Joining Heartland Airshows in 2012, Erin Hardesty is one of the nation’s only female airshow announcers in the business. She brings a level of audience captivating commentary that very few can. As a pilot herself, she knows aviation.
She knows how to grasp and keep the crowd focused on the performers and provides a level of color commentary and background information that very few announcers in this business can do. That is because she spends hours researching the performers and gathering info about the pilots, the planes and the maneuvers they perform.
As an experienced airshow announcer, a licensed pilot and aviation fanatic, Erin has worked closely with an incredibly wide variety and assortment of planes and pilots… from 70 year old WWII Bombers like the B-29 and the B-25; to highly agile and technologically advanced aircraft like Extra 300L’s, the RV-8’s and of course jets (who doesn’t love jets), to an even wider variety of pilots from farmers, military flight instructors, airline pilots of all ages and backgrounds. Regardless of the performer or aircraft, she prepares full biographies on the pilot and aircraft prior to showtime.
When not on the airshow stage, Erin tours the country as a certified crew member with the Commemorative Air Force’s B-29 bomber affectionately named FiFi, the world’s only flying example of the famous WWII bomber. As a result, Erin, being one of kind also, was “given” the nick name or “call-sign” FiFi by the Heartland Airshows crew . During many of her FiFi tour stops, she can be found with microphone in hand educating the public on the aircraft’s rich history and helping to sell rides which allow these airplanes to remain flying for the public to enjoy.
Erin enjoys flying single-engine Pipers, Cessna and any aircraft she can get her hands on. Erin has been flying for almost ten years and loves inspiring young children, especially young girls, to pursue their dream of taking to the skies.
Heartland Airshows announcer Brent BJ Richardson developed a love of aviation very early in life. His father, a retired air traffic controller, encouraged and fueled his passion for aviation. BJ started flying lessons when he was 18 years old and obtained his Private Pilot License shortly thereafter.
About that time, needing to pay for his aviation habit, BJ ventured into the field of broadcasting where he became a radio DJ in 1983 doing morning radio gigs at various stations for 30 years.
BJ has that great radio DJ voice that lends itself to being a perfect fit for enlightening and entertaining the airshow crowd. He has a deep passion for literally anything aviation related, especially airshows and general aviation. His experience as a pilot and a broadcaster makes for a perfect combination on the airshow stage.
He is married to the lovely Kimberly Richardson and recently celebrated his 30 year anniversary.
He and Kim are the proud parents of three; a lovely daughter Misty, and two charming sons, Zachary and Alexander. BJ is extremely proud to have his sons serve our country with one in the Missouri Air National Guard and the other pursuing a Special Forces career in the U.S Army.
At the age of ten, while standing outside the gates watching the MoANG F-4’s, Kalittas DC-8’s and TWA’s B-727’s at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, Gordon knew it was going to be aviation as a life, a career and a passion. Ironically, he started his jump into aviation at the same airport that fueled his desire to slip the surly bonds.
Learning to fly at STL as a zero time pilot sure taught me great radio technique quickly. And how to keep my head on a swivel, know where the DC-9 in front of me rotated for wake turbulence avoidance and how to land an airplane at a very high speed to stay in the mix and not get run over by a 727 on a three mile final and moving fast. One time, a flight of four F-4’s took a wake turbulence hold for me departing in a C-150… Well, not really, but it makes for a great story.
He received his pilot’s license less than six months after graduating high school on December 17, 1976, exactly 73 years after the Wright brothers took their “check-ride”. It’s been a life of aviation ever since. The flying and the passion continued and eventually led him to Parks College of St. Louis University in 1981.
There, in three years, he earned a degree in the aviation sciences and earned his commercial license with an instrument rating single and multi-engine ratings. “There was a little helicopter and a little jet time, but not enough to matter”. Upon graduation, Gordon joined the FAA in 1984 as an Air Traffic Controller and has filled many other positions within the FAA including Public Affairs Specialist, Congressional Liaison, Runway Safety Specialist and currently the FAA’s Regional Emergency Planner.
After 20+ years of airbossing at numerous airshows and announcing at a few others, combined with “crewing” for other airshow performers around the Midwest, Gordon started Heartland Airshows.
Specializing in airshow development and consulting for first time airshows and small venue events started off as favor for a friend to help a friend who had some friends that wanted to start an airshow.
After realizing the impact his services had on numerous smaller scale airshows that become incredibly successful, and the fact that no other airshow “firm” wanted to specialize in the relatively low-budget aspect of small shows, the decision to focus on this niche of the industry was made. A decision he has yet to regret.