July 11, 2014
By Alton K. Marsh
Greg Koontz is the 2014 winner of the Bill Barber Award for Showmanship given each year to an outstanding airshow performer.
In his act, Koontz flies the American Champion Super Decathlon, the Extreme Decathlon, and a Piper Cub that is landed atop a pickup truck, playing an "Alabama Boy" who steals an airplane without knowing how to fly.
Koontz was a corporate jet pilot until 2002 when he began performing in airshows full-time and teaching courses in basic aerobatics and upset recovery for general aviation pilots at his ranch in Ashville, Alabama. Prior to his corporate jet career he performed in Ernie Moser’s Flying Circus based in St. Augustine, Florida.
Ernie Moser, the father of the late Jim Moser of St. Augustine, Fla., inspired many to fly including his son who taught himself aerobatics from a book while actually in flight with a friend. The younger Moser flew in an Extra aerobatic airplane for an AOPA Pilot cover.
Students visiting the Koontz ranch just outside the tiny town of Ashville are given a room and invited to eat breakfast with their instructor to get a briefing on the day's flight. He has taught hundreds of pilots to keep themselves upright when their aircraft is upset by turbulence, and hundreds more to make the perfect loop, snap roll, or spin.
He chose the Decathlon for his aerobatic performance because he believes it is an aircraft available to the average pilot, as compared to the advanced and expensive aircraft used in today's wild, tumbling acts. The Decathlon is more suited to the classic ballet-style aerobatic act.
AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Alton Marsh has been a pilot since 1970 and has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates, aerobatic training, and a commercial seaplane certificate.
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