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Wildfire's team combines many years of experience in the design, construction, modification, maintenance and operation of high performance aircraft.

William H. Statler
1917 - 2005


Mr. Statler, a Skunk Works engineer, was formerly with the Lockheed Aircraft Company (California) where he was Director of Science and Engineering and supervised all research, development, design, prototyping and certification of aircraft through the L-1011 Tristar. Starting his career with Lockheed in 1940, he was involved in all aspects of aircraft design, research, flight test and certification. He is the holder of seven design patents in connection with the C-130, Jetstar, C-5, Electra, SST, helicopters and others. He has authored more than thirty technical articles published in various journals in four countries. Bill has a B.S.M.E. degree in aeronautics from Carnegie Institute of Technology and has been involved in the design and modification of air racers for more than 50 years.

William Statler, Jr.


Bill Statler (Jr) retired from Lockheed Martin Skunk Works and Northrop Grumman in June 2007.

He began his career at Lockheed in 1972, and has worked on various projects as the S-3A, P-3C, F-117 Stealth, C-130, U-2, SR-71, F-35 and the F-22 as an engineer and manager, with experience in mass properties, structures, flight test and maintenance training development. Bill was also a Design Specialist for Northrop Grumman on the B-2 Stealth Bomber Flight Test Program for five years. He holds a B.S. degree in Maintenance Engineering from Northrop Institute of Technology. Bill has been involved with WWII aircraft modifications/restorations as well as racing aircraft for over 40 years.

Got involved in air racing at the age of seven when he accompanied his dad, mom and two year old brother Rich to the Cleveland Air Races and watched the Goodyear racers that his dad designed and built (#94 and #31) compete.

Richard Statler


Richard has over 20 years of national and international experience in the development of large-scale wireless communication systems. He currently represents Mobilitie LLC as Vice-President of Services. Mobilitie LLC is the largest privately owned provider of telecommunications infrastructure solutions in the United States. In addition to starting several companies, he has also served in senior management positions with AT&T, Air Touch International, Nextel Communications, OmniAmerica Development Corporation, America Tower Corporation and Alcoa Wireless. His international experience consists of having served for two years as Regional Director of Operations for Airtouch International, now Verizon Wireless, in two separate regions of Europe. He is a graduate of California State University, Northridge and earned his MBA from Pepperdine University. He resides is Laguna Niguel, California.

“You miss 100% of the shots you don't take”. Wayne Gretzky

Tom Johnson


Tom currently owns a landscaping company in the San Francisco area. He was previously with National Airmotive Corp., as an engine test cell operator for seven years. Tom was also a powerplant technician with United Air Lines. As a technician for California Engine Service, he specialized in Pratt & Whitney R-2800 engines. Tom was also a powerplant mechanic in the U.S. Navy and a graduate of the College of Alameda Air Facility where he was also an instructor.

Gregory Benson

Assistant Crew Chief/Structures/QA

Greg is currently Associate Manager for Operations working for Lockheed Martin Technical Operations Co. at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Ca. He has been involved in all operations of missile ground support as a Mechanical Technician and Inspector for almost 15 years. Previously, Greg was a sheet metal mechanic for Trans World Airlines for almost ten years. He has been involved in the modification and fabrication of air racers for over 25 years and been a licensed A&P mechanic for thirty years.

Dennis Wittman

Assistant Crew Chief

General Maintenance/Photographer

Dennis has been employed by Cal-Tech for the past 30 years working with the University or on special NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory projects, including the Viking Mars landers, Voyager, Infrared Astronomical satellite and currently the Space Infrared Telescope Facility (SIRTF). He is a Senior Systems Analyst and has been supporting NASA's astronomical science research center, IPAC since 1985. Dennis earned a degree in Computer Science from Cal-Poly, San Luis Obispo. He owns a 1946 Globe Swift aircraft which he has restored from a basket case while also working on Wildfire. Dennis has crewed on several air racers since 1975.

Paul Novacek


Paul is currently the VP of Development for ElectronicFlight Solutions where he creates computer-based training programs for avionics. He previously was a Principle Investigator on various Human Factors research projects related to advanced cockpit technology for NASA-Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. Paul has been an avionics technician/system designer/A&P/avionics test pilot for 23 years, working for Raytheon Aircraft, various avionics shops and completion centers. He is an active Master Flight Instructor and aviation journalist for many aviation magazines. Paul holds a B.S. degree in avionics, and an M.S. degree in Human Factors from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He has been involved in various aircraft restorations for 20 years.

