Retired Naval aviator and former Red Bull Air Race international race director Jim DiMatteo is taking on one of the world’s premier aviation events as vice president of AirVenture features and attractions, the Experimental Aircraft Association announced Feb. 16.
DiMatteo fills a role vacated in a recent reorganization at EAA that the association said was designed to renew its commitment to its core mission of “growing participation in aviation.” DiMatteo has experience with that mission: The Red Bull Air Races, now on extended hiatus, attracted an average of more than 500,000 spectators in cities internationally and reached hundreds of millions more through television and other media.
"Jim DiMatteo is an excellent addition to the EAA staff," said EAA President Rod Hightower. "His background, expertise, and leadership will enable us to make EAA AirVenture—already 'The World's Greatest Aviation Celebration'—even better."
In more than 20 years as a Navy pilot, DiMatteo flew more than 5,000 hours in F/A-18, F-16N, F-14, F-5, A-4 aircraft, including 72 combat missions in support of Operation Desert Storm. He also oversaw elite Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor adversary programs, commonly known as TOPGUN, serving as commanding officer of TOPGUN squadrons in Florida and Nevada, and later overseeing all TOPGUN programs. He also led 2011’s Centennial of Naval Aviation Foundation programs nationwide, retiring from the Navy as a captain.
Serving as international race director for the Red Bull Air Race World Championship from 2006 to 2010, he orchestrated high-speed, single-aircraft pylon races against the backdrop of major cities across the world—including a New York City event, the culmination of years of planning. In 2010, organizers canceled the final race of the season and announced it would suspend its 2011 races. DiMatteo later joined Air Race Inc., an international company developing single-aircraft timed air racing under a new business model. At EAA, he will be responsible for developing and coordinating programs for the association’s annual fly-in and airshow.
"We are excited to see Jim DiMatteo bringing his considerable experience and skills to the annual EAA AirVenture Oshkosh fly-in,” said AOPA President Craig Fuller. “This event is one all of us in general aviation embrace, and its success is vital for our community. We certainly are pleased to see Jim join our good friends at EAA and look forward to working with him during this year and in the years ahead."