Dunham Makes the Most of AirVenture

It’s hard to say who was having more fun at comedian/ventriloquist Jeff Dunham’s show at AirVenture's Theater in the Woods on Wednesday night: Dunham or the overflow audience. Dunham, builder and pilot of several RotorWay helicopters, spent a few days at the show having a bunch of fun in the air.

He had a +8/-3 G session with aerobatic pilot and instructor Eric Tucker on Tuesday, and on Wednesday morning, he rode back seat in a P-51D Mustang piloted by Ed Bowlin during a multi-ship photo shoot. While waiting for the other planes in the formation to finish their photo sessions, he told the audience that he actually managed to catch a 45-minute nap in that classic warbird. “I call it the All-American nap. It was the greatest nap ever.”

Dunham was able to depart from his usual performance by playing to the EAA crowd, drawing laughs as the arm fell off one of his puppets, Achmed the Dead Terrorist. The puppet snapped back at him, “You’ve got duct tape, don’t you? You’re building a freaking helicopter!”

Dunham is the builder and pilot of a 1987 Exec 162, American Might, which is on display outside the RotorWay tent. The arresting paint scheme, designed by Scottsdale, Arizona’s Larry Vela of Dreamcatcher and Primal Fear prominence, depicts Army camo pulled back to reveal a rippling American flag. (The stabilizer features a campaign ad supporting grumpy Walter for President.)

Fascinated by helicopters since childhood, Dunham was hit hard by the building (and flying) bug: He announced to the audience that his next project will be RotorWay International’s new helicopter, the A600 Talon, which debuted at AirVenture 2007. The Talon is a comprehensive redesign of the previous models, incorporating requests from customers such as an all-glass cockpit and a backup FADEC system. The 162’s primary drive chain has been replaced by a heavy-duty cog belt to improve maintenance access and component longevity.

According to RotorWay staff, Dunham is a dedicated craftsman, determined to be the only builder of his new Talon, no matter how long it takes. The holder of the Repairman Certificate for his aircraft, he included his flying experiences in the pre-show video presentation: “You’re going 90 miles an hour 600 feet in the air—there is nothing better than this. When I’m flying, I like to go low. You can see the world passing by you—you can see everything. There’s nothing more fun than this.”

For more information, call 480/961-1001, or visit RotorWay International.

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