attending 2010 EAA Airventure at Oshkosh with the team.
Outside of flying, Leland earned his degree in Audio Engineering & Music Production, with a minor in Marketing, and has established himself as a sound designer for recording studios and artists across the country. Only in his early 30s, Leland is a new-generation performer with a long history and passion for air shows, ready and excited to connect with everyone from the youngest fans to the experienced veterans! Find out more about Leland in his "Have You Met" article in Airshow Digest.
Tom’s journey to being a pilot was inevitable. Growing up in an aviation family, he spent his youth immersed in the world of flight; from watching planes at the local airport to assisting his dad in building kit aircraft. After soloing at 16 he spent the next few years working to save funds, and at the age of 21, he purchased his Pitts S-1S. Wasting no time after buying the Pitts, he competed in his first IAC competition just 3 months later. Now a seasoned competitor, Tom has competed in Primary to Advanced and in 2015 achieved his highest accolade as the Intermediate National Champion.
Though he didn’t travel with the team like Leland, Tom too has a connection to the Iron Eagles. Having ferried many Eagles & Pitts across the country, he was chosen as the ferry pilot to take Iron Eagle 2 to its new home when it was retired from airshows.
Though aerobatics is his passion, Tom's flying career extends beyond biplanes. As an airline captain, he has accumulated over 5000 hours in 50 different types of aircraft, from relaxing sunset cruises in Piper Cubs to safely transporting passengers across the country in jets.
Designed by Frank Christensen to compete with the Pitts Special, the Eagle II is marketed in kit form for homebuilding by Aviat aircraft. It set a new standard for completely documented homebuilding kits that revolutionized the homebuilding industry. The Eagle II is a small aircraft of conventional configuration with single-bay, equal-span staggered biplane wings braced with streamlined flying and landing wires and an I-strut to form a box truss. The pilot and a single passenger sit in tandem underneath a large bubble canopy.