Roll up, roll up for Brendan’s Flying Circus

The Flying Circus demonstrates truck top landing
The Flying Circus demonstrates truck top landing

ROLL UP, roll up as the Flying Circus returns to Shoreham Airport.

Display pilot Brendan O’Brien, who has not been seen at Shoreham since 2011, will demonstrate truck top landing at this year’s airshow.

“It is a great pleasure to be back and I am very proud to be here to contribute in some small way to the Royal Air Forces Association,” he said.

He has been in the display business for about 40 years, specialising in barnstorming.

Giving a potted history of barnstorming, Brendan said the first powered flight was in 1903 and by 1904, people were doing 360 degree turns.

“It was amazing at the time. Barnstorming comes from literally flying around towns, landing in a field, getting in somebody’s barn and doing a deal with the farmer.

Display pilot Brendan O'Brien with his Piper J-3 Cub

Display pilot Brendan O'Brien with his Piper J-3 Cub

“That developed through the First World War, along with aerobatic flying. If you didn’t, very often, you would die.”

The first loop-the-loops came in 1913 and the real ‘golden age’ was the 1920s and ‘30s.

Brendan said: “The number one key to all barnstorming is entertainment. I do truck top landings, crazy flying. I produced a definition of crazy flying for the Civil Aviation Authority, which was the demonstration or display of an aircraft in such a manner that it appeared to be out of the control of the pilot but most definitely was not.”

When possible, he flies with his dog, which was nine-weeks old for the first loop and roll, sitting on Brendan’s chest. The pair have since completed 50 hours together in the air.

The number one key to all barnstorming is entertainment. I do truck top landings, crazy flying.

Display pilot Brendan O’Brien
Truck top landing at Shoreham Airport

Truck top landing at Shoreham Airport