Wayne Handley

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Wayne Handley (born March 26, 1939 in Carmel, California) is an American airshow performer, former naval aviator, agricultural pilot, Aerobatic Competency Evaluator (ACE), and coach for upcoming and current airshow stars. Wayne, and his wife Karen are former residents of the Salinas Valley of California, who currently reside in Groveland, California.

Wayne’s father wouldn’t allow him to fly while living under his roof, but in 1957, while attending Hartnell College in Salinas Wayne got in touch with the campus flying club, and took his first lesson in an Aeronca 7AC. Two years later Wayne had 70 hours in his logbook, left College and enlisted in the US Navy. Wayne trained through propeller driven aircraft up into the Grumman F9F Cougar and F-11 Tiger carrier based fighters. In 1963, when faced with the choice of either transitioning into the F-4 Phantom or taking an aerial application job back at home, Wayne chose to be with his family, and started flying agricultural operations in fixed wing aircraft and rotorcraft. Wayne began flying aerobatics after taking ownership of a Pitts S1C in the early 80's, entering his first International Aerobatic Club contest in 1983. [1]

Today, with over 27,000 hours of flight time logged, Wayne is a highly respected, record setting aviator who received the California Agricultural Aircraft Association's Outstanding Airman Award in 1985, the International Aerobatic Club named him the California Unlimited Aerobatic Champion also in 1985, the Bill Barber Award for Showmanship in 1996, the Art Scholl Memorial Showmanship Award in 1997, the Crystal Eagle Award in 2000, and the International Council of Airshows Sword of Excellence in 2001, and induction into the International Council of Airshows Airshow Hall of Fame. Wayne also set the world records for inverted flat spins in 1989 with 67 consecutive revolutions. Wayne beat his own record in April 1999 with 78 rotations flying a Giles G202. In 1999 Wayne also set multiple time to climb records in his Turbo Raven.

On March 13, 2014 air show performer Spencer Suderman broke the inverted flat spin world record by completing 81 full rotations in a Pitts S-2B over the California desert in El Centro, CA. AOPA was the first to break the story: HERE Video of this spin can be see on Youtube

On the airshow circuit Wayne initially flew a Pitts Special Biplane in an act that he called Agrobatics in which he merged some of the techniques that an agricultural pilot might employ while applying chemicals to crops with his own graceful style of aerobatic flying. Wayne would fly under a ribbon stretched between two poles which simulated powerlines, afterwards he performed an inverted cut of that ribbon using his propeller. After a few years in the Pitts, Wayne started work on a one of a kind aircraft which would be known as the Raven.


The Raven is a composite monoplane with a unique paint scheme that paid tribute to the bird species which has been observed performing aerobatics apparently for fun. Originally based on the Rebel 2300 homebuilt aircraft Wayne modified the design with a two place seating arrangement, the Edge wing by Zivko Aeronautics, and many other custom details such that the Raven was a one of a kind aircraft of Wayne's design. Very advanced for its time, the Raven was capable of +/-16G, over 380 degrees per second roll rate, a 4,000-foot (1,200 m) per minute rate of climb, stunning tumbles, torque rolls, tailslides, and any other maneuver Wayne could create. This aircraft performed for airshow crowds for over a decade up until its August 2005 retirement to the Evergreen Aviation Museum where it will hang above the Spruce Goose.

In 1998, with sponsorship by Oracle, and seeking an even more impressive airshow aircraft, Wayne set out to create the exceptional Oracle Turbo Raven which was the world’s only aerobatic aircraft with a thrust to weight ratio higher than one (more thrust than weight). Teaming up with Richard Giles of Akrotech, and AgAir Systems, the Oracle Turbo Raven came to life. The composite airframe based on the G-202 design had an empty weight of only 1,600 pounds (725 kg) and was fitted with a 750 horsepower (560 kW) Pratt & Whitney PT6A-25C turboprop that generated 2,800 pounds (12,500 N) of thrust which gave the aircraft a power loading of less than 2.7 lb/hp at ready to fly weights. With this unheard of power loading the Oracle Turbo Raven could fly straight up, hover in mid-air, back up, stop, and then accelerate straight up out of the hover. The aircraft also had enough power that it could recover from flat spins simply by flying out of them with the nose still on the horizon. With a top speed of 300 mph (480 km/h) and a roll rate of 450 degrees per second this aircraft was quite impressive.

Wayne once again got into the record books flying the Turbo Raven from brake release to 3,000 meters in only one minute and nine seconds on January 20, 1999. In July 1999 at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh the Turbo Raven took three minutes, six seconds to get to 6,000 meters, and established the Turbo Raven as the fastest climbing propeller driven aircraft in the world. This aircraft was also able to reverse the pitch of its propeller blades in flight, and could actually slow down while diving towards the ground, Wayne used this ability to make very steep approaches to land, as well as for unique maneuvers where he could slow below stall speed while diving. Sadly, this aircraft was destroyed October 3, 1999, exactly one year to the day after its debut when the engine failed during one such approach at the California International Airshow at Salinas and Wayne was unable to accelerate above stall speed with the propeller in reverse pitch. Wayne was seriously injured, though fortunately he made a full recovery and was flying within a month after the accident. The NTSB official accident investigation claims that the power-plant and the propeller were operating normally and blamed the crash on pilot error [2]

Today Wayne continues to train, coach, and evaluate aerobatic students and airshow pilots from the ground and in flight in his Extra 300L as well as give safety seminars on spins and unusual attitudes. [3]


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