Mike Goulian will be putting his specially built single-seat plane through all sorts of precision aerial maneuvers this long Labor Day weekend over Lake Erie as part of the annual Cleveland National Air Show.
The former U.S. National Aerobatic champion does that sort of thing for a living as president of Goulian Aerosports.
And Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. is hoping to boost its aviation tire image as well by co-sponsoring Goulian’s 2012 air show season. You can’t miss the sponsorship: Goulian’s German-built Extra 330SC plane (one of five in the United States and just 20 worldwide) is painted Goodyear blue and gold, with the name Goodyear spread along its wings.
“I’m one of those guys who was lucky enough to solo in an airplane before I was legal to drive a car,” the 43-year-old Goulian said Wednesday at Burke Lakefront Airport, site of this year’s show that opens Saturday. His father founded the family flight school business in 1964, just outside of Boston.
“He wanted me to learn the family business from the ground up, so I started washing airplanes and helping do maintenance and things like that and just fell in love with aviation,” Goulian said.
Just by happenstance, he got interested in aerobatic flying, which involves competition flying as well as show flying, he said.
He did competition flying for about 15 years, then transitioned into the air show business, Goulian said.
“So now I fly about 20 air shows a year all around the United States,” he said.
“My style of flying is very hard and very aggressive and has a style to it,” he said. “When I’m flying, everything is absolutely to its limits.”
Goulian includes what he calls “air show flair” and such things as “end-over-end tumbles and all of those things that these modern airplanes are capable of.”
Each 12-minute performance is tightly choreographed and includes music and narration for the showgoers, Goulian said. His ground crew videotapes each performance as well for subsequent critiques, he said.
The plane, which is specially designed for aerobatics, is tiring to fly, he said.
“It’s like a race car. It’s unstable. What makes it a good aerobatic airplane makes it a bad cross-country airplane,” he said. “I don’t fly it show to show.”
Instead, another pilot flies the plane to each show, he said.
The Goodyear sponsorship helps pay for all of that, Goulian said.
“Goodyear has a huge aviation history,” he said. “We approached Goodyear and said, everybody knows that Goodyear is in the tire business. They have a proud heritage of aviation of over 100 years.”
As Goulian talked with the Akron tire maker, the Goodyear Advantage Tour concept was developed, he said. It involves a “mobile business unit” pulled by a tractor-trailer for business-related gatherings, he said. Co-sponsoring Goulian’s tour is Aviall Services Inc., a Goodyear aviation tire distributor.
“We will host aviation businesses from around the region,” Goulian said. “Basically, what we’re doing is educating them on Goodyear.”
The Goodyear Advantage Tour also promotes the people who work behind the scenes to keep planes flying, he said.
“We’re also creating Goodyear ambassadors,” he said.
Cleveland show for families
This is Goulian’s first time back to the Cleveland air show in 10 years.
“The backdrop is absolutely beautiful,” Goulian said.
But winds off Lake Erie can present challenges for pilots, he said.
“Amongst the circuit of air shows, this really is the pinnacle of what you will find on the weekend,” he said.
The Cleveland show is aimed at families, not “motorheads,” he said.
Besides the flying performances, “there is so much happening on the ground” including historical planes to see and touch, Goulian said. “It doesn’t get much better than that.”
The air show opens 9 a.m. Saturday, Sunday and Monday, with no entry after 3 p.m. at the downtown Cleveland airport.
Ticket prices are $19 for adults ($21 at the gate); $12 ($14 gate) for children 6-11; children 5 and younger are free. Parking is $15.
The weekend will include performances by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, U.S. Coast Guard demonstrations, U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor and lots more. In addition, there will be more than 50 ground displays of aircraft, along with other exhibits.
For a full listing and updates, go online to www.clevelandairshow.com.
Information on Goulian is online at www.mikegoulian.com.
Jim Mackinnon can be reached at 330-996-3544 or firstname.lastname@example.org.