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Matt's History | Bobby's History

Matt's History

Matt Younkin is a third generation pilot. He is the son of legendary airshow pilot Bobby Younkin, who is famous for his amazing aerobatic displays in the AT-6, Beech 18, Learjet 23, Samson, and most recently, the Super Decathlon. Bobby is considered to be one of the greatest airshow pilots of all time.

Matt is also the grandson of Jim Younkin who is well-known for designing the Century and Trutrak autopilots. Jim is also famous for his antique aircraft restorations, as well as building beautiful replicas of the 1930’s air racers such as the Howard “Mr. Mulligan” and the Travel Air “Mystery Ship.”

Matt learned to fly at the age of 14 from family friend Ken Collier in a Piper J-3 Cub. At age 15, Chuck Irvin, the same instructor who taught Bobby how to fly, refined Matt’s piloting skills. On his sixteenth birthday, Matt soloed his grandfather’s 1928 Travel Air 4000 biplane.

Matt is now proficient in over 80 types of airplanes ranging from the Piper Cub to the North American B-29. He is also a fully rated flight instructor and now has almost 4000 hours of total flying time and currently resides in Siloam Springs, AR.

Matt is also an accomplished radio-controlled model airplane pilot. Like his father before him, Matt learned most of his aerobatic skills by flying R/C models and later refined them in the Super Decathlon.

Bobby gave Matt two hours of aerobatic instruction which focused mainly on slow rolls. Bobby said, “Almost every aerobatic maneuver is based on a slow roll. If you can master the slow roll, you can master anything.”

When Matt took the Decathlon out to perfect his slow rolls, he soon discovered that he could perform every maneuver that Bobby performed in the airplane, plus a few new ones of his own.

Matt’s latest and greatest achievement is perfecting the world’s only night aerobatic display in the Beech 18. Equipped with 17 spotlights and 13 strobes, the top airplane appears to glow in the dark while the bottom side twinkles violently. Combined with smoke, noise, choreography, and an incredible musical score, the Twin Beech Night Spectacular is quickly becoming one of the most sought after acts in the airshow arena.

Matt is also performing the daytime aerobatic display in the Beech 18 that his father Bobby perfected so many years ago. By lacking the intensity night show,
this display has been described by many as “the most graceful and beautiful performance the airshow industry has to offer.”

Bobby always said, “An airshow act must be unique and original to be successful. People come to airshows to see the impossible take place.” Matt is keeping with the Younkin Airshows tradition by performing unique aerobatics in precision aircraft and precision aerobatics in unique aircraft.

 

Matt and Jeanie

Matt Younkin at age 24 pictured with his mother, Jeanie, at his first airshow in Fairview, OK.

Matt and Amanda

Matt and sister Amanda Franklin

Matt and Michelle Younkin

Matt and wife Michelle

Matt and Ugly Stik model

With his favorite ugly stik model

Matt in mystery ship cockpit

in the cockpit of the "Mystery Ship"

Bobby's History

Bobby Younkin had flown aerobatics since he was 16. He realized in his very first solo flight that he could do it, using the skills he had already learned flying radio controlled model planes.

"I just had to orient myself to being in the air instead of on the ground watching," Bobby said. Later, he honed his skills under the guidance of world famous aerobatics pilot Duane Cole.

Every year, Bobby performed at air shows throughout the nation.

The Arkansas native considered himself a working class pilot, relying on the skills he had needed to succeed - daring, ingenuity and hard work.

Bobby gave audiences their money's worth with his fast-paced shows. His acts combined continuous action and tight control with high-powered smoke and noise to deliver a performance that kept all heads turned up.

Bobby's latest act was a Learjet 23, an aircraft never intended for aerobatic use. Designed as a corporate jet, the Lear was built to haul wealthy clients around in comfort and style. He had to receive special approval from the FAA to fly the jet in air shows, approval based on his track record as a pilot. Bobby pushed the aircraft to its limits by performing a full aerobatic routine in his Lear, the ninth one ever built.

The Learjet's acceleration and climb made it the highest performing air show plane in civilian hands. Bobby delivered a smooth, graceful show while keeping the jet in close proximity to the crowd.

The sleek craft, painted a high-gloss red and black, reaches 400 mph and soars 6,500 feet above the earth during Bobby's performance. Two turbo jet engines produce 2,850 pounds of thrust each.

Bobby's shows are unique, said John Cudahy, president of the International Council of Air Shows. The pilot has both factors needed to make an air show act stand out - quality of showmanship and expertise as a pilot.

"Bobby is at the top of both lists," said Cudahy, who called the pilot a treasure of the business. "He knows how to push the envelope without getting dangerous, how to maximize his aircraft's potential. He is a skilled flyer with a sense of what gets audiences excited.”

Bobby, 49, grew up in an era when pilots expressed their personalities through their planes, modifying aircraft such as the Stearman and the Chipmunk for aerobatics. The emphasis on individualism made an impact on Bobby. He has carried the tradition on with one-of-a-kind planes of his own.

"You know you're onto a good air show act when everyone starts telling you you're crazy," Bobby said. That happened when he bought the Learjet and it happened with an earlier air show success - a Beechcraft Model 18.

Bobby had had the idea some time ago, while flying freight in a Twin Beech, to use the aircraft for aerobatics. In 1989, he found just the right one and modified it for show.

"Aerobatics is kind of like an aerial circus," Bobby believes. "People come to shows to see the impossible.”

Bobby achieved national success with the Twin Beech. He followed that up a few years later flying SAMSON, a replica of the famous 1940's air show plane built by Curtis Pitts. Steve and Liz Wolf's recreation is "overly blessed with power," Bobby said, delivering a big show.

Bobby bought an African lion cub a few months after launching his act in SAMSON. The cub had the same personality as the biplane - big, loud, and aggressive - so Bobby named the lion after the plane.

Samson the lion lived with Bobby and his family near Springdale, Arkansas. The big cat flew once, when Bobby brought him home as a cub, but since that time the lion has remained grounded.

Bobby has performed in hundreds of air shows from coast to coast and has logged more than 15,000 hours in his 30-year career. He owned a charter business and airfreight service as well as performing aerobatics.

Although sometimes Bobby wished he could trade the cockpit of his performing plane for the seat of a ride-around lawn mover, being in the sky brought a pay-off nothing can match.

There's nothing more exhilarating than the feel of the acceleration," Bobby said of his Learjet. "It is so satisfying, no matter how many times I do it.”

 

 

Bobby and mother

Bobby Younkin at age 18 pictured with his mother at his first airshow in Siloam Springs, AR. He learned to fly and learned aerobatics in this Decathlon.

Bobby and Jeanie

Bobby and wife Jeanie

Matt and Bobby

Bobby and Matt

Bobby in Samson cockpit

in the cockpit of Samson

Bobby and Lear 23

Bobby and the Lear 23

Bobby with Samson the Lion

with Samson

Samson

Samson