Madison, Indiana pilot flying high as part of 'Thunder' Airshow - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Madison, Indiana pilot flying high as part of 'Thunder' Airshow

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Thunder Over Louisville features dozens of pilots, including Madison, Indiana native Cliff Robinson.

As you step into Robinson's hanger at Madison Municipal Airport, you're instantly transported to the 1930s when biplanes ruled the sky.

"This is a 1941 Boeing Steerman and it originally started out as a World War II trainer," said Robinson, describing the plane that stars in Robinson's aerobatic spectacular.

The dazzling display includes dips and dives in the air. Gravity is just another tool in his toolbox.

"Seeing the world go round, seeing the horizon go around. The G-forces that you experience," said Robinson.

The aerobatics pilot travels all over the country performing for air show crowds, but he calls Thunder Over Louisville special.

"You fly down on the water between the two bridges. So not a whole lot of room there. Maybe three-fourths of a mile. You've got to do them all in that box," he said.

The space might be limited, but Robinson puts on one heck of a show as hundreds of thousands of people watch and cheer. Robinson remains focused on his routine.

"You're not paying attention to anything, but what you're supposed to be doing and trying to do it exactly right," said Robinson.

As he twists and turns in the sky, he flies with a constant reminder of the man who taught him the trade.

"I think a great deal of my father and I put it on there to honor him actually," he said referring to his father's name, which is on the side of his plane. That means his father is always with him as he travels from show to show. "Sometimes I can still hear him telling me what to do," said Robinson.

It was his father, a flight instructor, who first taught Robinson to fly at the age of 16, insisting he knows aerobatics as a matter of safety not entertainment.

"I remember the very first spin that my father demonstrated to me and I got pretty dizzy," he said. No longer dizzy, Robinson puts on a choreographed routine that takes precision and finesse.

"You've got to be able to do the loop at 100 feet and end up at exactly 100 feet," said Robinson.

It's a thrilling ride and he has no plans to land anytime soon. "I'm 67, so what? I have got another 30 years or so?" he said.

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