Vanguard Squadron

United States
Vanguard Squadron RV-3

The Vanguard Squadron is an US based ethanol powered aerobatic team that has been dazzling airshow crowds since 1985 with their exciting formation performances. Ethanol adds power and performance to the Squadron's aircraft without any major engine modifications. The team has over 3,000 flight hours using 100% ethanol. The Vanguards are available for fly-bys for events such as parades and ground breaking ceremonies. The Squadron flies 6-10 airshow events each year. Flying across the country the team promoting ethanol as the fuel for the future. The Vanguard Squadron home is Tea, SD (Lincoln County Airport) which is very close to the largest city in South Dakota, Sioux Falls.

The formation aerobatic team consists of two F-16 pilots, a former Red Baron display team pilot and Education professional/Commercial Pilot. The team currently has five Vans RV-3's aircraft. Four of the planes have been with the team since 1985 and they just added a new one at the beginning of 2013. The Vanguard display team currently has 9 pilots and 3 of them are Air National Guard pilots.


The pilots that started the squadron were Marv Randall and Earl Hovdness in 1985. The team name came about from the name of the plane (Vans RV-3) and the members (Air National Guard pilots) - Vanguard. There have been over 20 different pilots that have flown with the Vanguards since 1985 and only one member remains since the early days.

The Vanguard Squadron has been ethanol powered since the team began flying together in 1993.

On August 16, 2009, a RV-8 belongs to the team crashed 3 miles west of Tea, South Dakota. The pilot Todd Eslick and the passenger were killed at the spot. The plane performed aerobatic maneuvers as the engine quits and then hit the ground. Todd flew a few air shows with the team and was not a full member. No one really knows what happened but he was giving his friend's son a ride in the RV-8 and for some reason lost control. All the data from the engine instruments tells the plane’s engine was in good condition. Todd was an extremely talented pilot with many flight hours and was currently employed flying corporate jets.

Vanguard Squadron RV-3