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GEICO Skytypers Air Show Team Returning to AirVenture
April 16, 2020 - The GEICO Skytypers Air Show Team, composed of six World War II-era North American SNJ-2 aircraft, will be returning to Oshkosh this summer to perform at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2020, scheduled for July 20-26.
Larry Arken, who is the owner and commanding officer/flight lead of the team, said he and the team are thrilled to perform at AirVenture this summer, where the Skytypers last performed in 2018, and are especially excited to honor the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII.
"We're really excited about Oshkosh," Larry said. "We're going to be promoting the anniversary of the end of World War II, as well as the veterans who took part in and many cases gave their lives for their country. My dad was a pilot during WWII and he arrived at Pearl Harbor the day after it was bombed. He was part of that Greatest Generation. Most of the pilots I fly with, their dads were in the service during that time. It's going to be something we work hard on promoting this year, because we've always been so proud of what our WWII vets did for our country."
The North American SNJ-2, which was the U.S. Navy designation for the T-6 Texan, is an advanced trainer that served as a transitional aircraft for WWII pilots as they moved from basic trainers on their way to tactical fighter aircraft. The SNJ-2 is powered by a 600-hp Pratt & Whitney R-1340-AN-1, nine-cylinder radial engine.
"I never get tired of flying the SNJ/T-6 series," Larry said. "It's such a fun, responsive airplane. It's like sitting on a Harley-Davidson because it has that big, loud radial engine up front that just feels powerful. It's just a blast to fly. It's a great formation airplane. There's a reason it was an advanced fighter trainer for the military. It's a very predictable aerobatic airplane, it's a great formation flying platform, and it's a straightforward tailwheel airplane. It will bite you if you don't respect it, but it's a big, loving bear if you fly it the way you're supposed to fly it."
Along with their low-level, six-ship performances, the team also "sky-types" messages in the sky at high altitudes further away from the box. The Skytypers are composed primarily of former military pilots and those Larry simply calls "aviators."
"Most of our pilots are former military, and the ones that aren't are what I like to call 'aviators,'" Larry explained. "They're not just pilots. Pilots are people who get certificates and just fly airplanes. Aviators are people that live and breathe aviation and will fly anything they can fly. My guys do this as a labor of love. It's great to go out there and wear the suit and show off the airplanes and represent GEICO, but they do it because they love the airplane, they love the camaraderie of the team, and they love all the things we do with the business to promote aviation."