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San Antonio, TX — For some pilots, it runs in the family. Maj. Ryan “Rider” Corrigan can draw influence from his uncle and dad, both F-16 pilots.
Corrigan will showcase his skills during the F-16 “Viper East Demo” at the Randolph 2011 Air Show this coming Saturday and Sunday.
“I knew I wanted to be a pilot after I saw my first air show,” Corrigan said. “My uncle was a Thunderbird F-16 pilot.” His older brother and cousin are also in the family business.
After 11 years in the Air Force (seven of which have been spent as an F-16 pilot), Corrigan acknowledged the difference between training for combat and an air show.
“It’s a different type of mentality,” he said. “Training for air shows takes you out of combat mentality and training. We get to showcase to Americans the maneuvering power and the airplane’s ability to change directions rapidly.”
Corrigan first applied for the position of demonstration pilot after completing his assignment as a combat aviator.
“I didn’t want a desk job somewhere, I wanted to hold onto the airplane as long as I could,” he said.
He will be flying the F-16 Fighting Falcon, commonly known as the Viper, a multirole fighter aircraft used for air-to-air combat and air-to-surface attack. Corrigan compares the experience to driving.
“I still feel 18 when I fly. Imagine driving the most impressive sports car you can imagine and multiply it by 10,” Corrigan said.
Even though he enjoys the plane’s 360-degree views and its ability to fly upside down at supersonic speeds, Corrigan is quick to point out the amount of training and “book knowledge” required to fly a Viper.
“There’s a lot of preparation that goes into a flight before we hit the runway. It’s scripted and well thought out,” Corrigan said. “Each maneuver has a specific entry, and we have to be able to hit those numbers or else we won’t do the maneuver.”
Corrigan has spent the last four years as an F-16 instructor pilot and demonstration pilot stationed at Shaw AFB in South Carolina, but the 34-year-old grew up in San Antonio, and attended Windcrest Elementary and White Junior High school. Although Corrigan already knows who will replace him in Viper East, he’s waiting for his next assignment: “Hopefully, it involves a plane that goes real fast.”