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Nate Hammond to Receive 2023 Bill Barber Award for Showmanship


July, 2023 — World Airshow News magazine has announced that Nathan K. Hammond is the 2023 recipient of the Bill Barber Award for Showmanship. One of the most prestigious awards in the air show industry, the list of Barber honorees reads like an air show hall of fame.

In less than 10 years as an air show performer, Nathan “Nate” Hammond has established himself as one of the most creative and innovative performers on the air show circuit. His popular night air show features wing-mounted pyrotechnics and bright LED lights, and he was instrumental in the development of innovative theme acts such as Adventures of Aviore, which was featured at EAA.

Nate’s path to becoming an air show star began in upstate New York where his father was a pilot for the air show at the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome. He took his first airplane ride at just 2 weeks old, riding in his mother’s lap. When the family moved to Kentucky in the early 1990s, his dad became the crew chief and ferry pilot for Steve Oliver and Suzanne Asbury-Oliver of Pepsi SkyDancer and Pepsi SkyWriter fame. Nate quickly became a 12-year-old ramp rat, helping his dad, Steve, and Suzanne any way that he could.

Nate soloed at age 16, and by age 18, he had earned his commercial pilot certificate. A few years later, he took over from his dad as Steve Oliver’s crew chief and ferry pilot for the SkyDancer, a highly modified Super Chipmunk. As his experience grew, Steve suggested that Nate learn how to skywrite and start working on getting his low-level aerobatic card in the Chipmunk. Steve wanted the show to be able to go on even if he got sick or couldn’t fly for some reason. Nate’s first skywriting assignment was over the Atlanta Motor Speedway with 100,000 spectators and a national television audience looking on. When the Olivers retired from air shows in 2016, Nate took over full control of the SkyDancer, renaming it GhostWriter.

In addition to flying his day and night air show routines, Nate has also been a driving force behind the Black Flag air show training camps, which began in 2020 during the COVID-19 lockdowns as a way for aerobatic pilots to stay sharp. Black Flag has since become an annual event, helping experienced aerobatic pilots stay sharp and providing a pathway for new air show pilots to get coaching and mentoring to improve their proficiency and advance their air show careers.

The Bill Barber Award for Showmanship began in 1986 and is awarded to air show performers or teams that have demonstrated great skill and showmanship. World Airshow News magazine and the friends and family of the late Bill Barber present the award annually.

The 2023 Bill Barber Award for Showmanship presentation will take place today, Tuesday, July 25, immediately following the air show.

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