2005 Hall of Fame - ICAS Foundation
Meet Wayne Handley
Wayne Handley is a former naval aviator, ag pilot, aerobatic champion, and preeminent airshow performer. Since beginning his aviation career in 1957, he has amassed over 31,000 hours of flight time with little of it spent straight, level, and upright. During his days spent as a crop duster, Wayne received a number of awards from the California Agricultural Aircraft Association including Member of the Year in 1980, the George H. Baldrick Memorial Award in 1984, Outstanding Airman Award in 1985, and Lifetime Member in 1991. Concurrently, in 1983, at the ripe young age of 44, Wayne began flying in IAC (International Aerobatic Club) competitions. In his first contest, with the extraordinary metric of 15,000 hours in his logbook, he placed 19th out of 21 competitors. After such an inauspicious start, Wayne really dug in. The following year, he won the California state point series in the Intermediate category. Then, in an unprecedented move, Wayne skipped the Advanced category altogether and surprised the aerobatic community by winning the Unlimited point series in 1985 and thus the title of California Unlimited Aerobatic Champion. After pocketing this title two more times, he left competition and chose to fly airshows full time. In 1989, he became the world record holder for inverted flat spins by completing 67 consecutive turns. Shortly thereafter, Wayne broke his own record with 78 consecutive turns. In 1996, he was presented the Bill Barber Award for Showmanship presented annually by World Airshow News to an airshow performer who has demonstrated superb showmanship ability. In 1997, Wayne received the Art Scholl Showmanship Award presented annually by ICAS (International Council of Air Shows) to the airshow act that best exemplifies the qualities of showmanship. In 2000, Wayne was honored by the Aero Club of Northern California, a branch of the National Aeronautic Association, with its Crystal Eagle Award. The inscription on this beautiful award reads "In acknowledgment of sustained leadership in the field of agricultural aviation and concurrent record setting activities as a professional acrobatic pilot who added new dimensions to the domain of precision airshow flight". In 2001, he was awarded the ICAS Sword of Excellence in recognition of his outstanding service and personal contribution to the airshow industry. In December 2005, Wayne was inducted into the ICAS Foundation Air Show Hall of Fame. Wayne now spends most of his workdays coaching aerobatic competitors, airshow performers, ag pilots, and military pilots. He also remains quite active on the speaking circuit, delighting audiences by sharing his vast aviation knowledge, his wonderful aviation stories, and his dry sense of humor.
Wayne started his aerobatic career flying a Pitts Special in competition and airshows and transitioned to the Raven in 1990. The Raven is a beautiful and exciting monoplane that proved itself to be a crowd favorite for the next eight years. In 1998, Wayne began flying airshows in the Oracle Turbo Raven. The Oracle Turbo Raven, powered by a 750 HP Pratt & Whitney PT6A-25C, was the first airshow airplane to have a positive thrust-to-weight ratio. With a performance weight of 1,900 pounds and 2,800 pounds of thrust, the Turbo Raven could climb straight up, stop in the vertical line, and then accelerate straight up again. Another of Wayne's favorite maneuvers in the Oracle Turbo Raven was to power out of a flat spin without lowering the nose below the horizon. On January 20, 1999, Wayne established a world record for all propeller driven airplanes by going from brake release to 3,000 meters in one minute and nine seconds. In April of 1999, flying a G-202, Wayne broke his own world record for inverted flat spins by taking the world record up to 78 turns. (Wayne asks anyone wishing to break this record to add his or her turns to the top and not the bottom of this maneuver.) During the EAA convention in Oshkosh on July 30,1999, Wayne established a new time-to-climb record to 6,000 meters in the Oracle Turbo Raven with a time of three minutes and six seconds.
On October 3, 1999, one year to the day that the Oracle Turbo Raven had been on the airshow circuit, Wayne was involved in a tragic accident while performing in the Turbo Raven at the California International Airshow. The airplane was a total loss and Wayne sustained a broken back and other injuries. Thanks to the preparedness of the show's emergency personnel and the magnificent staff of the Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital, Wayne made a complete recovery.
Away from the airport, Wayne spends his free time with Karen, his wife since birth, their children, and grandchildren. Karen was always recognized as an integral part of Team Raven. Whether it was public relations, managing the business details, or working in the pit area, Karen always had a major influence on the Team's impression on the public, the airshow producers, and fellow performers. Karen is a delight to anyone who has had the privilege of working with her. Wayne and Karen reside at the airport community of Pine Mountain Lake in Groveland, CA.