T-33 Shooting Star pilot headlines 2015 Truckee Tahoe AirShow
Special to the Sun
TRUCKEE, Calif. — Gregory “Wired” Colyer pilots one of the most iconic American jets — the Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star.
His energetic and entertaining performance at the upcoming airshow will honor the legacy of all pilots who flew the two seat Korean War era trainer and its single seat combat cousin the F-80 Shooting Star.
Regular followers of air shows may notice a trend. Most, if not all, air show performers owe a debt to their parents for introducing them early to the aviation world.
Colyer is no different, having started flying when he was very young. From his first flight at age seven, he earned his private pilot’s license at age 18 and has since achieved multiple ratings.
He now holds a Commercial Pilot certificate with instrument, single, and multi engine ratings, one of the highest levels attainable.
Colyer is also certified to fly three classic jet warbirds — the L-29 Delfin, the L-39 Albatros, and of course his favorite the T-33 Shooting Star.
The Shooting Stars
In the late days of World War II and the beginning of the jet age, the legendary Lockheed Skunk Works and Clarence “Kelly” Johnson developed a new class of jet fighter known as the P-80 Shooting Star.
Later, it was named the F-80 by the U.S. Air Force. It took Lockheed just 203 days, from commission to first flight, to launch a new generation.
Along with the F-80 fighter, the two-seat trainer version was developed in 1948 and called the T-33 Shooting Star. This was the first of many trainer aircraft to be labeled “T-Bird.”
The family of Shooting Stars became the United States’ first successful turbojet-powered combat aircraft.
With a total of over eight thousand manufactured in the late 1940s and early 1950’s, they saw extensive service in the Korean war.
The first jet-vs-jet aerial combat took place in an area of Korea known as “MiG Alley” between a Shooting Star and a MiG-15.
Lt. Russell Brown piloting his Shooting Star from the 16th Fighter Squadron fired .50 caliber rounds into one of two attacking MiG’s until it exploded.
It was the first of 827 MiGs to be shot down in Korea.
Do What You Love, and You Will Grow
After many years of service in the U.S. Army, Colyer joined the FAA and became an air traffic controller in Oakland, Calif.
While at “Oakland Center,” as it is called, he directed the safe movement of commercial and private aircraft throughout Northern California, including the busy 3-airport San Francisco area.
He has managed every imaginable circumstance, from normal traffic through to the highly unusual emergencies, including those of Sept. 11, 2001.
On his time off, he began flying air shows to honor the jet’s history. He also created and runs a non-profit organization supporting the preservation of the T-33 called the T-33 Heritage Foundation.
Colyer became so passionate about this aircraft that he decided to double his investment with a second jet.
He now performs with two jets at airshows across the country, one that travels the Eastern US, and one the West.
Now retired from air traffic control, Colyer dedicates his time to airshows, preserving the T-33, and educating the public about this historic aircraft.
While not traveling, he maintains his full-throttle energy with long-distance cycling, and has even participated in several Ironman Triathlons across the world.
Get ‘Wired’ in
Colyer’s call sign is “Wired,” and his fighter-pilot helmet is decked out in an energetic burst of lightning.
“I got that call sign in part because of my high energy and also because whenever somebody needed something, I could find it for them,” he said. “I had become known as the most wired-in pilot in the community.”
The Truckee Tahoe AirShow & Family Festival is proud to offer this opportunity for families to meet and be inspired by this energetic pilot and his historic jet, witness aerobatic flying, peruse static displays and meet leaders in the aviation community.
Gates open at 9 a.m. and close at 4 p.m. on Saturday, July 11, at the Truckee Tahoe Airport.
For information on the free event, to purchase a vendor booth space (nonprofits are free), to become a sponsor or to purchase VIP Tent Passes, visit TruckeeTahoeAirShow.com.
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