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East Team

East Coast Aircraft - SNJ-2

The SNJ, by North American Aviation, a two-place advanced trainer, was the classroom for most of the Allied pilots who flew in World War II. Called the T-6 Texan by the Army Aircorp, the Harvard by the RAF, and affectionately known as "the pilot maker" by its crews, the SNJ was designed as a transition trainer between basic trainers and first-line tactical aircraft.

In all, the SNJ trained several hundred thousand pilots in 34 different countries. A total of 15,495 of the planes were made. Though most famous as a trainer, the SNJ also won honors in World War II and in the early days of the Korean War.

This remarkable and versatile aircraft was an evolution of the company's BC-1 basic combat trainer, which was first produced for the U.S. Army Air Corps with fixed landing gear in 1937 under a contract that called for 174 planes. It was designed by North American as a low-cost trainer with all the characteristics of a high-speed fighter. Although not as fast as a fighter, it was easy to maintain and repair, had more maneuverability and was easier to handle. A pilot's airplane, it could roll, Immelmann, loop, spin, snap, and vertical roll. It was designed to give the best possible training in all types of tactics, from ground strafing to bombardment and aerial dog-fighting, and contained such versatile equipment as bomb racks, blind flying instrumentation, gun and standard cameras, fixed and flexible guns, and just about every other device that military pilots had to operate. The Skytypers of New York operate the SNJ-2 version, which is the only model with the enlarged, 180 gallon fuel tank, allowing the skytypers to operate for over four hours, skytyping messages throughout the day. In addition, the aircraft is eight inches shorter than the other variants, has a bigger, round rudder, and a non-steerable tail wheel. There are only eleven of these airplanes in the world, and the Skytypers have six of them.


Dimensions: Span: 42 feet 1/4 inch; Length: 28 feet 11-7/8 inches.
Seating: Tandem.
Engine: Pratt & Whitney Wasp R-1340-AN-1 550-horsepower, air-cooled.
Speed: 205 mph (TAS) at 5,000 feet; climb speed-140 mph; approach speed-110 mph; stall speed (clean)-74 mph.
Crew: Two pilots, flown solo from the front cockpit only.
Nicknames: Pilot Maker; Old Growler (USA); Window Breaker (UK); Mosquito (Korean War USAF LT-6G Forward Air Control aircraft); J-Bird (SNJ)

Our East Coast Team Pilots

Larry Arken

Squadron Commander
Larry Arken resides in Greenlawn, New York, and is a captain with American Airlines. He has been flying since he was a child sitting in the co-pilot seat behind his father, Mort. Larry, a New York native, has a bachelor's degree in marketing from Queens College as well as a bachelor's degree in business from Edison State University.

He began his career flying warbirds and corporate jets while growing up in New York. Flying Falcon 10's, 20's and 50's, he later flew DC-8's for UPS before flying with American.

The consummate aviator, he presently flies a P-47, F4U and P-51 for the Air Power Museum in Farmingdale, NY. Larry also holds a NATA designation as a formation check pilot. Larry recently stated that he would some day like to fly the Space Shuttle.

Steve Salmirs

Executive Officer
I had an interest in aviation from an early age. My father worked for NASA in Newport News, VA. as an aeronautical engineer, and introduced me to flight in 1973. After attending William and Mary College for two years, I transferred to Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida to earn my degree while accumulating flight time and ratings. Graduating in 1980, I went to work at Kennedy Space Center as a Calibration Engineer, flying charters and flight instructing on the side. In 1982, I was accepted into the USAF, earned my wings, flew F-16 fighters for five years, and instructed in T-37s for three more. Presently a copilot on the B777 for a major airline, I continue to fly general aviation as much as I can. I am a NATA formation Lead Pilot and instructor, as well as the unoffical publications, standardization, and operations procedures writer for the Skytypers. The Skytypers have flown with me since 1995, and I consider it an honor to call all the pilots and mechanics my friends!

Bob Johansen

Flight Leader
An early interest in aviation led Bob to flying lessons at age 17 using 65 hp. Aeronca "Champs" out of a grass strip near Detroit. He got his private license in 1958 and flew as much as he could afford through college. Being subject to the draft and unable to get a real job until his military obligation was satisfied, he decided to "Fly Navy" for five years, gaining multiengine, instrument, and carrier experience. Shipboard duty was interesting, but a Navy career doesn't really provide a long flying span, so he moved on to airline flying in 1966. In 1977, a friend introduced Bob to the Skytypers, flying Navy SNJ2 trainers out of Flushing Airport, a small airstrip next to LGA. Thus began a new career with Mort and Larry Arken, doing aerial advertising and airshows. The camaraderie and professionalism associated with the group as well as the pleasure of operating these "taildragging" workhorses of the WWII era with their 600 hp. "round" engines keeps the older guys young.

