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How Does Someone Become A Warbird Pilot?

How does someone become a warbird pilot?

How does someone become the pilot of a warbird? We were asked that question recently. The answer is that there is no set program nor formalized career path that places a pilot in the cockpit of the SNJ Warbird. Mostly it is pilot experience.

One of our warbird pilots is Major Patrick “ManBear” Williams USAF. Before graduating from the Air Force Academy, ManBear was an Alaskan Bush Pilot racking up hundreds of hours flying taildraggers in the Alaskan wilderness. He initially flew F-15E Strike Eagles before being accepted into the exclusive and tight knit Stealth Fighter Community where he began flying the F-22 Raptor. After over a decade flying as an American fighter pilot, he decided to take a break to fly the friendly skies as an airline pilot flying 757s and 767s for Delta Airlines. The Hawaii Air National Guard heard that an exceptional stealth pilot was on the loose and invited him to fly the Raptor in Hawaii, he accepted. ManBear is combat proven, having flown in action against the Taliban and ISIS over Syria and Iraq. When his credentials were presented to the company, ManBear was brought into the Pearl Harbor Warbird fold.

Our other warbird pilot is Lieutenant Colonel Carl “Mooch” Reynoso USMC ret. Mooch started his career as an enlisted Marine Infantryman achieving the rank of Staff Sergeant before accepting a commission as a Marine Second Lieutenant. He flew helicopters in various Light Attack Helicopter squadrons both ashore and afloat aboard naval shipping. He also flew multi engine fixed wing transports and highly classified fixed wing surveillance aircraft. Mooch is battle tested, having flown 531 combat missions in Desert Storm, Iraq, and Afghanistan during multiple tours. When he is not flying the warbird, Mooch flies helicopters for our parent company, Paradise Helicopters.

So as you can see, warbird pilots can come from different career paths. What is important is the flight experience and the skills they learned along the way.


Pearl Harbor Warbirds offers the best Hawai‘i flight adventure tours available. Be immersed in the details of the infamous attack on Pearl Harbor and soar above the important sites that played a part in the “Day of Infamy.” Relive history as you retrace the steps of the Army and Navy airmen in the days following the bombing. Fly on some of the same routes the Japanese attackers used into the airfields at Wheeler, Kāne‘ohe and Bellows. There are many air tours in Hawai‘i, but only one warbird airplane flight. Located in Honolulu, Hawai‘i Pearl Harbor Warbirds provides a personal historical experience making it one of the best O‘ahu attractions.

Experience an immersive two hour adventure that allows you to relive history as a Naval Aviator and fly Pearl Harbor like it was on December 7th, 1941. Learn more about the Admiral’s Warbird Adventure.

Due to the difficulty of finding proper parts the Pearl Harbor Warbird will be out of service until early November
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