Photos by Larry Raulston
A Family Legacy Written In The Skies
It’s 1967 and a crowd has gathered at the airport for a weekend air show. 19-year old Jimmy Franklin puts his Waco UPF-7 through its paces at show center and lands in front of the crowd. As he emerges from the cockpit, still wearing his goggles and leather helmet, he flashes a gambler’s grin and the crowd immediately warms up to the charismatic young man who will soon become an air show legend.
And so began Franklin’s Flying Circus.
For over 45 years, the Franklins have thrilled audiences around the world with unique and exciting acts. Always focused on entertainment, always striving for perfection in their flying and their ideas, the Franklins never wanted to be known merely as pilots. Their fans wanted more than precision flying, so Kyle and Jimmy delivered a now legendary mix of flying, entertainment, and of course - a great story. Their showmanship and talent have not gone unrewarded. Jimmy was the first person to receive the Art Scholl Award for showmanship and the only performer to receive this honor twice. He was also inducted into the Air Show Hall of Fame and the International Aerobatic Hall of Fame. Kyle’s skill as a performer has been recognized in numerous magazine and publication covers, a reality TV show appearance, media interviews, and of course - the support and admiration of his fans, friends, and sponsors.
Continuing the family legacy, Kyle continues to raise the bar for the rest of the air show industry. He brought his own ideas to the Cub Comedy routine and perfected the Ben Whabnoski character. In 2008, he turned his Waco Mystery Ship into a pirate ship and penned the story of Captain Kyro and Scandalous Scarlett - Pirated Skies was a hit with his fans and the envy of the industry for three seasons. And now Kyle has created Dracula. The immortal monster of dreams and nightmares takes the form of a new biplane and a thrilling airshow act. Dracula has the bold look and sound of a 1930’s racing airplane with a custom paint job that looks like something from the opening scene of a horror movie. The debut of Dracula has been anticipated by Kyle’s audience for years. Showing off his marketing skills, Kyle finished the airplane in secrecy. As evidence of Kyle’s reputation as a performer, over fifteen air shows booked the act without ever seeing even a picture of the illusive airplane.
Dracula is the thrill today and in the years to come, but another crusade has begun. As with Dracula, a good mystery is as good as the tale.
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