On a sunny Sunday morning, when spring has finally arrived, we take the drive toward to Half Moon Bay, Calif.
We are winding down the road with all the tourists, surfers, and sun worshippers when a curly smoke trail becomes visible in the sky. It is definitely not a contrail.
It is Eddie Andreini flying his new P-51 Mustang, equipped with a brand new smoke system.
As we arrive at the Half Moon Bay airport, Eddie is just about to land, taxi straight to the fuel pump and we meet him climbing out of his plane.
There are many admirers on the patio of the coffee shop. But we are invited to learn more about Eddie Andreini, and of Eddie Andreini Airshows.
Eddie is very proud of his heritage. His father immigrated to the United States in 1922 as a 16 year old.
From Lucca, Italy, Eddie says proudly. He began working with his uncle in Oakland and eventually became a farmer in Half Moon Bay, where Eddie’s entire family still resides and works together. Eddie began to work in the family farming business when he was very young.
He earned money for his work on the farm after school and weekends. This allowed him to purchase a car, before he even had a driver’s license. It’s in the same way that he bought his first plane.
Eddie’s passion for flying began early, during his high school years. He was 16 when he bought his first plane — an L2 Taylorcraft, in pieces. It was 1965.
In order to take lessons, he needed his parents’ approval. He knew that his father’s old fashioned home-country traditions would never formally allow him to sign a waiver to take flying lessons.
So Eddie instead asked for his father’s waiver signature as if it was a document required for school.
Once Eddie was airborne, the rest is history. He has become one of the most acclaimed pilots on the air show circuit.
One of the highest honors for his “PhD” in aerobatic flying was receiving the coveted FAA Ground Level Unlimited Waiver. Eddie also holds commercial, single-, multi-engine, and instrument ratings, and has accumulated easily 10,000 hours flying in a diverse range of aircraft.
His latest prize is a P-51 Mustang. Shiny, with a history of old WW-II Europe. A proud Italian name “Primo Branco,” meaning “Top of the Class” “Mustang” — a horse with primo horsepower in this case. He names all of his planes based on a piece of history they came from.
Eddie still owns his Yak-9U, named “Barbarossa,” and of course the big “bull” Stearman.
This year Eddie has 10 airshows booked. He keeps going because “it is just such fun,” he says. He has always been ambitious, for Eddie used to perform at 18-20 airshows each year, including in Truckee for many years, and would park his airplane somewhere central, so he could easily get his plane to Alaska, Canada, and other far flung locations from a central locale. Today, he keeps closer to home – preferring to fly at local smaller airshows, like the Truckee Air Fair and Family Festival. He flies the plane himself into each venue, and most of the time has his mechanic fly one of his other planes to display as well.
The ‘Super’ Stearman
Eddie began flying a “stock” 225-hp Stearman, which he flew the longest since 1964, quickly extracting the maximum horsepower from this big bi-plane and adding aerobatic refinements.
Twenty years later he purchased another Stearman which turned out to be a sister ship. The big biplane was painstakingly transformed into today’s gleaming 3,000 lb, 450-hp. “Super” Stearman.
Witness an old-fashioned barnstorming experience second to none. From the double roll take off, to the unequalled 40 foot inverted ribbon cutting, keep up with his thundering performance in a tight 2,000 foot airbox.
Eddie’s performance in his Super Stearman is twice the power, three times the size, four times the smoke, and five times the decibels, as Eddie shows you his more than 40 years of skill and experience with these magnificent flying machines.
His performance will thrill and exhilarate this coming July 6 at the Truckee Air Fair and Family Festival. Nobody appreciates family events better than Eddie Andreini. His son, also named Eddie, also flies a Yak 9U named “Ottobre Rosso” or Red October, kept in a hangar nearby. When asked if his grandchildren take an interest in flying and aerobatics, he leaves that decision to make for themselves.
He believes that it is a very personal thing and that they have to make up their own mind, whether they follow in his and his sons’ footsteps.
Before we leave after a great afternoon at Eddie Andreini Airshows, we visit the office he still keeps at Andreini Brothers Construction.
Eddie might be modest about his involvement in the company, but he has several topographical maps awaiting his evaluation and planning — the most recent is dredging a channel through the Pescadero slough.
Meeting Eddie Andreini is very humbling. He might be ambitious with a love for all machines. He is the most low-key over-achiever you may ever meet. Come meet him this July 6 at the Truckee Tahoe Airport.