Joe "Rifle" Shetterly

Joe Rifle Shetterly

There are few pilots on this planet who like to cheat gravity more than JOE SHETTERLY… This guy flat out loves to fly! And since his first lesson as a toddler, perched on thick pillows in a snug cockpit next to his father, Greg … well, he’s been finding creative ways to break contact with terra firma literally all – his – life.

With limited opportunities to fly full-scale airplanes as a young boy, Joe built and flew gas-powered control-line models – something generations of Shetterly boys had enjoyed before him. Soon he was winning radio-controlled aircraft competitions, performing many of the maneuvers that you can see him perform at air shows across North America today. Only now, you might say, he’s got more skin in the game.

Not surprisingly, Joe soloed an airplane at his first legal opportunity: his 16th Birthday. Meeting the FAA minimum age requirement, he earned his private pilot’s license at just 17, while still a teenager, Joe began competing in aerobatics!

While earning an undergraduate degree in Engineering at the University of Kansas, Joe worked as a full-time flight instructor to help pay his way through school.

After graduating, his passion for flying led him to the Air Force where he continues to serve. He was selected to fly his dream machine: the venerable A-10 Thunderbolt II (the Warthog!). While stationed in Tucson, AZ, Joe’s fighter pilot buddies gave him the call-sign “Rifle.”

In 2009, Rifle earned a Master of Aeronautical Science degree from Embry Riddle, and was selected as the Air Force’s A-10 Demonstration Pilot flying nearly 250 aerobatic demonstrations and USAF Heritage Flight Formations in the U.S. and abroad.

Rifle currently flies the Boeing 757 and 767 for a major airline and continues to serve as an A-10 instructor pilot in the Air Force Reserve. He holds an Air Transport Pilot Certificate with commercial privileges in gliders, single-engine, and multi-engine airplanes and has logged more than 7000 hours in 140+ different makes and models to date, with 2500+ in the A-10, and 1700+ as a civilian flight instructor. Rifle has test flown – performed the very first flights – in 6 different experimental aircraft!

The Rifle Airshows’ RV-8 is a highly polished member of the most prolific family of homebuilt aircraft ever made. N76540 is a beautifully built example with a unique history. The N-number tells the story of the builder (Eugene Gaddis) who served as a fighter pilot in the United States Air Force. The N-number stands for the jets that Gene flew during his time as a military aviator: 7 is for A-7, 6 – F106, 5 – F5, 4 – F104, and 0 represents the F-100 and the A-10.

The meaning behind “N76540”

In 2009 (while deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom) Rifle heard of Gene’s passing and that his airplane would be available for purchase. As an A-10 pilot, the idea of owning/flying an airplane that was built by someone who flew as part of the original A-10 test team was very appealing. The fact that N76540 was built straight, light, and flies like a dream made it an easy choice.

Joe hopes that his air show performances might spark an interest in aviation.