Thousands of spectators are set to converge on Joint Base Lewis-McChord for its biannual 2012 Air Expo this weekend. While there, they will get a up-close look at why Lt. Col. John Klatt of the Air National Guard is billed as one of the top aerobatic pilots in the world.
Klatt, 45, has been flying planes since he was 17. He has accumulated more than 15,000 hours of flight time, flying a range of planes including an F-16 Fighting Falcon and a C-130 Hercules.
For the past 10 years, Klatt has made his home inside the cockpit of MXS aerobatics plane as the pilot for the Air National Guard aerobatics team.
“I love performing in front of people,” Klatt said. “What we’re doing here is, we’re combining my love for air shows and promoting the National Guard.”
When Klatt takes to the air this weekend, he will accomplish that goal by offering a steady diet of eye-popping rolls, spins, turns, flips and dives.
The 2012 Air Expo is one of 18 stops the aerobatics team will make this summer. And for Klatt, each stop is an opportunity to spread his love of flying to younger generations. And if the look of excitement on the faces of children who visited Klatt on Wednesday at Boeing Field was any indication, he does just that.
“Did you see how excited those kids were?” he said. “It’s just fun to go different places and meet new people.”
Klatt and his team tour all over the country, but after performing at Seafair in Seattle over the years, Klatt said he and his crew have developed a distinct appreciation for the Northwest.
“We’re kind of back at home here,” the Minneapolis native said. “We love this area; it’s so beautiful.”