• Category Archives Articles
  • Masters of fire!

    Bill Corbett, Scott Key is my crew/pyro partnerDSC_0428
    > Location: Memphis, TN
    > Occupation: Manager of Airfield Maintenance
    > Pyro Companies worked for: Pyro Productions, High-Tech Special Effects, Pyro Engineering & Pyro Shows
    > Years in the pyro industry: 11
    > Pyrotechnic Specialty: 1.3 displays, pyro special effects & large outdoor fireballs
    > Favorite Pyro Events: PGI Convention & the St. Louis Shoot
    > How many St Louis Shoots attended: three
    > Your favorite pyro video (link) 2012 PGI Mini Nuke.

    > At what age did you shoot your first fireball, and what got you hooked on the effect? 42, it was simply a great effect that was easy to do.
    > What is the highest profile event you have worked? I have worked several grade B movies blowing up vehicles & barns. They are always fun because you do your job in a few days and you get to go home. Junk Yard Dog & Way Far Gone are a couple of the movies.
    > How many gallons of fuel would you estimate you have sent skyward in your career? Wow, I’ve never thought about how many gallons I’ve shot. Easily over 3,000.  (STL Note: At today’s fuel prices thats about $10,000.00 !)
    > What is the single largest fireball you have created? My award winning “Mini Nuke” at the PGI Convention in 2012. It consisted of 300 pounds of powdered material & 180 gallons of gasoline.
    > At Past St Louis Shoots you have done a massive train wreck, simulated bombing runs, any teasers for whats in store in 2013? Yes! Our longest wall of fire to date (from one end of the field to the other end of the field), our own “Mini Nuke” & a few other goodies! All will have really good soundtracks.

    STL Comments:  Bill and Scott are one of the crowd favorites every year at the St Louis shoot.  St Charles Smart Field actually sent out a B-25 Mitchell Bomber in 2011 for a few low fly overs and Bill coordinated simulated bombing runs!  We definitely look forward to having him back each year.

  • Ryan Adams 2nd place Pro-Am Display

    Ryan Adams Columbia MO

    Number of Modules 22     Number of cues 287     Number of E-match 700+     Number of Positions- 5 close prox, 7 fronts, 2 main cake stations, 3 tower

    Team Members- Jeff Cellucci, Matt Lewis and Davis Vanderslice,

    I am 32 years old and my full time profession is a firefighter paramedic with the city of Columbia. I have two beautiful daughters and a wonder wife who puts up with my love for fireworks.

    I am currently a regional sale representative for J and M Displays and Hi-Tech FX. These are the only two companies I have had the privilege to work for.

    I am a current NFA, PGI and soon to be a MO Pyro member.

    My proudest pyro accomplishment was Jeff Cellucci’s and I’s first show we did for ST. Louis that was choreographed and shoot using a pin board. That was my first real exposure to artistry using fireworks and music that I had helped create and shoot.  Man we have come a long way in the years to follow.

    Favorite Effect- There are way too many to list, but any special effect shell or huge, LARGE  twelve and sixteen inch shells.

    Favorite Show- The first 1.4 show that really inspired me when searching the many you tube videos was Ron Silva’s Pirates of the Caribbean from PGI.

    I have been to three St. Louis shoot thus far starting with the first one five years ago.

    Each St. Louis event that I have attended keeps raising the bar to a different level. It is a great place to meet new people and see pyrotechnic artistry that would normally only see at PGI or NFA. Only difference is that you get to see up close and personal how it is all put together. I was contacted about this event and right from the beginning I was hooked. Little did I know the amount of creativity that would unfold in front of me. Each competitor brought something different to the competition to provide a night full of pyrotechnical delight. The St. Louis Pro Am crew bent over backwards to make sure each competitor had what they needed to complete their show. It didn’t feel like a competition because everyone worked together to share the field, product and make sure we did not disappoint the first year out. I have to say without the hard work of my team the show would not of been the success it was.  I am honored to say that I was able to participate in this great event, compete against these great competitors and be a part of the St. Louis Pro Am history.

    STL Comments:  Ryan is definitely well known at St Louis and I would say he has reached that level that he can compete with the best and win on any given day.  The talent pool continues to grow and Ryan belongs right at the top!  His support through the years has been instrumental to the events success and were happy to see him come back each year.



  • Unmatched Pyro!


