|For the past 10 years, airshow performer Steve Culp has been exciting crowds throughout the south and southwest with his beautifully-choreographed, high-energy routine. Evidence of ten-time National Aerobatic Champion Marion Cole is evident in Culp’s every maneuver and with good reason-Cole taught Culp aerobatics, and they became good friends.
In a world of neck-straining vertical flight and redundant snap rolls, Culp stands out. Not only is he one of a few Louisiana performers to have earned a coveted ground waiver, his thrilling act is always centered in front of the crowd at almost eye level. Add to that his current airshow airplane is an aircraft that has not flown in front of crowds since 1917 (and never before in its current beefy incarnation) and the fact that its smoke system can nearly make the field go IFR and you see why Steve is an airshow’s performer of choice.
His Culp’s Sopwith Pup is a big dog with a fine pedigree. It was first flown in World War I over Europe in 1916. It flew with dogged determination and according to one pilot, “exemplary maneuverability.” In fact, after encountering a Sopwith Pup in combat, Manfred von Richthofen----also known as the Red Baron--- was quoted as saying, “We saw at once that the enemy airplane was superior to ours.” Culp has improved greatly on that superiority, trading the 80-hp LeRhone for a 360-hp Vendenyev M-14P radial and a three-bladed MT propeller, giving the pup a go-for-broke 1700 pounds of thrust. This certainly isn’t the Pup your great grandfather built!
Culp’s British-lineage warbird is painted in the very American colors of red, white and blue, the original colors of the C 417 training squadron. The beefed-up Pup is rated for +/- 10 g’s.