Warbird pilots, or pilots of vintage military aircraft, have an innate passion for flying. When other kids dreamed of hitting the ball out of the park, these guys fantasized about racing down the chute at Reno. “Passion is the perfect word to describe it”, says John-Curtiss Paul, a decorated Reno Air Race Pilot. “If you are a pilot you just need to fly. If you have that passion, it just needs to be fulfilled. I do it because I love it.”
In present-day aviation, safety is king; there’s little glory in being a maverick. Pilots have a meticulous life that only those those immersed in aviation can truly appreciate; most of their time is solitary, spent on the ground, committed to making sure planes are in top flying shape. “One of the greatest accomplishments [is] when somebody you admire or respect shows that same gratitude for your ability to be safe.”
There’s no denying it: in the air, a lot can go wrong. “I can tell you that I have over 11 people still in my cell phone that aren’t with us anymore”, Paul says. “I do fear getting killed in a plane crash. Chances are, it means I just did something stupid or I did something wrong. It’s a constant. It’s there. But it’s not something you can focus on, dwell on.” Even though as a warbird pilot Paul may be part of a dying breed, it’s clear that his passion for flying isn’t going anywhere. The short film Warbird Pilot: Behind the Visor follows John-Curtiss Paul as he balances aviation and family life.