    David Vanover – Roanoke Virginia – Mid 30’s – Systems Analyst (my former job)
    Team Members:
    Casey Morgan – Roanoke Virginia
    Jeremy Williams – Roanoke Virginia

    The show used 391 cues/matches, 13 – Launch Positions, 4 – M156 modules, 42 – Slat Addresses
    Advanced Technique Fireworks firing system with some custom slats.

    I’m not a member of any clubs at the moment but I have attended club shoots both as a spectator and a helper.   However, I am a member of Pyro Universe.

    I have worked with Advanced Technique Fireworks, helping during their Thunder Before Thunder demos since 2008.

    My proudest pyro moment was having the opportunity to compete in the pyromusical competition at the Saint Louis shoot in 2012.

    I first saw Wind Bells one night at the 2010 NFA, which immediately became my favorite effect.  The weather conditions that evening caused the Wind Bells to act in a way I fear I may never witness again.  There was a slight breeze directly towards the crowd with respect to the firing lines.  When the Wind Bells broke at apogee, they seemed to just stick to the sky at the same spot with just a bit of movement around by the individual starlets, some even appearing to defy gravity by climbing upwards ever so slowly.  Having never seen Wind Bells I had no idea how long they would hang there and given the way the wind was interacting with them it was as if stars were being added to the night sky.  It is a moment I will cherish always.

    At the moment my favorite show VIDEO is Feux d’artifice Montreal 2012 – Japan.  The product quality is top notch, pleasing choreography, decent camera work, and it appears the smoke was being blown in the opposite direction of the camera.

    I found out about the Saint Louis Shoot via the Pyro Universe website.  Currently I have only attended the 2012 shoot as a competitor but I plan to make every effort to attend from now on!

    We arrived to the shoot site for the Saint Louis Shoot not fully knowing what to expect.  While I knew some of the players involved and the quality of their work, nothing in my past experiences prepared me for the talent I was to bear witness to.  There was a ballet of activity all around, if you looked closely you could see the extra attention and care being taken.  Perhaps my perspective is skewed due to being in amongst all of the competitors for the weekend, but based on what I witnessed unfold at showtime, I can easily say this was best shoot I’ve attended thus far.  The crowd was in for a real treat!

    STL Comments:  We saw some of David’s work on videos posted online, met him at an NFA convention and realized his passion for pyro as an art.  There was no question we wanted him to compete in the Pro-Am and this was a 1st place display in many a persons mind.  David not only choreographed well with color, he matched theme to effects well and even used varying size and height to match piano notes…simply awesome!


  • Jai Ho!

    492 Ematches, 21 Modules, 5 positions.

    The Crew:

    Terry Hanson-Blair, NE

    Dan Muzzey -Brookings, SD

    Gary Sharman-Columbus, NE

    Drew Thompson-Omaha, NE

    Lead Shooter: Tye Hanke-Omaha, NE

    Age: 27

    Occupation: Vocal Music Teacher

    Pyro Companies you’ve worked with:
    Midwest Fireworks out of Blair, NE

    Proudest pyro accomplishment: Getting a chance to shoot in the Pro AM competition

    Favorite Effect: Big, Loud, Salutes!

    Favorite show video: Scott Fleer introduced me to Göteborgs FyrverkeriFabrik and I like their 2011 championship show in Sweden is my favorite, minus the Grease song, but it was scripted well so all is well.

    How did you find out about the St Louis Shoot?

    Pyro Universe  and all of the members who harassed me when I couldn’t go. In case you haven’t been, they were right, make time to go.

    St Louis Shoot Attendance:

    One…but it was AWESOME! I’m excited to go back this year and actually see what is going on, instead of solely focusing on a display.

    Quick background:

    I have always been a fireworks enthusiast, but I started getting serious about pyro four years ago when I discovered the wonderful world of pyromusicals. I  placed my first wholesale order, built a 200 cue Zastrow design firing system and scripted my first pyromusical for Christmas in 2009. It was 10 degrees that day without wind chill and I had finished building the firing system a few days before and hadn’t even fully tested it yet. Considering all the factors, the maiden voyage was a success, and things just began to snowball from there. Attending demos, Pyro Universe, professional displays, Midlands Pyrotechnic Association, and Midwest Fireworks has all helped. The further down the rabbit whole I fall, the more great people I meet .


