• Interview With Wayne Handley

    Interview With Wayne Handley

    Conducted by Dominic Smith

    Wayne Handley

    When did you know you wanted to be a pilot?

    I was born in 1939 and my first memories are of the aircraft of that era, on training flights over our house. I was enamoured with the military pilots and my imagination went wild with the "box" airplanes I so lovingly built. With those "box" airplanes, I flew on countless missions and courageously fought battles in the sky, but I always came back victorious. So, for as long as I can remember, I have wanted to take to the skies in my very own airplane, a real one, just like those pilots of yesterday, who ignited a passion as they flew over a little boys head!

    What prompted you into becoming an aerobatic pilot?

    I enjoyed aerobatics during my military flight training, but I was not in a financial position to buy my first aerobatic aircraft until I reached the age of 44. That was when I purchased a Pitts Special and started flying in International Aerobatic Club (IAC) competitions. Two years later, in 1985, I was flying in my first air show and by 1989 I had flown my last IAC contest, and began concentrating on my air show sequences.

    How long did it take you to get to the level you are today?

    Aerobatic flying, such as it is, takes a tremendous amount of time and dedication to "perfect." There is no short cut. It has taken until today to reach my present level of competency and even now, I'm always trying to understand and articulate each manoeuvre a little better, so that I might be more effective at passing along the "tricks of the trade" to a younger generation.

    Who has been your source of inspiration throughout the years?

    Leo Loudenslager was "The Man," when I first started out, but I have watched with great interest, all of the top performers. To name but a few; Patty Wagstaff (who I started in competition at the same time, and I always appreciated her rise to the top), Bob Hoover, who has always been my number one role model in so many ways, and Sean Tucker, who has the best work ethic in the air show industry and has built a very effective support team. When it comes to advancing and perfecting new manoeuvres, Rob Holland is the leader of the pack.

    What has been your favorite aircraft and why?

    My favorite plane to fly is usually the one I'm in at the time, but going back in time, the FJ Fury (Navy version of F-86) was a great flying machine. My original Raven and the Extra 300 are both sweethearts, but the one that holds a special place in my heart would have to be the Turbo Raven. Its speed and brute power set it apart from any other civilian aircraft to date.

    What is the hardest manoeuvre you've ever had to perform and why was it so difficult?

    The hardest manoeuvre I have have had to perform was a tumble in my original Raven. Back then, it took me two years to figure out how to tumble the aircraft. I knew it could be done because I had seen a video clip of Patrick Parris tumbling a Cap. His tumble was so perfect that it was like someone had taken a gentle hold of each wingtip and spun him gracefully through the sky, like a falling star. Not understanding the aerodynamics of the manoeuvre cost me a lot of gas in those two years. Now I can teach it in one flight.


    3 Comments
    1. 5171's Avatar
      5171 -
      One of the best interviews to date! So kind of Mr Handley to take the time to give us a wonderful glimpse into his Flying Life and to reveal such wisdom and real character when it comes to his flying career!

      I thought the videos were breath taking! and a nice thing to attach to the interview. Mr Handley certainly can do maneuvers in his Turbo Raven I have never seen before! and did not know were possible.

      Thank you for this great interview!
    1. DominicS's Avatar
      DominicS -
      What a truly wonderful interview!

      To possess the skills to carry out those manoeuvres, under those kind of G forces, and still maintain situational awareness, is a tribute to the exceptional flying skills of Wayne Handley.

      The next time I'm sitting in front of my computer, doing loops and pretending to be Maverick, I'll remember what it takes to do them...for real.

      Many thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.
    1. LowTransition's Avatar
      LowTransition -
      Outstanding interview with one of the best in the biz, a true legend in aerobatic circles! I sincerely hope that folks look outside their simulator's for a moment and take the time to read these fantastic interviews and articles with real aviators and better appreciate the contributions they have made to aviation.

      Again, great interview and please keep 'em coming!
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