The Hoppers lost a member of their air show team when his aircraft crashed at the Quad City Air Show Saturday, September 1, 2012.
The Hoppers are private people who donate their own time and money to fly single-engine L-39 Albatros jets, built in Czechoslavakia and used by Russia and many Eastern Bloc countries. They exhibit the jets at air shows to educate children and the general public about the military and their aircraft.
Some members also fly as part of The Hoppers Fightertour group who fly Mig-17 Frescos, and F-86 Sabre and an A-4 Skyhawk. That group demonstrates those planes from countries which were formerly at odds with the United States.
They are supported by organizations like the Warbird Heritage Foundation, dedicated to showcasing historic military aircraft.
“Hoppy,” their mascot, and seven men make up The Hoppers team. Tim “Dawg” Brutsche, from Michigan, has flown 50 different kinds of planes. Steve “Puck” Kirik is a United Airlines pilot based in Chicago. David “Mildred” Mills owns Mills Chevrolet and lives in Moline, Illinois. Glenn “Skids” Smith is from Frisco, Texas and he is the newest member of The Hoppers; he holds a commercial pilot’s license and founded an IT company that contracts to local governments. David “Hack” Sullivan is a medical device entrepreneur and a qualified lead formation pilot from the Minneapolis, Minnesota area. Paul “Grasshopper” Wood is also a qualified formation lead who lives in Lake Forest, Illinois.