Pilots: Spencer Suderman

Crazy for aerobatics

August 1, 2012

Spencer Suderman

Ask Spencer Suderman why he is an aerobatic airshow performer, and he’ll tell you straight out: “Because I’m a narcissist. I like people to watch what I do.” He’ll tell you that with a self-deprecating grin and a twinkle in his brown eyes because, although he talks a big game, he’s actually a big, fun-loving softie who was nauseated every time he went under the hood while working on his instrument rating. To overcome that, he took spin training with CP Aviation’s Rich Stowell and discovered that he loved aerobatics. Soon he was teaching others “Rich’s program,” flying his own Pitts S–2B in airshows, and a founder of the Aerobatic Racing Challenge (ARC series).


  • Who: Spencer Suderman, airshow performer
  • Aircraft: Pitts S–2B Meteor. The Meteor has a 300-plus-horsepower Lycoming IO-540 engine, an MT three-blade composite propeller, a top speed of 210 mph, and maximum G loadings of plus and minus 6.
  • Airport: Camarillo Airport (CMA). “Camarillo has the best restaurant of any airport in Southern California, and maybe even the United States—and flying makes me hungry!”
  • Extra: “I started to build a One Design aerobatic monoplane and was about half way through the project when the opportunity to buy the Pitts came along. The decision to buy an airplane that I could fly in immediately, versus one that needed one to two years of work, was an easy one. Luckily I was able to sell the project on eBay and keep the peace in my house.”

His bright-red jumpsuit (his “acro-jammies,” he calls it) is emblazoned with the logos of his sponsors. Suderman calls his sponsors “partners” because they allow him to realize his part-time passion. A self-described “Internet geek,” Suderman’s day job is in information technology. Among his sponsors is the Drift HD camera, and he has mounted the camera throughout his aircraft. Many of his maneuvers can be viewed on his website. Suderman’s airshow performances feature an inverted flat spin with his signature corkscrew smoke trail. Smiling wickedly, he says, “I’m not really that good, but as long as I have that smoke, I can wow ’em. That’s why I’m an airshow pilot. No one is crazier than me.”

This month, Suderman will appear in the Wings Over Wine Country Air Show in Santa Rosa, California, August 18 and 19 and at the Lake in the Sky Air Show in Lake Tahoe August 25.

Julie Walker

Julie Summers Walker | AOPA Senior Features Editor

AOPA Senior Features Editor Julie Summers Walker joined AOPA in 1998. She is a student pilot still working toward her solo.