Rick Volker Airshows Rick Volker Air Shows


Flying Sportsman in a Harvard

by Rick Volker

Sportsman category is a perfect starting point for aerobatic pilots with higher goals. It is also a great playground for those who want to have fun with less competitive aircraft. As a competitor who followed the path of Sportsman through Unlimited category, I considered competition to be the only acceptable preparation for realizing my first aviation goal — flying air shows in a Sukhoi 26M. I am as surprised as anyone else that I found my way back to the competition playground.

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From 100LL Replacement Gasoline Showing Promise

By Stephen Pope / Published: Dec 13, 2011

A veteran airshow pilot says an unleaded biofuel gasoline undergoing testing in his Sukhoi Su-26M is providing power similar to conventional 100LL aviation fuel while greatly boosting his range. It is the latest sign that an alternative to leaded avgas may be within reach.

Rick Volker of Rick Volker Air Shows in Niagara Falls, New York, compared the performance of Swift Enterprises’ 100SF gasoline with conventional 100LL in flights of his Sukhoi at full power and in unusual attitudes to simulate air show flight. He said test results were supported by onboard engine monitoring.

“Swift's 100SF provides similar power, but with less fuel burned at every power setting, which allowed for significant increases in aircraft range,” he said. Volker said he tested the compatibility of 100SF in his unmodified, 360-horsepower Vedeneyev M14P radial engine and confirmed it met all performance benchmarks in each trial. “These tests,” he said, “provide supportive evidence that 100SF will meet the performance needs of aircraft during the most severe use imaginable, without any equipment changes.”

Volker's interest in finding a replacement for 100LL stems from environmental and national safety, he said.

“I’m anxious to contribute to solutions to our growing environmental problems. And my son is serving with the U.S. Marines in Afghanistan, so ending our dependence on foreign oil has gathered a new importance in my life,” he said. “My testing provides unbiased and independent validation that 100SF is a viable ultra-high-performance alternative fuel that is an answer to these problems.”

The EPA eventually wants to ban the sale of leaded avgas, and lawsuits in California seek to make it illegal to sell. More than 200,000 general aviation airplanes in the United States run on 100LL aviation gasoline.

Swift Enterprises, based in the Purdue Research Park in Lafayette, Indiana, has provided 4,500 gallons of fuel for a 150-hour test in a Lycoming piston engine, and has flown using the fuel in a Beech Bonanza G36 and Van’s Aircraft RV-3 and RV-4. Swift’s says its fuel has demonstrated 13 percent more energy per gallon than 100LL fuel, while showing normal engine wear and lower fuel system deposits.

The 100SF (SwiftFuel) alternative gasoline is made from renewable biomass that the company said will not compete with food crops and can be grown in low-irrigation environments. Swift Enterprises hopes to make 100SF fuel available at the pump soon.

To read more about where the industry is headed with biofuels, don’t miss Stephen Pope’s feature story, “Biofuel Future,” in the upcoming February issue of Flying magazine.

From Competition to Warbird
It’s not about the numbers

Sport Aero | October 2010

In childhood, the dream of flying a World War ll fighter often provides the spark to initiate flight training later in life. Pilots are faced with the grim reality that the costs of owning and operating a warbird are beyond oneʼs reach. They find other ways to satisfy these primal urges for speed and challenge. In some cases, this takes the form of aerobatic competition in high performance aircraft that possess a character remarkably similar to the piston warbirds that old dreams were made of. A single close encounter with one of these forgotten warriors is all that is needed to reawaken their desire from youth.

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Maneuvering Room
Head over heels in the Sukhoi Su-29


Thick mist billows in its wake like vaporized oil from a smoke system as the Niagara River tumbles over its namesake escarpment in a breathtaking aqueous Lomcevak. I catch occasional glimpses of the famed falls’ plume as we mimic its thunderous mayhem a few miles and an ever-oscillating number of thousands of feet of altitude to the south. This must be what it's like going over the falls in a barrel—if the barrel had a radial engine and a big prop and pulled a lot of positive and negative G’s. We're rolling and tumbling in a 1994 Sukhoi Su-29, the two-place trainer from the celebrated line of Russian aerobatic aircraft. Rick Volker (rvairshows.com), who flies a one-place Su-26 and a Supermarine Spitfire Mk 1X on the air show circuit, is demonstrating some of the qualities that brand Sukhois—in his opinion and by world aerobatic gold medal count — “the number-one unlimited category aircraft.”

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Kerry J. Newstead Interview: Rick Volker

World Airshow News | March/April 2007

Rick Volker is an unlimited category International Aerobatic Club pilot and has competed in aerobatic competitions for many years in high performance aircraft such as the Pitts and Sukhoi. Rick has won numerous regional aerobatic events. He is a former competitive swimmer, speed skater, bicycle racer, cross-country skier, and body builder. Such is the type of conditioning required to fly at this level, as Rick alternates between plus 11 and minus 6 Gs, often in the same maneuver.

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