Greg Austin

Crew Member

Small business owner and holder of an FAA Airframe and Powerplant Certificate. Greg has an extensive background in auto racing, both as a mechanic and driver.

Martin J. King, Sr.

Crew Member

Marty started his carburetor career in 1984 at Precision Air in Miami, Florida under the supervision of Gene Wrigley and retired Bendix engineer Gerry Church where he was employed to service and overhaul everything from float carburetors to pressure injection carburetors. In 1989, he went to work with Bill Rivenbark at Southeast Fuel Systems in Rockledge, Florida where he continued his training and developed his expertise in the overhaul process. In 2003, he partnered with Mike Nixon to start Vintage Carburetors, Inc. in Tehachapi, California where he is presently managing the certified 145 repair station.

Matt Jackson

Test Pilot / Crew Member / Systems Specialist

-A&P Mechanic with Inspection Authorization

-Commercial Multi Instrument Pilot 31 type ratings 11,000

-TTAuthorized Aircraft Instructor

-Reno Pilot Unlimited Division

In aviation since birth, Matt first started flying at age 12 at Van Nuys CA. with Flight Instructor Henry Smull.  He worked at his father's general aviation engine shop, Pacific Continental Engines, after school and every summer.  In 1978, fresh out of high school, he started his own business Classic Airworks, now located at Whiteman Airport Pacoima CA.  Matt was introduced to warbirds by Merlin Engine Builder and Drag car engine builder/legend David Zeuchel.  His first Warbird flown was a P51 Mustang called Cotton Mouth, owned by Jerry & Diana Janes. He attended the first Reno Air Race with father & crewed Cosmic Wind Little Tony. (Has only missed 4 races since) In 1980, Matt started working in the pits as a mechanic on Jennie Race 69, Team Stiletto 1984, RWR racing 1989 and first raced as a pilot in 1989 for RWR Racing; piloting a P51 called No Business.  Currently, Matt has raced more unlimited aircraft then any other flying race pilot at Reno. Now a pilot for Sanders Aircraft flying the Mighty Dreadnought Race #8, he is slated to race Hawker Sea Fury called Furias in Reno 2011. Matt is a long time friend of the Statler family and is happy to be helping out the Wild Fire Team as consultant, sheet metal fabricator, system specialist and Test Pilot.

Mark Roberts

Crew Member

Lifetime airplane enthusiast, pilot, sheet metal contractor... "living the dream."

Karl Lewis

Crew Member

Karl has been involved in military aviation for more than 30 years. He recently retired from the United States Air Force after serving in the military for 24+ years.

He has worked on a number of military programs and projects that have included work as a B-2 Fuel systems Test engineer, Operational Systems Test Engineer/Flight test engineer, and Project/Program Test manager at Edwards AFB.

His military experience started in 1976 as an enlisted crewchief and continued on to serve as a Chief Intelligence officer in the Navy and Air Force which culminated in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. His military career concluded in 2010 as the Chief of Public affairs of a Air Force Reserve Fighter Wing. Karl is a certified subject matter expert in aircraft operations, recognition, tactics, aircraft systems, and history. He has worked as an air show narrator at the Fox Field (Lancaster, Calif.) Air Show/Air Races (1996, 1997), Laughlin (Nev.) Air show/Air Races (1997) Edwards Air Force Base (1998-2006), March Joint Reserve Base (2006) and at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth (2008). Karl was awarded the Air Force Achievement medal for his contribution at the 2003 Air Force Air Show/Open House. He is a conceptual aerospace artist/designer and holds a private pilot's certificate. He and has had the opportunity to fly aircraft that have ranged from gliders to supersonic jets and has owned his own experimental aircraft, a VariEze.

Danny Jackson

Crew Member

Student and aviation enthusiast.



Tyler Crispin

Web Master

Tyler began his career in aviation in 1996 at SkyWest Airlines, Santa Maria. He worked as a cross utilized agent, learning the functions of a major airline carrier. He was promoted to facility manager of LAX in 1999, where he supervised the construction of the SkyWest Airlines Cargo building. It was at this time Tyler gained the knowledge of federal aviation regulations, network infrastructures, and telecommunications. Currently, he is a Senior Networking Systems Analyst at Indyne, Inc. located on Vandenberg Air Force Base.  His primary responsibilities include: Network Core Transport, voice, video and data transmission, launch facility signaling, and missile defense support. He lives in Lompoc, CA. with his wife Kristi and daughter Lexi.

Team Engineering Consultants

Pete Law

Ralph Wise

There are many more fine engineers and technicians that have helped over the years with the Wildfire project - too many to mention, but all appreciated.

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