LCDR Mark "Crunchy" Burgess, USN (ret)
Flight Hours: 3800 hours
Combat Hours 256 hours
Mark is a Naval Academy graduate and career Naval Officer who flew three combat tours in F-14 Tomcats. His first tour was flying F-14A’s with VF-24 “Renegades” onboard the USS Nimitz. His second was in the F-14D with VF-2 “Bounty Hunters” aboard USS Constellation, both in support of Operation Southern Watch over Iraq. Mark then spent the next 3 years as an F-14 A/B/D Instructor pilot with VF-101 “Grim Reapers”, at NAS Oceana, VA. During this tour he also served as the Navy’s lead F-14 Demonstration Pilot for the 2000 and 2001 airshow seasons, performing at airshows across the United States and Canada.
His final tour was with VF-31 “Tomcatters” where he completed a 10-month deployment aboard USS Lincoln in support of Operation Enduring Freedom over Afghanistan, and Operation Iraqi Freedom over Iraq. He saw extensive combat operations as a Forward Air Control (Airborne) supporting Army and Marine Corps troops during the march to take Baghdad.
After retiring from the Navy in 2010, Mark joined the Warrior Aviation team and became the lead pilot for the Warrior Flight Team. The Warrior Flight Team has performed in over 20 airshows over the past three years, helping to raise awareness of the plight of our returning wounded veterans.
Pat Marsh is a native of the beaches of San Diego and the son of a career Naval Aviator. A business owner in the Washington DC area he has been flying since 1987, holds a commercial pilots certificate with an instrument rating and is a FAST rated formation pilot. He flew under contract with the Naval Test Pilot School, Patuxent River, Maryland, from 1997-2000 and has been flying airshows since 1994. Owner of the Vandy 1 black jet, he is the founder of Vandy 1 and a co-founder of Warrior Aviation. He has over 2000 flight hours in various warbirds, including L-39s and Russian yaks.
Flight Hours: Over 2,400 hours
Combat Hours: 269 hours
Major Geoff “Hak” Hickman graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1994, and from the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, in 1996. "Hak" has over 1,700 hours of F-16 time and has performed for over 17 million airshow spectators as the Viper East F-16 demonstration team commander and pilot at 77 different air show sites across the United States, Canada and Europe. Geoff has over 700 hours of F-16 instructor and evaluator time and has flown in combat over Iraq and Serbia. Since leaving the Air Force in 2006, Geoff has pursued his passion for aviation flying the L-39 and the F-104.
Flight Hours: Over 1,800 hours
Combat Hours: 450 hours
A native of Pensacola, Florida, and son of a Naval Aviator Doug graduated from Arizona State University and was commissioned in the USAF in 1999. Assigned flight training at NAS Pensacola he earned his wings in 2000 and has flown USAF and USN aircraft to include T-34C, T-1A, T-39G/N, T-2C, F-15, F-16, B-1B and EA-6B. He was carrier qualified in the EA-6B Prowler and deployed aboard the USS Nimitz and John Stennis. He has over 1800 flight hours, including 450 hours in combat operations in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. He currently resides Abilene, TX and is the narrator and coordinator for Warrior Aviation
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CDR Bill "Pinch" Paisley, USNR (ret) - Blogger and Photographer
Flight Hours: 1250
A native of Opelika, Alabama, and the proud son of a career Navy Aviator, CDR Bill "Pinch" Paisley earned his Wings of Gold in 1986. Pinch reported to VF-101 in Virginia Beach, VA for F-14 RIO training. His first fleet tour was with the World Famous Tophatters of Fighter Squadron 14 (VF-14) on board USS John F Kennedy. He later spent a tour with the Defense Plant Representative Office at Grumman Aerospace flying the F-14 D Tomcat. Pinch concluded his Navy active duty as a catapult officer on USS Dwight D Eisenhower and accumulated over 1250 flight hours, 1000 in the F-14 A, B and D Tomcats. He currently resides the northern Virginia area and works for the US Navy in Modeling and Simulation.
Lt Col Dane Nielsen grew up in Brigham City, Utah, and resides in Washington D.C. Dane is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy and has over 5000 hours of flying time in numerous aircraft. He is a Command Pilot in the U. S. Air Force stationed at Joint Base Andrews, MD. In his final assignment, he flew the C-20B, C-37A and C-37B (military versions of the Gulfstream III, V and 550 business jets) as an instructor/evaluator pilot in the 89th Airlift Wing. The 89th AW provides worldwide transportation to America’s leaders including the Vice President, First Lady of the United States, Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense as well as other military and diplomatic VIPs. Prior to this assignment, Lt Col Nielsen flew aeromedical evacuation flights in the C-9, and supported combat operations in Middle East and Afghanistan flying the KC-10.
John is a native of Burke, Virginia, and career Naval Reserve Officer who flew two combat tours in F-14 Tomcats. Both tours were flying F-14D’s with the VF-31 “Tomcatters” off the USS Carl Vinson and USS Abraham Lincoln in support of Operation Southern Watch. John then spent the next 5 years as an F-14 A/B/D instructor with VF-101 “Grim Reapers” at NAS Oceana, VA. He also flew on the F-14 Demonstration Team from 2000-2004. He is currently a Selected Reservist assigned to the VFC-111 “Sundowners” in Key West, FL flying F-5 Tigersharks as adversary support. His civilian career includes time spent as a test pilot helping to certify the EA-500 Eclipse Jet and as an L-39 Upset Recovery Instructor. He is currently a 747-800 First Officer for Cathay Pacific Airways.
Matt Blush is a Native of Washington D.C. His military Experience was through the U.S. Army. He is a
Co-Founder of Warrior Aviation Charity and a Principal in Vandy 1 L.L.C. He has been Flying Since 1976 and holds a Private Pilots Certificate with over 2,900 hours of Flight experience. He has flown everything from a Great Lakes Bi-Plane to Ultra-lite aircraft and Gyrocopters. He has a business background and was formerly the Director of Ballpark Operations for the Washington Nationals Baseball Club and is currently the Managing Director of Capital for the Lerner Corporation (The Owners of the Nationals). He is the Crew Chief for the Vandy 1 L-39, performed the restoration and Owner of “The Beast” M-35 that accompanies the L-39 to the Airshows.
Born and raised as a Connecticut Yankee, Gary began his aviation career 16 years ago after a successful run playing guitar in the rock band PYN SIREN.
Gary's speciality is in vintage aircraft nose art and markings. He has painted numerous high-profile warbirds including the B-17 "Memphis Belle",B-29 "Jacks Hack", B-25's "Tondelayo" and "Take-Off Time", P-51's, P-47s, F4U Corsairs, F-86s and more. He wrote his first book on the subject "Fighting Colors, the Creation of Military Nose Art" in 2004 and recently appeared in the documentary "Nose Art & Pin Ups".
Gary painted the VANDY 1 scheme on the L-39 and maintains its integrity during show season as well as serving on the ground crew. Additional, Gary creates designs for the teams merchandise program and official team graphics. Now residing in central Virginia, Gary focuses on running his business and assisting in the image and marketing aspects of the Warrior Aviation Team.