Steve Kapur

Pilot, Marketing Director
Steve currently lives in Bridgeville, Pa., and has a commercial pilot's license and is a flight instructor. A New Jersey native, he has a bachelor's degree in marketing from St. Norbert College and a master's degree in marketing from Marquette University. Here is a laundry list of just a few of Steve's achievements: -Marketing professional with 20+ years of success. -Sponsorship marketing and sales for the Skytypers Flight Demo Team -Packaged goods airshow marketing for Kraft Foods and GlaxoSmithKline -Aviation credentials include Com, CFI, NATA formation card, airshow performer. -Association affiliations include AOPA, EAA, NATA, & Tailhook Assoc."

Tom Daly

Tom grew up on the south shore of Long Island, New York where he went on his first airplane ride at eight years old. He took his first flying lesson at Zahns Airport in 1967. He received his Bachelors Degree from Dowling College's first official Aeronautics class of 1971 and his Masters Degree from CW Post College in Criminal Justice. After college he became a special education teacher at the elementary level in Nassau County.

In pursuit of his aviation goals Tom joined the Nassau County Police Department and has flown a police helicopter for over thirty years. His rescue and police related efforts have earned him awards for heroism from Helicopter Association International, Aviation and Space Writer's Association, and the FAA. He has also received two Congressional awards.

Rob Steo

A graduate of Manhattan College, and a former Air Force jet pilot, Rob has seen the world a couple of times over, with more hours logged than he cares to admit. As a captain for a major airline he flies with the Skytypers on the weekends to hang out with the guys, keep his skills sharp, and have more fun than most people dream of. Rob is a Brooklyn native, loves "typing" over his old stomping grounds, and still can remember the "COPPERTONE" ad the Skytypers did 30 years ago. How's that for a lasting impression!

"I still can't believe I actually fly with these guys!"

Ken Johansen

Ken Johansen first flew with the Skytypers as an eight year old. He'd already caught the aviation bug from his father, Skytyping Instructor Pilot Bob Johansen, and this flight sealed his fate. Ken graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1989 and earned his Navy Wings in 1991. He went on to fly P3's on both coasts with VP23 and VP46. His career took him to the Netherlands where he flew P3's with the Royal Netherlands Navy from 1996 to 1998. Ken left the active duty Navy and was hired by TWA where he flew MD80's, B757's and B767's, he was also hired by VR52 in Willow Grove Pennsylvania as a Navy Reserve Pilot flying DC9's around the world. Ken enjoys flying Aeronca Champs, Citabrias and Stearmans out of a small grass strip in Northern Pennsylvania with his two sons.

"Flying with the Skytypers has brought my flying career full circle and I consider being a part of this group of professionals an honor and a privilege"

Jim Record

Jim is a native NY’er born in Brooklyn and grew up in the Cradle of Aviation, Long Island. After becoming an Eagle Scout, he was bitten by the ‘flying bug’ and started lessons at Zahn’s Airport with the CAP, later qualifying for his pilot licenses at Islip Mac Arthur Airport. Jim earned his Bachelors Degree in Aeronautics from Adelphi Suffolk University, later Dowling College.

Recruited into United States Navy at Floyd Bennett Field. Jim soon earned the coveted Wings of Gold of a Naval Aviator. He was in one of the last classes to carrier qualify in the venerable single seat Grumman F-9F ‘Cougar”, finishing up his naval career flying the A-4 ‘Skyhawk’. LCDR Record served as an IP in formation, gunnery, carrier landings and frequent long cross countries. Jim began his love of flying radial engines courtesy of the Navy T-28 ‘Trojan’ and S-2 ‘COD’ . That affection continues today with the Skytyper SNJ’s.

After leaving the Navy, Jim flew corporate before joining the wonderful world of Airline flying. He flew the Douglas DC-9, Boeing 757, 747-400 and Airbus A-330 worldwide before recently retiring from a major airline. He now splits his flying time between WW1 fighters, antique biplanes and Skytyping.

“Flying with Mort, Larry and my fellow Skytypers is about as good as it gets in civil aviation.”

Pilot Positions Available

Part time positions are available for qualified pilots looking for the unique opportunity of flying with The Skytypers.

Requirements include:

  • Prior military flying experience, including extensive formation.

  • Minimum 3000 hours total time.

  • Commercial/Instrument rating.

  • Extensive tailwheel experience.

  • Must be located within 50 miles of the Farmingdale, NY airport. (map).

Applicants will be required to pay for training, and there is no guarantee, expressed of implied, that a job offer will be forthcoming upon completion of any training.

The majority of flying is done on the weekends during the summer months. Contact Larry Arken for details.