Jim Gibson. Airboss.

Photo of Jim Gibson directing air show
Jim in action at a recent airshow. All the airspace in his hands!

Imagine conducting a world class orchestra for an audience of 10,000 people.  Does the notion make your palms sweat, just a little?  Now imagine the cellos, flutes, tubas, etc. flying around the auditorium at upwards of 300 miles per hour.  Do you think you could handle that?  Shea Carr Jewell’s own Jim Gibson, project manager and professional engineer, can. Jim Gibson is an Airboss.

There over 300 air shows a year in the US, each with a unique set of demonstrations and performances, and each one requires an Airboss to coordinate all of the aerial activities.  Beyond just being an air traffic controller, the pacing and presentation are also in the hands of the Airboss.  Safety, of course, is the primary concern but the Airboss controls not just the air but the entire show.

Photo of Patriot jets dropping a wall of fire at air show
Planning & execution must be spot on to ensure safety & entertainment (2000 foot wall of fire).

Jim’s lifetime interest in flying and career as a Professional Engineer make him well-suited for the job.   Jim has spent time in the air as long as he can remember.  His first trips up were in a Cessna 172 flown by his father, also a Professional Engineer (the apple didn’t fall too far from the hangar.)  As a teenager Jim got some time behind the yoke under the guidance of his dad, and in 2001 he received his private pilot’s license.

Photo of soldiers at military air show open to the public
Airshows are not only about airplanes; it is a way for the public to meet our military.

Nine years ago Jim volunteered at the local Olympic Air Show held annually at the Olympia Regional Airport in Tumwater, Washington.  That first year Jim manned the souvenir shop (an important, if slightly less glamorous role).  The next year he got involved in the production side, assisting and learning from the more experienced staff, eventually landing the Airboss spot in 2005.

In addition to the Olympic Air Show Jim has been increasingly busy hiring out to other events across the country.  Jim says he has choreographed a total five events this summer, noting “Being the Airboss means all flying responsibilities are yours during the show, but seeing the audience’s interaction and enjoyment makes it all worthwhile.”  At recent shows Jim has found himself directing such diverse acts as the Blue Angels, the Air Force Thunderbirds, Golden Knights Parachute Team, the Geico Skytypers, military jet demonstrations and scores of aerobatic performances.

We at SCJ wish Jim continued success with his expanding Airboss gig – but he’d better not decide to do it full time!

Photo from cockpit during flight of prop-powered aircraft
Jim hitches a ride from Maine to New York after a show. His commercial flight had been shut down due to Hurricane Irene. Jim’s in a Beechcraft Baron. The one in the background is a P-51 Mustang from the wounded Warrior Flight Team.

One Comment

  1. We enjoyed reading your article about Jim,the airboss, and think it was well written. We are also proud of his accomplishments and think that Shea Carr & Jewell is a good firm to be working for.
    Jims Mom & Dad


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