Jerry Conley has performed in Battle Creek before (back in 2010 in his Viper 29 as part of the “Red Star & The Dragon” act), but he will be bringing a rare and historic aircraft to BC for the first time! The deHavilland DH-115 Vampire was the World’s FIRST Single Engine Jet Fighter. Development of the aircraft began during the Second World War in 1943 as an aircraft suitable for combat that harnessed the new innovation of jet propulsion; it was quickly decided to opt for a single-engine, twin-boom aircraft equipped with the Halford H.1 turbojet engine, which was later known as the deHavilland Goblin. Originally ordered as an experimental aircraft only, the decision to mass-produce the aircraft as an interceptor for the Royal Air Force (RAF) was finalized in May 1944. In 1946, the first production aircraft entered service with the RAF, months after the conflict had come to a close. The Vampire was the second jet fighter, after the Gloster Meteor, operated by the RAF, and it was the service's first to be powered by a single jet engine. The Vampire was quickly used to replace many wartime piston-engine fighter aircraft. The RAF operated it as a front-line fighter until 1953. About 3,300 Vampires were manufactured. Today, very few remain and they are even more rare to see perform in the United States. We will have one of the best looking Vampires out there performing during our 2018 show.
Jerry “Vlad” Conley is chief pilot and the President of Vampire Aviation, LLC. His flying career started at 8 years old when he got a kids book titled “Jerry the Jet” and the rest is history. Jerry holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from The Florida State University, College of Engineering. He graduated in the top of his class and was chosen to present his class’s Senior Aerospace design project for NASA/USRA at NASA. Jerry then entered military service and is proud to have served our country. After service, he served as the CEO of Wildcat Fuels, Inc. for 25 years before selling his company in 2013 to pursue airshows full time. He has performed at airshows across the country flying high performance jet aircraft for over 13 years. He will be making his second appearance in Battle Creek and the first time in the Vampire.
The Vampire is an extremely historic aircraft that set a lot of records that deserves its place in history. The Vampire was the first single engine jet fighter to take off and land on a carrier. It was also the first RAF jet fighter with a top speed in excess of 500 mph. It was the first jet aircraft to fly across the Atlantic Ocean when six Vampires of No. 54 Squadron arrived in Goose Bay, Labrador. Don’t miss Jerry Conley performing an amazing aerobatic display, complete with a terrific smoke system in this rare and historic aircraft during our June 30-July 1 Air Show in 2018.