Patriots Jet Team

Dedication, Precision and Dynamic are words that come to mind when watching the spectacular aerobatics performed by this awe-inspiring six-ship Patriots Jet Team As one of the most demanding disciplines, and fascinating sights, aerobatic flying is a concentrated blend of technique, mastery and style which requires professional and highly experienced pilots. The Patriots perform a 26-minute aerobatic routine that consists of highly-skilled choreographed maneuvers including the signature maneuver the “Tail Slide”!

First debuting in 2003 as a two-ship team, the 2004 season saw the addition of a third aircraft creating even more fun and excitement at air shows. With the success of the 2005 season, the Patriots Jet Team added a fourth jet for the 2006 season. Finally, in 2011 with the introduction of two more beautiful black L-39s, Randy Howell’s vision of a world-class, professional six-ship team for the air show circuit became a reality!

The Patriots Jet Team features talented pilots who were formerly part of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, U.S. Navy Blue Angels and Royal Canadian Air Force Snowbirds. They have logged over 105,000 hours of flight time and performed in more than 1500 air shows. The volunteer pilots all share the same, genuine passion to entertain audiences at air shows and other events, while encouraging the nation’s youth towards careers in the aviation and aerospace fields.

A breathtaking sight without a doubt! The Patriots Jet Team, unique in its kind represents an all-encompassing blend of passion, inspiration, integrity and professionalism captivating audiences from all over North America with their exhilarating aerobatic performances. You won’t want to miss them at the 2016 Jacqueline Cochran Air Show!

Bill Braack - Smoke-n-Thunder

Out on the taxiway you can hear the deafening roar of an engine and see billowing clouds of smoke. You can feel the reverberations of mini sonic booms. You look up and realize it’s not an aircraft. In front of you is the Smoke-n-Thunder Jet Car preparing to accelerate. Before beginning his show, Bill Braack, driver, slowly drives past the crowd. He engages the afterburner which shoots 20-foot flames, produces billowing smoke and mini sonic booms. At the end of the runway, the jet car comes to a standstill. An airplane above has challenged Bill to a race. Jaws drop as the aircraft approaches. He kicks in the afterburner and accelerates the jet car—he’s races at a speed approaching 400 mph and overtakes the overtakes the plane in seconds. Bill is pulling 4.5 Gs. As he deploys the parachute to bring the car to a stop, he experiences 11 Gs of negative force.


Born and raised in California, Vicky Benzing is an accomplished pilot, skydiver, aerobatic performer, and air racer.  With more than 7000 hours of flight time and over 1200 parachute jumps, Vicky has a passion for everything airborne.  Her flying career has spanned over thirty years and she currently holds an airline transport pilot rating as well as a commercial rating in helicopters, seaplanes, and gliders. 
In 2005, Vicky began training with air show legend, Wayne Handley.  Competing in aerobatic contests throughout the us, Vicky won first place in the intermediate category in both the northwest and southwest regional championships in 2006. Two years later she placed in the top 10 finishers at the US national aerobatic championships in the advanced category.  In between flying in aerobatic contests Vicky began performing in air shows.  Today she focuses her energy on flying airshows.  Vicky holds a surface level waiver and a formation card, and has flown well over 150 air show performances at venues across the us, including performing at the largest airshow in the world, EAA Airventure in Oshkosh, WI. 
In 2010 Vicky began racing in the national championship air races in Reno, NV and was chosen “rookie of the year” after winning her first race ever.  In 2014 Vicky brought home the first place sport silver and bronze jet trophies.  Last September, Vicky made history as the “fastest woman” racer ever in the history of the Reno air races when she qualified a one-of-a-kind l-139 jet on the race course at 469.831 mph.
In addition to her aviation pursuits Vicky holds a PHD in physical chemistry from UC Berkeley and has had a successful career in the Silicon Valley high tech industry.  Vicky is currently vice president of the sport class air racing association and is on the board of directors of the hiller aviation museum in San Carlos, ca. 

Vicky is proudly sponsored by the Apecs aerospace corporation, an engineering consulting firm that specializes in providing support to aviation maintenance repair organizations and by the California aeronautical university, a world-class aeronautical training center offering aviation-related degree programs to students from around the world.

Other sponsors include Accuwright, specialists in precision flame spray coatings, Oregon aero, makers of seating systems and helmet and headset upgrades, and ASL Camguard, creators of advanced engine oil supplements to reduce engine wear.


John Collver

With an aviation career spanning more than 3 decades and over 14,000 hours of flight time, John Collver joins the Jacqeline Cochran Air Show. His career includes time in the Goodyear Blimp, flying for TV, as well as teaching and competing in aerobatic arenas. Collver brings expertise and skill that will entertain all ages.


Kent Pietsch

Amazes crowds with his acts that most airshow viewers don’t expect to see. Pietsch will perform a dead-stick (turning the engine off) from 6,000 feet and a rooftop landing on a moving RV! He also brings the humor and is best known for his comedy act that features a detached aileron (wing flap) and wingtip scraping pass by down the runway!


Jon Melby

Performing in his modified Pitts S-1-11B bi-plane, Jon Melby joins the Jacqueline Cochran Air Show. Melby is known for his extreme freestyle aerobatics at Air Shows and hopes to encourage adults and children to pursue their dreams.


Jacquie b

When most people turn 50, they figure it's time to relax and settle into neutral while coasting toward retirement. Not Jacque B!  When Jacquie turned 50, she launched her solo aerobatic career with her one-of-a-kind Pitts Special biplane.  During the centennial celebration of powered flight in 2003, Jacquie finally quit the humdrum of a white collar profession and realized her dream as an air show performer, becoming the first female pilot to enter this business at the age of 50.

Jacquie traces her love of flying to her earliest days, when, as a newborn, her first outing was to the Los Angeles County Air Show.  Her pilot-father's interest in airplanes and flying inspired Jacquie to dream of flying.  Jacquie spent many years dreaming of flying but was unable to do much about it until years later after working and saving her money.  By the time she was 32, she was tired of hearing herself say, "I wish I could fly an airplane.  I knew I would just die if I didn't fly an airplane."  So she enrolled in ground school and the rest his history, as they say.




AVIATION IS A CRITICAL PART OF AMERICA’S HISTORY AND ITS FUTURE.  The team is committed to inspiring youth and promoting aviation by safely demonstrating essential skills developed by our military for use in operations around the world and to passing those skills onto the next generation of aviators. This reflects the philosophy of our sponsor Allegiant Air, “to promote safety through discipline, attention to detail and constantly striving to improve.”  Nothing good is ever easy and to be the best requires constant effort.

The Red Eagles fly the Russian designed YAK-52 aircraft.  This was the basic trainer for Soviet forces.  It is rugged, reliable and relatively straightforward to operate.  This aircraft is powered by a 360 HP 9 cylinder radial engine (the Vendeneyev M-14P).  Fuel consumption is relatively modest (12.5 – 19 gallons per hour).  This rugged performer is stressed to +7 to -5 Gs and can easily operate out of unprepared fields.  The “green-house” canopy provides excellent visibility and the tandem seating features dual controls.  When used in the training environment, the instructor occupies the rear cockpit.  The aircraft that you see today have been modified with smoke systems to enhance the performance for spectators.