Rich’s Incredible Pyro Going Out With a Bang

Rich Gibson’s airshow work is impossible to ignore. His company, Rich’s Incredible Pyro, is responsible for the gigantic walls of flame that accompany simulated aerial attacks during EAA AirVenture and other airshows around the world.

This year will be Rich’s swan song at Oshkosh, but he has left indelible memories for anyone who’s seen his act and also left scorched grass behind at the end of the AirVenture week.

Rich said he’s been “blowing things up” since he was eight years old. He and his wife and business partner, Dee, received formal training in explosives from the U.S. Army, where Rich served in Vietnam with the 101st Airborne Division and Dee blasted rock to build roads in Honduras. The couple met while skydiving in the Chicago area, and when they married, Rich promised his bride their life would never be dull.

Their technique includes using a mixture of gasoline, dynamite and other explosives, and their approach to safety has resulted in a 30-year career in which no spectator or company worker has ever been injured.

Rich also operates an air charter service and has logged more than 10,000 hours in aircraft from J-3 Cubs to Falcon jets. The couple has continued skydiving, logging more than 700 jumps to date.

No successor to Rich’s Incredible Pyro has been named for next year’s AirVenture, but EAA Chairman Jack Pelton said Rich is helping with the search to locate a replacement. “EAA members have certainly enjoyed their work over the years, and we wish Rich and Dee all the best in their retirement,” said Pelton.

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Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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