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Local Aviator Celebrates 30 Years as Air Boss

The Santa Rosa Island Authority is thrilled to announce that local naval aviator and retired Marine Corps Major Paul Entrekin is celebrating his 30th season as Air Boss of the Pensacola Beach Air Show this year.

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Have you ever wondered who controls the schedule for all the aerial acts, mass formations, high-speed jet demonstrations and pyrotechnics at every show? Enter the Air Boss.

As the Air Boss, Entrekin has the primary responsibility for coordinating all air show operations within the demonstration area and plays a critical role in ensuring a safe, efficient and entertaining air show every year. All of this while also meeting the latest standard air show regulations.

“This occasionally requires herding cats,” said Roy Kinsey, a Pensacola pilot and attorney who is the founder of the Veterans Flight team that flies World War II Stearman biplanes in the Pensacola Beach Air Show.

“Air Boss is a difficult job. In many ways, the beach show is more challenging than other air shows, as coordination is easier when an entire airport is devoted to the show,” furthered Kinsey. “In Paul’s case, the Pensacola Beach Air Show takes place over the Gulf of Mexico, with pilots and aircraft coming from multiple airports.”

A graduate of Auburn University in 1976, Entrekin was commissioned as a U.S. Marine Corps officer in 1977, and designated a Naval Aviator in 1980. During his military career he became carrier qualified, flying both rotary-wing and fixed-wing aircraft.  He was an instructor pilot until leaving active duty in 1986 and then retained reserve status with the Defense Intelligence Agency as a clandestine operative until retiring after Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm in 1991.

No stranger to the air show world nor pushing boundaries, Entrekin soon was nicknamed “The Bandit,” after becoming the first civilian pilot to own and fly a Russian MiG aircraft. He founded Entrekin Aviation as a full-time air show pilot in 1986. He holds multiple U.S. and world airspeed records and is recognized on the National Aviation and Space Exploration Wall of Honor.

Entrekin also flew for Delta Air Lines for 30 years before his retirement, and over the years has authored a number of books including, “Mighty Hands,” his bestseller “Mr. MiG,” and his most recent children’s book entitled, “Jasper and the Christmas Faeries.”

So, this Saturday when the national anthem begins signaling the start of the 2023 Pensacola Beach Air Show, check out the air boss platform located southwest of the Gulfside Pavilion at show center. There you’ll find Paul Entrekin on his headset, just as he has for the past 29 years, working diligently to put on another awe-inspiring air show for tens of thousands of spectators. Be sure to give him a warm salute.

About the Santa Rosa Island Authority

Pensacola Beach is owned by Escambia County, Fla., and is under the direction of the Santa Rosa Island Authority (SRIA). The SRIA was created by the Florida legislature in 1947 under Chapter 24500. The SRIA does not receive tax support from the taxpayers of the county. It is fully funded from lease fees collected from business and residences on the beach. The Island Authority board is made up of six members, five are named by members of the Escambia County Board of Commissioners whose term is the same as the commissioner who appointed them. Registered voters on Pensacola Beach elect the sixth member. The elected member’s term is two years.