PASCO -- Flying straight and level isn't John Klatt's bag.
Klatt and fellow pilot Bill Stein like to spend weekends making their airplanes do things sane pilots usually avoid. But it's all in a day's work for these guys.
The two will be part of the aerial show put on during the Tri-City Water Follies, which begins today and runs through Sunday. Both pilots will display their aerobatic skills during the HAPO Community Credit Union Over the River Air Show which begins at 2 p.m. each day.
Thursday morning Klatt and Stein went up to twist their specialized craft through the sky for the benefit of two cameramen riding along in a Beechcraft Bonanza.
"OK guys, John's going to roll inverted here," Bill Kerns, the Beechcraft's pilot, told the photographers crouched behind him. Flying only a short distance from the Beechcraft's wingtip, Klatt calmly whipped his Panzl S-330 upside down and held it there, smiling for the cameras.
Next he and Stein went through a series of rolls, spins and other maneuvers, marking their paths with tangled trails of smoke produced by a special system that sprays oil onto the engine's hot exhaust. "In a t
ypical performance, (Klatt) will go through seven or eight gallons of smoke oil," Kerns said later.
When he's not knifing through the sky as part of the Air National Guard's aerobatic team, Klatt is Lt. Col. John Klatt with the 148
th fighter wing of the Duluth (Minn.) Air National Guard, where he is an F-16 pilot.
Back on the ground after Thursday's flight, Klatt said he doesn't have a preference between the sleek fighter and the nimble custom planes he amazes people with at air shows.
"I like flying them both," he said. "They each have a different mission."