Learning To FlyMowing lawns at $5 a pop, it took 8 lawns to buy 1 flying lesson, and at 17 soloed after 6 1/2 hours. But simply following his instructors lessons wasn't enough for Weeks; on his last landing when he soloed he slipped the aircraft in to the landing, causing the instructor to exclaim "I never taught him to do that!" Weeks goal? To get checked out in a Citabria and learn aerobatics. He had already taken a ride in a Stearman where the pilot did 2 loops, followed by Weeks doing 2 loops, then 2 snap rolls - again, followed by Weeks doing 2 snap rolls. An aerobatic pilot was born!
Fate IntervenesKermit's grandfather, Lewis Weeks, was a geologist and after retirement became a consultant for oil companies. Lewis Weeks urged BHP Billiton of Australia to drill in the Bass Straights, 30 miles SE of Melbourne. Instead of a fee he negotiated a royalty of 2.5%; by the mid 70s this royalty amounted to some $3.5M per year. His grandfather shared his good fortune with 11 heirs, and Kermit got his first royalty check when he was a high school senior. This allowed Weeks to buy a Pitts Special while at college, a 2 seater, and he gave rides while building time and flying aerobatics whenever time allowed.
BurnoutBy the start of his sophomore year at Purdue University Weeks wound up with mononucleosis and hepatitis, both of which are highly contagious. He missed the first 2 weeks of school, said 'Screw this. I'm out of here. I want to start flying aerobatics; I want to build my next airplane.' At 23 years of age he headed home and prepared for flying aerobatics. At age 24 Weeks had completed building his Weeks Special which he flew to qualify for the U.S. Aerobatics Team in 1977.
The World Aerobatics ChampionshipsNot only did he design his very own aerobatic aircraft, and at the age of 25 managed to enter his first World Aerobatic Championships in Ceske Budejovice, Czechoslovakia in 1978 with the airplane he designed and built - the "Weeks Special". Of course, back in the 70s we all wanted to look cool, right? Well, as you can see in the picture on the left, Kermit was no different. But don't let the look fool you - he was 2nd overall in the world competing with 61 others from 18 countries, winning 3 silver medals and 1 bronze. "I was hooked," he said. "I was a complete unknown. I surprised myself and all my teammates." On his way home from the championships he began designing the Weeks Solution in which he won the gold medal in the world championships in 1982. During a period of 12 years Weeks was ranked 5 times as one of the world's top 3 aerobatic pilots, and won 20 medals during the World Aerobatic Championship series. Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch! JetAviator7 ps: Don't forget to sign up for our newsletter "All Things Aviation" here!
ps: Read more about aerobatic aircraft at these fine blogs:
World's First Aerobatic Aircraft Featuring Four Electric Motors ... - According to the maker, this airplane has just one seat. Compared to the massive A380, Cri-Cri could be considered a toy. Being the first electric powered, fully aerobatic four engine aircraft, it has caught the attention of the ...
Herb Andersen recognized for his contribution to aviation design ... - “I would like to express my appreciation to the IAC and all those who have recognized by efforts in the production of Pitts Aerobatic Aircraft from my first meeting with Curtis Pitts in 1970 until my retirement in 1993,” said Andersen. ...