William Lewis “Skip” Stewart known as Skip Stewart, is an aerobatic and commercial pilot from the United States. Stewart flies in airshows in the United States and abroad, in his two highly modified Pitts muscle biplanes.
Skip Stewart is best known for his high-energy aerobatics routine, which includes very low and slow knife-edge passes.
His performances most often involve transitioning into slow knife-edge flight immediately after takeoff, followed by an outside-banked turn as he sets up for his routine.
The performances themselves involve extreme positive and negative G maneuvers, utilizing the full performance and maneuvering envelopes of his aircraft. He is known for performing a double ribbon-cut, in which he slices the first (upper) ribbon with his aircraft’s vertical tail while in inverted flight, and the second (lower) ribbon with his lower wing while in sustained knife-edge flight.
Stewart’s showmanship typically continues till the very end of his performances, as he lands on one wheel, and then performs smoking doughnuts on the taxiway.
Stewart holds the distinction of being the first pilot to fly under a jumping motorcycle at an airshow. He also flies knife-edge while racing cars and trucks on the runway, including the Shockwave jet truck. He has even done a ribbon transfer from the back of a pickup truck to his wing while traveling at 70 mph in knife-edge flight.
Stewart was a member of the X-Team and flew Codename Mary’s Lamb with Jim Leroy. He happened to be flying with him on the day Leroy crashed his aircraft and died. The following day, Stewart flew his Pitts biplane in a touching salute to Leroy.
He continued the show by flying Tinstix of Dynamite with pilots such as Jurgis Kairys, Patty Wagstaff, Melissa Pemberton and Gary Ward. He also flies a similar show called “Mayhem” with John Mohr. In addition to utilizing jet trucks to add to the spectacle, these shows also make heavy use of synchronized pyrotechnics provided by Rich’s Incredible Pyro.
In addition to his airshow routines, Stewart makes it a point to make himself available to airshow fans and enthusiasts, and enjoys interacting with the crowd. He trains hard in order to maintain the physical fitness required to withstand the intense stress of high-G flight. Even though he jokingly refers to himself as “Piloto Loco”, he emphasizes that safety is always the first priority, and must be balanced with entertainment.