Half Moon Bay's Own Eddie Andreini
World-Renowned Aerobatics Pilot
If you want to experience heart-thumping, awe-inspiring, lost-my-breath kind of amazement, you don’t need to look much further than Eddie Andreini, whose world-renowned aerobatic planes will be on view at this year’s Pacific Coast Dream Machines on Saturday and Sunday, April 27-28 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Half Moon Bay Airport.
This year, Eddie will be showing his completely restored P-51 Mustang "Primo Branco". This plane is sure to amaze!
"I started flying at the age of 16, and have been performing in air shows for the last 25 years," said Andreini from the hangar at the Half Moon Bay Airport where he keeps his prized aircraft, a Russian made YAK-9 and a Super Stearman bi-plane.
To perform the kind of top-flight aerobatics that, in 2004, earned Andreini the coveted Sword of Excellence Award from the International Conference of Air Shows, "you have to have commitment, longevity, and yes, a bit of nerve," Andreini explained.
He’s not kidding; the dramatic loops, spectacular spirals, and unnerving tumbles he has executed for air show enthusiasts from Canada to Australia look dramatic — and perilous. U.S. Aviator Magazine described Andreini’s show as packed with "lots of maneuvers that descend tantalizingly close to the ground."
On the subject of his daring-do, the pilot remains refreshingly humble. "I think aerobatics appear more frightening to a layman than to pilots, because in the cockpit, you practice and come to understand the mechanics, the physics of it all. You take your skills to a certain level of proficiency, and gain an understanding of what your plane is capable of. In the end, you actually become very comfortable doing what might look terrifying from the ground."
Andreini’s reputation for amazing aerobatics is due in no small part to the planes he performs in. The Super Stearman, a completely restored 1944 bi-plane boasting a modified 450 horsepower Pratt & Whitney engine, has numerous other tweaks that Andreini dreamed up himself in order to coax the best performance out of the plane.
"I could tell you a lot about the technical aspects of what I’ve done to this plane," he says, "but I have to say that one of the major modifications was just for looks."
He is referring to the wing smoke system, which paints the sky with ribbons of white, tracing each dramatic loop or heart-stopping stall Andreini executes. It is a definite crowd pleaser. For night shows, he is also capable of igniting a fireworks display off the wings, an enormous crowd pleaser that leaves audiences gasping and thrilled.
Along with the Super Stearman, Andreini performs in his YAK-9U. Produced from 1942 to 1948, this aircraft was Russia’s primary heavy fighter during WWII and into the Korean War. Andreini says his modified YAK can out-accelerate, out-climb, and out-maneuver a P-51 Mustang, one of America’s greatest assets in WWII.
And while Andreini could speak for hours on the wondrous capabilities of his aircraft, he says that the thing he loves most about performing at air shows is coming back to earth.
"There is always some small child who you know just became passionate about flying because of what he saw my plane do. Or even an older person will tell me that my performance really went deep into his or her heart and touched him in an unexpected, but so meaningful way," Andreini said. "That, for me, is what keeps me flying."