    <Tye’s Comments:

    I was absolutely giddy when I got the email announcing the Pro Am teams. Then, I freaked out…a lot, when I read who I was competing against. I knew right away I was the least experienced, and had never been to a pyro event as big as this, yet alone shot a competition display in front of thousands of experienced pyros.  I was talking to Terry who basically  said, “Relax. Worst case scenario is we crash-and-burn, come home, and tell everyone who asks that we got fourth. No need to mention there are only four teams.”

    That helped calm me down a bit, and we got to work. I was feeling great until the first morning of setup when Tim’s team showed up. It was like a military blitz! Within seconds everyone of their team was carrying 4×8 sheets of plywood to construct the monstrosity we all referred  to as “The Wizard.” Ryan’s team arrived, setting up their own work space, and began pulling out  fancy rack contraptions that I haven’t even dreamed about. I remember thinking that David’s crew hasn’t arrived yet, so at least I wasn’t totally behind. Actually, David had snuck in behind us and was fast at work in stealth mode.


    I was honored to get invited to shoot displays alongside these guys and I learned a lot from talking with everyone. There was a lot of respect rolling off of everyone and I couldn’t have asked for a better first experience. We know the Pro Am competition is going to grow and grow every year, and it is an honor to have been a part of it. The Nebraska guys  are excited to come back for the second year to witness the displays, and have more time to check out what is all going on at Saint Louis. We’d like to give a special thanks to Ed, Scott, Brian and all of the sponsors who donated product. We appreciate your work.

    STL Comments:  We would have to say we agree with Tye knowing he was one of the lesser experienced coming in, this coupled with the fact that he had never even been to the St Louis shoot or competed at any level makes his performance that much more of an accomplishment.  His display stepped out of the norm several times, he was not afraid to mix colors vs matching like we see so many diplays do too much of sometimes (not that it doesn’t have it’s place)  I think for me personally this show was the surprise of the night!

    credits to fircat8 for the great videos

    Here is a great video Tye sent me of a picture in picture view of his Finale Fireworks simulation of his display and the actual show video….very cool!

  • The Minions of MAFF “The Wizard”

    The Minions of MAFF. 1st Place 2012 Pro-Am Pyromusical Competion St Louis, MO.

    Show:  The Wizard

    Pins: 647  Ematches: 721  Modules: 29  Positions: 15

    Lead Shooter: Tim Jameson, Hughesville, MD

    Team Members:

    Mike Gray, Martinsburg, WV

    Joe Russo, Centereach, NY

    Joe Conaty, NY (don’t know the town)

    Mike McCoy (Scranton, Kansas)

    Tim Facts!

    Age: 18 going on 44!
       Occupation: Warehouse Manager (full time) Pyrotechnician (part-time)
    Clubs you belong to:  PGI, NLPC, PA Pyro Artist
       Pyro Companies you have worked with:  Celebration Fireworks, Extreme Pyrotechnics, American Fireworks, Starfire Corporation
    Your proudest pyro accomplishment: Working with Team Dominator on the 2011 NFA Championship display
       Your favorite effect:   Too many to list, but if had to choose one, Yung Feng Gold Willows
    Favorite show:  Ricardo Caballer Sueca 2009 (first inspiration for me)

    How many St Louis Shoots have you attended:  4

    Tim’s Comments:

    Looking back at my experience competing in the first St. Louis Pro Am Pyro-musical competition, the thing which sticks out the most was the shared level of respect each team had for the other.  Each group went out of their way to work together sharing the same field, even loaning out equipment, tools, product…whatever necessary to ensure everyone’s display was the best it could be.  Even though each team was doing what they could to take their display to the highest level possible, it was almost as if everyone sensed they were part of something bigger than just your average competition.  Just an amazing group of competitors and I, along with the other members of my team, were proud to be just a small part of a grand event.

    STL Comments:  Tim and his crew definitely showed innovation and creativity in their display with the giant wizard set piece and it’s incorporation into their display.  Tim is one of the hardest working guys you’ll see on any shoot site.  Not only is Tim a huge help at St Louis each year but he also makes it to several other regional pyro events including running the increasingly popular Mid Atlantic Fireworks Festival (MAFF) which he organizes twice a year in Maryland!  http://www.maff.ws/

     Pictured left to right are Mike McKoy, Joe Russo, Joe Conaty, Mike Gray and Tim Jameson in front of their massive wizard set piece used in the display.MinionsMAFF

    Video credits to Brandon Schmidt